The Boston Red Sox took care of business a long time ago in the AL when they clinched their division. Because of that, they avoid having to compete for one of the two wild card spots and participate in the play-in game to see which wild card moves on to the Division Series. That’s good for Red Sox Nation, but has to be nerve-wracking for all the fans of the other cities involved.
The second wild card team was a fantastic idea, because it has really created a lot of drama and has proven the importance of winning the division. It also has created a great race as we head into the final two days of the regular baseball season and there are three teams competing for two spots. Each team has a story behind them. You have the upstart, young and spunky Tampa Bay Rays. You also have the underdog Cleveland Indians, led by Boston’s former manager and John Farrell’s good friend, Terry Francona. Nothing was expected from the Indians and they have been a great story. It would be fantastic to see Francona against Farrell. Finally, there is the Texas Rangers, who have had the collapse of all collapses, and are just now playing well again. They appeared to have their division and then the wild card lead in the bag in the beginning of September, only to have it slip away.
These three teams are separated by one game. Bud Selig must be chuckling in his office somewhere because this wild card race is playing out almost exactly how he hoped. Can you imagine if Texas gains a game, or if Tampa Bay or Cleveland fall just a little bit in the standings? Not to mention, the rotations of those teams will be a mess, because they will want their starting pitcher for the most important games. That should be a huge advantage for the well-rested Red Sox. Heading into the last day of the season, it could be a three way tie. How exciting is that? I’m hoping for the Indians and Rangers just because the Tampa Bay pitching always scares me. For a baseball fan, this is like nirvana at the moment. Knowing your team is comfortably in and watching a pennant race come right down to the end; great feeling, nothing like it. Of course, I will feel differently during a season when Boston is a wild card team. But for now, I’m loving it.