Last year we wondered if we’d ever have a final day of the season as exciting as the one we had just witnessed. Thanks to the new format, I’d argue this year’s final day is more exciting.
I’m a baseball purist. I never liked the Wild Card. Even as I watched the Giants miss the playoffs despite winning 100 games in 1993, I respected the idea of a champion. If you had a problem with the system, win it all and you have no complaints. With the addition of the Wild Card I felt that division races in September were gone for good. The 1993 division race would have petered out weeks before as both the Giants and Braves would have been assured playoff spots, the champion earning little to no benefit.
With the addition of the second Wild Card, all of that has changed. Wild Card teams are at a distinct disadvantage. A one-game playoff puts everything on the line in a game where anything can happen any day. Not surprisingly, players for team who are subject to such a game are not too happy.
Additionally, teams now want the #1 seed. The first round matchup will be against a team who has to put it all on the line for the Wild Card. The ability to set your team’s rotation while your opponent scrambles to simply stay alive is an advantage unlike any other in the sport.
That brings us to 2012. Here we are, staring down the final game of the regular season there are still a lot of meaningful games to be played. Here are the significant scenarios as games get started in only a few hours.
- Texas @ Oakland – This is for the AL West Division title. Winner is the champion, the loser prepares for the Friday Wild Card game. The Division Champion also has the chance to be the number one seed.
- Boston @ NY Yankees – If the Yankees win, they are the #1 seed and AL East champions. If they lose that opens the door for the Orioles.
- Baltimore @ Tampa Bay – The Orioles can tie the Yankees with a win and a Yankee loss. If this is the case, the Yankees and Orioles play Thursday in Baltimore for the division crown.
The fun doesn’t stop there as the numerous tie break scenarios still exist for the #1 seed and homefield advantage.
In the National league, things are much simpler. The Nationals control their destiny. If they win, they are the #1 seed, but the Red are tied in the standings, so a stumble by the Nats could give the red the coveted #1 spot.
In all, there are 5 games worth watching today. All have significant postseason ramifications. There’s the potential for Thursday baseball and we already know the Wild Card games will be on Friday. Get ready for an exciting conclusion to the 2012 season!