Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE LUXURIANT, FISH-CATCHING BEARDS OF THE BOSTON RED SOX:  The WSJ's Jason Gay thinks that despite the start of the NFL season, you should still be paying attention to baseball:
You could look at this "enhanced" wild card in a couple of ways. You could be a fuddy-duddy and groan about the dilution of baseball's fussy, old-school postseason, and then complain about your oatmeal and the line at the pharmacy and the lack of Walter Matthau movies on cable. Or: You could view baseball not as a museum piece but a living thing—and see the re-evaluation of the playoffs as a way to goose a beloved sport. 
And this season, fruitfully, you have craziness. At least in the American League—so, half-craziness. The National League race is sort of a slumber party—St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh look poised to hoard the Central title and the two wild-card slots, unless Washington finds a miracle (even here, you see the influence of the double-wild-card system; that Central title looks massive). But in the AL, it's madness. The following teams are still in the mix: Texas, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees…and, if I'm not mistaken, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Vancouver Grizzlies, Biscuit, my neighbor's orange tabby cat…and I think the Alabama Crimson Tide. 
That's a lot of action shoved into one telephone booth, with not much of a season left. It's hard not to feel a little sentimentally charged for the Royals (no playoffs since 1985, when Bud Selig was a toddler) or the Cleveland Indians (Terry Francona…who had any idea this guy could manage!). Simultaneously, it's hard not to hope for a little extended bedlam. What about a three-way tie…or even, deliciously, a four-way tie, a scenario in which, if I am reading this confusing handbook correctly, the four qualifying tied teams will play a second, separate 162-game series in another dimension. 


  1. Joseph Finn10:41 AM

    "You could look at this "enhanced" wild card in a couple of ways."

    Ignore it and super-ignore it? Ignore it and cheer when it's abandoned in a couple of years? Refuse to refer to the wild-card loser (i.e., the team that didn't win the wild card but still gets to play in a stupid play-in game that's as dumb as the play-in games the NCAA uses for their men's basketball tournament) as a playoff team?

  2. Adam B.12:27 PM

    Except in practice, the teams are going to be more tightly bunched than that around the WC, aren't they? We're in the thick part of the bell curve here.

    I am intrigued by Theo Epstein's proposal to make the WC round a best-of-three, with games 1-2 being a day-night doubleheader at the superior seed, and game 3, if necessary, the next day in the other city.

  3. The Pathetic Earthling12:33 PM

    Provided they give the WC winner a couple of days of rest, it's an improvement. No one should have to start an NLDS with their fourth pitcher.

  4. Adam B.1:03 PM

    Why not? The team didn't win its division; it should be grateful to be in the playoffs. I am in favor of steps which advantage teams which were most successful in the regular season.

  5. Joseph Finn3:25 PM

    Such as the wild card winner, not the 6 game back wild card loser that still gets to be in the game which has no reason to exist.

  6. Joseph Finn3:25 PM

    "Captain Bud's Coin Flip Classic"

    Thank you, I now have my Fantasy Baseball team name for next season.

  7. Joseph Finn7:20 PM

    It's a minor bit of meaningless drama to try and get one extra game in and disrupts what was almost the perfect playoff system for a six-division league.

  8. J. Bowman8:42 PM

    I'm confused by this continued argument. Which is the team that's 6 games out of the first WC spot and still getting in?

  9. Benner8:33 AM

    i now live where there are a lot of orioles games on tv, and it's exciting to see them have something to play for, even if it's not "really" the playoffs or whatever. More entertaining than watching the Nats play out the string, anyway.

  10. BarbL1149:43 AM

    What's amusing to me is that even without the 2nd wild card spot, last year's AL would've played out the same way--the O's and the Rangers were tied going into that WC game.

    The AL wild card this year is just nuts and is fun (and nerve wracking, as an Orioles fan) to watch.

  11. J. Bowman3:28 PM

    I looked it up: Last year the Cardinals finished 6 games behind the Braves. My bad, I don't pay much attention to NL standings, as I've never really lived near an NL team.
    Anyway, they were up 3-1 in the LCS at one point, so they're not exactly a data point against the second WC.