- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Wild card race looking extra crowded this season
NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Maddon manages one of the best teams in baseball. And the Tampa Bay Rays could wind up going home after one game this postseason.
Then again, winning just one game shouldn’t be too hard for the teams that survive the crowded wild card race. It’s getting there that’s going to be difficult in the second year of baseball’s new playoff format.
“Right now, you look at the American League East, and Boston and Tampa aren’t taking any days off because who wants to win 98 or 99 games and be in a one-game playoff?” said former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who now has the Cleveland Indians in the thick of the wild-card race. “They wanted to stress the importance of the season, which makes sense.”
The Rays are only a game behind Boston for the AL East lead, and if the season ended before Friday’s games, they would make it as one of the wild cards and play Oakland in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup.
With a little more than five weeks left in the regular season, though, the AL wild card race is jammed. The NL is slightly less crowded.
Lurking right behind Tampa Bay is Cleveland, 2 1/2 games back before Friday’s games. Baltimore was 3 games out of the playoffs and the Yankees were 3 1/2 games behind. Even the Royals might have an outside chance to get in. Kansas City is seven games behind Oakland for the second wild card spot and falling fast, having lost five straight and eight of 10.
“Now with the extra wild card, everyone has to be on their toes,” Cleveland’s Jason Giambi said. “GMs have to be into it because they may have to make a trade that can get you over the top, and a lot of teams that would be sellers become buyers.”
That’s five, maybe six, teams scratching and clawing to get the chance to play one extra game. And after all that, one team will be ending its season only a day or two later than hopeless cases such as the Miami Marlins or Houston Astros.
Showalter would know. His team beat Texas last season to face the Yankees in the AL Division Series. He also managed in the first wild card round, with the 1995 Yankees. They got to play a full series, though, and nearly upset the Mariners in a first round that went the full five games.
Since then, wild-card teams have outperformed expectations by winning more than half of their series. Last year, St. Louis beat Atlanta (with some help from a dubious call) in the one-game wild card, then eliminated Washington before losing in the NLCS.
In fact, the World Series has been won by a wild card five times, most recently by the 2011 Cardinals. Four of the last 10 World Series champs have been wild card winners. Three more made it to the World Series and lost.
Whichever AL teams make the wild card will have spent plenty of time fighting to qualify at the end of the season. In the NL, it might work out easier. The Braves are running away and hiding in the East, and the Dodgers began Friday with a 9 1/2-game lead on Arizona.
The Diamondbacks were 7 games out of the second wild-card spot, so that race could come down to the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds jockeying for the division title and to dodge the one-game playoff.
Two years ago, the stakes might have been a bit higher. With three teams that close, one would win the division, one would be the wild card and the third would get nothing. That could be everything to teams like the Pirates, whose last postseason appearance came before there was a wild card, in 1992.
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- 84 percent of the world population has faith; a third are Christian
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!