Posted by keithosaunders on September 28, 2011
Somebody tell Mr. Selig to put his newfangled expanded playoff plan on hold. The old-fashioned wild car system is alive and well with a pair of improbable finishes. Going into the final day of the season the both NL and AL wild card races are in a tie. The Boston Redsox and Atlanta Braves may be running on fumes, but the pennant races are alive and well.
Pennant race…it’s hard to believe I’m writing that phrase when a mere two weeks ago I was bemoaning the lack of drama in the 2011 season. How quickly things turned.
How did this happen? On September 3rd the Redsox were a half game out of first and on a pace to win 98 games. They were nine games ahead of the Tampa Rays. They proceeded to go 7-19 in September and will have to rely on Jon Lester on three days rest.
Let’s compare this fold up with another recent debacle — one that is quite painful for me to recall. The 2007 Mets were coming off a year in which they came within two innings of going to the World Series. They had a strong April and May, slumped in June, but recovered their winning form in July and August. Despite being swept by the Phillies in a four game series at Shea August 27-30, they proceeded to go on a tear, winning their next 9 of 10. On September 12th they found themselves 21 games above .500 and seven games ahead of division rival Philadelphia . They would only win five more games the rest of the season.
They lost five of six to the lowly Nationals during the final two weeks, and despite falling behind the Phillies, they could have pulled even with a final game victory over the Florida Marlins. Tom Glavin started that game, allowed seven runs in the first inning, and the season was lost.
I suppose this Redsox collapse would be worse, but just barely. Both the 2007 Mets and the 2011 Bosox had exceptionally high hopes coming into the season, and both teams had high payrolls. (albeit the Redsox payroll is insane) The Redsox have been hit hard by injuries whereas that Mets team, for the most part, was healthy. Even Pedro Martinez managed to return from his semi-permanent home on the DL to pitch a few meaningful games.
As for the 2011 Braves, who have managed to squander an eight and a half game lead in the wildcard race, I hope they lose. Not only were they a longtime nemesis of the Mets, their star longtime ace and erstwhile Met, Tom Glavin, spit the bit in the clutch. Regardless of that, Atlanta fans do not deserve a winning team. Their tomahawk chop is offensive, corny, and tired, and they can’t even sell out playoff games.
Either way I’m happy we are finally getting to see some drama. I’ll be hoping for both teams to win, or both to lose so that we’ll be treated to a pair of one game playoffs. Let’s play two!