Think about this… Baseball’s extra Wild Card element added for the first time this year gives more sports drama because of last year’s almost incidentally awesome last day. That last day of diligence, drama, and dreams was created in the unlikely but unforgettable last day of last year’s regular season that was happening in four different games.
Because of this extra wildcard now in 2012, teams like the Cincinnati Reds have a chance to shatter the Cards’ playoff dreams instead of just sitting pretty atop the Central Division waiting for a 1st round playoff opponent.
The Reds can be both division winners and Wild Card spoilers! This duality is the new reality of the 2012 postseason race.
The great schedule makers have Cincinnati meeting its division nemesis, the Cardinals, for a three-game regular-season finale of a series that begins Monday. Oh yes, plenty is at stake. Before the playoffs, the National League Central champion Reds can also bounce St. Louis from this new 2012 second Wild Card spot. The Cardinals entered the day with a two-game advantage over the surging L.A. Dodgers.
For the first time ever, the three headed monster of quality teams in the American League West can all battle it out for playoff positioning down the last few games of the season and two of the three will likely get in. Even next year all three teams could have a postseason game. This 2012 change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional cities in the great U.S.A. or Canada to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive postseason in professional sports.
The National and American League Championship Series and World Series formats will remain the same, keeping baseball purists happy still.
Let’s get back to the National League playoff picture. Although the scenario is different this year for the Cardinals to get into the playoffs the revenge factor is intriguing from the standpoint of the Atlanta Braves. Of course The Braves want to get back at the Cards for last year’s epic failure when they held a double digit lead in the standings over the Cards and losing that lead ultimately on the final day of the season. Yes, the Braves ultimately controlled their own destiny but couldn’t hold off the surging LaRussa Lead legacy of champions.
As a St. Louis sports fan, I’ve been blessed to almost always find myself switching back and forth between meaningful and or playoff cardinal baseball and Blues opening season hockey on the same nights for a few weeks in October. Well this year with no NHL hockey and me not playing hockey due to my schedule I hope to see some games on the hockey schedule! But for baseball even the casual or impatient sports fans who often mock the game of baseball can’t help but respect what our national past time has done to help the fan experience exceed expectations.
On the hockey front; I think I’ll wait till’ some of my teammates are ready to get into the swing of the real winter season before I lace up my skates to play some real games. Oh and let’s not forget about the new college friend who will be needing an early season warm welcome back to STL with a pickup game or two in December.
Predictions– These baseball teams will make the playoffs: Senior circuit: Braves, Cards, Nationals, Giants, Reds – Junior circuit: Rangers, A’s, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers
World Series Prediction: Cardinals versus A’s
Prediction for my sports life: Time will be found to play hockey in our league with my teammates and time to play pickup hockey with old and new friends in between the grueling but grateful schedule of producing programing!