Archive for the ‘Wild Card’ Category

Here we are almost into September, and the Baltimore Orioles are still not going away in regards to the playoff conversation. Everyone around baseball expected a August collapse, and instead the O’s have gone 17-9, sitting first in the Wild Card standings, and get this – three games back of the division leading New York Yankees.

After going 28-44 against the American League East last season, the surprising O’s have gone 26-20 this year, and have an opportunity, with a sweep, to move into a tie for the division lead this weekend. With more emphasis on winning the division this year, with Wild Card teams slated to play a one-game winner-take-all match to advance, this can be deemed a huge series for Baltimore, still looking for their first AL East crown since 1997. Nobody thought the O’s would be in this position this weekend after last year’s 93 loss season, and I mean nobody!

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With just over five weeks until the end of the 2012 regular season, it’s fair to say we’ve reached that point in the season where teams out of playoff contention will start to look ahead to the off season, while teams with a legitimate shot at post season baseball prepare for the intensity of every game played going forward having a impact on who makes it and who doesn’t.

Here’s a look at where the teams stand as of Friday afternoon and the important fixtures for this coming weekend.

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Three day games were already played this fine Thursday with five games on tap tonight.

Surprisingly, the most interesting match up, at least in terms of playoff implications, involves the two teams currently holding onto the two Wild Card spots in the American League: the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics.

Fresh off the Bartolo Colon 50-game suspension, the Athletics will turn to Tyson Ross on the mound against the Rays’ Alex Cobb. A win tonight pulls the Rays to within 2 1/2 games of the Yankees for the AL East title. You don’t typically see a lot of three game series starting on a Thursday, but this is the case since Tropicana Field is being used for a Republican National Convention party on Sunday.

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So they announced last offseason that MLB would be adding a second wild card team in each league to this postseason, with the two not-quite-winners playing each other in a one-game playoff to determine which moves on to play a real series. I think the reactions generally ranged from extreme displeasure (that was me, for one) to…a kind of extremely cautious optimism, I suppose? The change was so obviously and unabashedly profit-driven that it was hard for anyone to get terribly excited about it, but let me know if someone did and I missed it. Anyway, we said our things, and we kind of forgot about it for six or seven months.

Now, though, there’s about a quarter of the season left, around the time that people really start paying attention to the wild card race. Understand, now, that we’re not really going to know much about how the new system is working for at least a few years now, since the way the races break down next year could be drastically different from this one and so on. It’s way too early to make judgments about that sort of thing.

Still, though: how’s the new system working?

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Earlier this week, we looked at the possible playoff implications of the end-of-season match ups that Major League Baseball has scheduled for the conclusion of the 2012 season. Yesterday, the postseason schedule was released, setting aside October 4th, the day after the final games of the regular season are played, as the day in which tie breakers, if ties should occur, will be battled out.

As we all know, MLB has instituted a new format this year by adding a Wild Card play-off (not in) between two non-division winners. This addition is a bit more complicated this season than it will be in the future because the 2012 schedule was drafted before the the new format was announced. That’s why we’re seeing the this-year-only home/away format for the Division Series of two home games for the lower seed, followed by three home games for the higher seed.

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