Saturday, September 30, 2006

Stretch Run

Wow, what a crazy baseball season. As I write this at noon on the next to last day of the regular season ,only the Mets, Yankees, and A's have clinched their divisions. As of this moment, no one knows who they're playing on Tuesday. That's good baseball.

I remember when the wild card was first introduced in '95 and baseball purists hated it. Hands down, it's the best thing to ever happen to the sport. It allows fans to keep hoping up until the last 10 days or so of the season. Since its inception a wild card team has won the World Series four times (Marlins twice, Angels, Red Sox), so the only problem I have with it is that there should be an actual handicap associated with it. The wild card teams should start each round on the road and have no homefield advantage throughout the post season.

There's some talk about adding two wild cards. That might take it a bit too far. One of the things a hate about basketball and football is that clearly inferior teams make the playoffs. Making the playoffs should be an accomplishment. In baseball, all eight teams that make the playoffs can make it to the World Series without anyone really saying that a shitty team snuck in.

There's still an outside possibility that the Phillies and the Astros could pull off amazing comebacks. I would love that. Last Wednesday the Astros were 8-1/2 games out, then they reeled off a nine game winning streak while the Cards went into a tailspin. If not for Albert Pujols winning two games this week with his bat, the Astros would be in first in the NL Central today. There's a crazy scenario in which the Astros win the next two, the Cards lose the next two, and the Cards face the Giants in a makeup game on Monday and a one-game playoff with Houston on Tuesday (I think I got that right). That would be awesome, but I don't see it happening.

As for the Phillies, they're two games out of the wild card with two left to play. If only they could've beat the Nationals! The Nats played them hard, even though they had nothing to play for. Contrast that with the Giants who're probably going to roll over like dogs and hand the NL West to the Dodgers (their ancestral enemies) this weekend.

That was a long post! I was going to talk about the pitching woes of the two New York teams (Pedro out for the year, Johnson useless with a herniated disk in his back), but maybe tomorrow.

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