Today, the St. Louis Cardinals won and the Cincinnati Reds lost. That made it official — the Reds will be a Wild Card team, as they cannot win the NL Central this year. The Pittsburgh Pirates could still win the Central, but they would have to have a lot of help and need a lot of luck to do so.
The Reds could still play the Cardinals in the Wild Card game, but in order for that to happen, the Cards would have to lose their next three games and the Reds would have to win their next three. So, if the Cardinals win just one more game, they will clinch as champions of the NL Central.
So, with that being said, the other Wild Card team would be the Pirates. The next three games should be very intense and interesting. Why? Because the Reds and Pirates play each other, and they have a lot to play for.
The Reds have not won a playoff series since 1995, and the Pirates are going to the playoffs for the first time in 1992. The Reds have been one of MLB‘s elite teams in the last five years, but they have fallen short of winning the World Series each time they have gone to the playoffs. The Pirates, on the other hand, will want to get a big playoff win for the city of Pittsburgh and all of “Buc Nation” after two decades of futility.
If and when the Reds and Pirates face off in the one-game playoff, it will be an emotional game. The rivalry between the two has grown quite a bit in the last year; there have been a lot of players hit by pitches — intentionally and unintentionally — and for the first time in decades, both teams are actually good teams.
I don’t think you can really say that one team wants a win more than the other, but whoever wins will be thrilled and excited to continue the postseason, while the loser will suffer heartbreak and disappointment. Either way, the one-game playoff should be fun to watch.
Coop Ledford is a Cincinnati Reds writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CoopLed.