I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. I just don’t see how football can top this. All this drama that accompanies September baseball is just amazing, and no other sport — or anything really — can top the excitement that our national pastime is providing the country right now.
I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. I just don’t see how football can top this.
All this drama that accompanies September baseball is just amazing, and no other sport — or anything really — can top the excitement that our national pastime is providing the country right now.
Purists may have been skeptical of the wild card when it first came into use in the game, but love it or hate it, no one can deny how suspensefully amazing this do-or-die race for the playoffs is shaping up.
On the American League side, you’ve got the Tampa Bay Rays, who are doing everything they can to stay alive and beat out the Boston Red Sox for the wild card. But not so fast, St. Petersburg, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are right on your tail. The Red Sox are showing some inconsistencies late in the season, and it’s allowing the Rays and Angels to gain some ground. If the Red Sox bottom out, who will take their spot at the top of the AL wild card standings?
On one side there’s the Rays. They want to stay to their winning ways after more than a decade of coming into existence and just being one of the worst teams in the game. It would show their other East Division rivals that they’re a force that can’t be stopped no matter what, not to mention the fact that an expansion team has not won the World Series since 2003 when the Florida Marlins defeated the New York Yankees.
However, there’s also the case for the Angels. It’s been a tough battle for the Halos in the AL West ever since Nolan Ryan made the Texas Rangers into a competing powerhouse last season. Los Angeles had a tough time beating Texas in 2010, however, they’ve bolstered their roster in 2011, and that’s kept them in contention. The Rangers and Angels have what I call a “low-key” rivalry in the AL West, but if the Angels make the playoffs and make it past the division series to face the Rangers (who would also have to make it past the first round), the battle for the AL pennant will be quite a show to watch.
Yet the show to watch now is the race to the playoffs. After that, it only gets better.
The National League side, however, is providing the best race for the playoffs the baseball world has seen in quite some time.
You’ve got the Atlanta Braves, who are no stranger to the postseason in the past two decades, and then you’ve got the St. Louis Cardinals. Many folks — myself included — thought they were done for the year. It was tough to accept that feeling, but despite my denial, as I wrote in an earlier column, I still held onto that small little glimmer of hope. Even though at the time it didn’t seem possible. Now it does.
Just a few weeks ago, there was no race to really talk about in the NL. I and everyone was convinced that the Philadelphia Phillies would take the East Division and the Braves would finish up with NL wild card. But wait, the Cardinals still saw hope. A lot more than many fans did. And as they got back to their winning ways, the difference between them and the Braves has decreased immensely.
There was a comfortable battle between Atlanta and Philadelphia earlier this year, but as expected, the Phillies prevailed, However, the Braves want to show that they too are a postseason team. A trip to October would also verify that selecting Fredi Gonzalez as manager was the right choice. Bobby Cox managed Atlanta 1986 to 2010.
If St. Louis takes the honor of winning the NL wild card, it will be another unique chapter in the team’s long history. There’s a lot of great stories in the history of Cardinals baseball like the 1964 season. The Phillies lost 10 games in a row, allowing the second-place Cardinals to take the NL pennant and eventually the World Series over the Yankees. A lot of folks are talking about comparing this magical 2011 season to ‘64, but this is something completely different.
It’s hard to say if the Cardinals would win the 2011 World Series when what they have to do first is capture the wild card, but if they do come back from that huge deficit they had, make the playoffs and at least make it to the National League Championship Series to play for the NL pennant, then this season would more than likely be a comfortable No. 2 to that 1964 team.
Only time will tell what will happen next, but the best thing to do in that time is sit back, watch and enjoy.
Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal Courier-Post.