I can’t believe there are only three days left in the baseball regular season. This season has flown by. I have enjoyed it more than I have any previous season that I can recall. Yes, part of that is because of the Reds success, but it is also because of the MLB At Bat app that has allowed me to listen to every game this season. I also paid $10 to be able to watch the last month or so. It was worth every penny.
With three days left, I thought I’d revisit the pennant races. Last week I wrote how baseball didn’t need two wild cards in order for the pennant races to be exciting. With three days left, it is even more evident that this is true. That is, as long as you’re a true baseball fan. I read an interesting short article today that helps prove my point. As I’ve stated, I’ve never been a fan of any wild card and long for the days of two divisions. Let’s go back 20 years and pretend it’s 1993, the last year before three divisions and the introduction of the wild card. If we were still back then, the AL East would be Toronto, NYY, Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, Milwaukee (in the AL where they belong) and Tampa Bay. The West would be Chicago, Texas, KC, Seattle, California (that’s what they’ll always be to me), Minnesota and Oakland. The NL East would be Philadelphia, Washington, St Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Miami and NYM. The West would have Atlanta, SF, Houston, LA, Cincinnati, Colorado, SD and Arizona. The current standing would look like this:
AL East ALWest
Baltimore 92-67 Texas 93-66
New York 92-67 Oakland 91-68
Tampa Bay 88-71 California 88-71
Detroit 86-73 Chicago 83-76
Milwaukee 81-78 Seattle 73-86
Toronto 70-89 Kansas City 71-88
Boston 69-90 Minnesota 66-93
NL East NL West
Washington 96-63 Cincinnati 96-63
St Louis 86-73 Atlanta 93-66
Philadelphia 80-79 San Fran 93-66
Pittsburgh 77-82 Los Angeles 84-75
New York 73-86 Arizona 80-79
Miami 67-92 San Diego 75-84
Chicago 60-99 Colorado 62-97
I realize this is not an exact science as scheduling would have been different, etc..., but it can give us a general idea. The Nationals would have clinched the East some time ago, but the other three divisions would still be up in the air. The Yankees and Orioles are tied with 3 games to play and Tampa Bay would have just been eliminated. That’s damn exciting. Throw in that either the Yankees or Orioles won’t make it to the playoffs and it becomes even more intense. That is more exciting than any wild card scenario. In the West, the Rangers have a 2 game lead over the A’s and they have a 3 game series starting today to end the season. Once again, they’re playing for their playoff lives, not a wild card. In the NL West, the Reds would have a 3 game lead over the Braves and Giants. Only one of these teams would make the playoffs.The Giants have a 3 game series against their biggest rivals, the Dodgers, the Reds play a tough Cardinals team and the Braves get the Pirates.
To recap, three divisions are up for grabs with everyone else having to go home. On top of that, everyone would still be playing for home field advantage. A true baseball fan would be extremely excited about all of this even if their team was already eliminated. The Dodgers, Pirates, Cardinals, Tampa Bay and Boston would get to try and be spoilers. You know that Boston and their fans would be extremely excited to be the ones to knock the Yankees out of playoff contention and same goes for the Dodgers when it comes to the Giants.
Lastly, I’m a Reds fan. Always have been, always will be. They clinched their division last week. A casual or ignorant fan would say that my team has nothing left to play for and my interest would wane. They would be wrong. The Reds are still playing for home field advantage and seeding, but let’s put that aside for the moment. I hate the American League. It’s not real baseball, but the Orioles/Yankees race has gotten me paying as much, if not more, attention to their games than any other games. The Orioles have won something like 16 straight extra inning games and are winning with the long ball like it’s 1983. The fact that the Yankees are involved means that almost every fan should be interested as you either love or hate them. Maybe it’s just the purist in me, but with just two divisions and no wild card, the pennant race would be much more exciting that it is now.