MLB Adds Second Wild Card: The Boston Red Sox and 7 Teams Jumping for Joy
The month of October just got a lot more interesting for Major League Baseball players and fans alike.
The proposed deal would add one wild-card playoff spot to both the American League and the National League, with the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds facing off, while the top three seeds enjoy a first-round bye.
This is great news for certain teams who play in tough divisions like the AL East and the NL East, who have seen one team dominate the division for long periods of time.
Without further ado, here are seven teams who will benefit from the added wild-card spots:
Boston Red Sox
Since winning the World Series in 2007, the Boston Red Sox haven't made it back to baseball's biggest stage.
Twice they failed to make the playoffs, finishing third in the AL East to the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Given their enormous collapse in 2011, the Boston Red Sox have to be excited about the MLB adding another wild card to each league.
Boston has made the playoffs only two times in the past four seasons, and have seen the pesky Rays often spoiling its dreams of winning another World Series.
San Francisco Giants
After losing to the Florida Marlins in the NLDS in 2003, the Giants rattled off a stretch of six seasons without making the postseason.
2011 saw the Arizona Diamondbacks finish with a 94-68 record and an NL West title, while the Giants completed their season with a 86-76 record, which was good for second in the division.
The new wild-card spot will benefit the Giants, as they finished third in the wild-card standings in 2011.
The Phils have dominated the NL East, winning the the division the past five seasons in a row–one of them that included a World Series title in 2008.
During those five seasons that Philadelphia was handling the East, Atlanta made the postseason just once, being ousted by the San Francisco Giants in 2010 on their way to a World Series championship.
Last season, Atlanta fell short by one game of missing the NL wild-card spot to the St. Louis Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series.
The extra wild-card slot should help the Braves return to dominant postseason appearance form like they had from 1995-2005.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have had a tough existence since winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
Toronto has missed the playoffs every season since 1993, finishing second in the AL East just once during that time.
The AL East has largely been dominated by the New York Yankees during the past 16 years, with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays chipping in.
The Blue Jays have finished fourth in the division the past four seasons despite posting a winning record in three out of four of those seasons.
Toronto finished fourth in the wild-card standings last season and—with an improved squad for 2012–would largely benefit from an added wild-card space.
Tampa Bay Rays
Since dropping the word "Devil" from their name, the Tampa Bay Rays have performed considerably better.
After finishing fifth in the AL East in nine out of their first 10 seasons in existence, the Rays changed their name and have made the postseason in three out of four seasons from 2008-11.
The Rays won the AL East twice in 2008 and 2010 and even made it to the World Series in 2008 before falling short to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
But if it wasn't for a catastrophic failure in Boston last season, Tampa wouldn't have secured the wild-card spot in the AL.
With an AL East that almost always guarantees the Yankees and/or Red Sox a playoff spot, the Rays have to be pleased with MLB's decision.
Relocating and changing the name of your team usually doesn't transcend into wins.
But acquiring big-name free agents might.
Now the Miami Marlins, the Florida version did not have success since winning it all in 2003.
Since that title, the Marlins haven't made the postseason, due in large part to sharing the division with the Philadelphia Phillies.
During that span, they finished third or worse seven times in the five-team NL East, including dead last in 2007 and 2011.
While the Phillies are favorites yet again to win the division, the new-look Miami Marlins will put up a fight for a spot in the 2012 NL playoffs.
It's been rough for the Cincinnati Reds.
Besides its 2010 postseason appearance, the last Cincinnati playoff appearance dates back to 1995.
The Reds share the largest division in baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, who have won the six-team NL Central eight out of the last 17 seasons.
Though they finished third in the division and 17 games back in 2011, the Reds will benefit from the Cardinals losing Pujols and the Milwaukee Brewers surrendering Prince Fielder.
The loss of Pujols and Fielder in the division, combined with the addition of a wild-card position, has to have the Reds excited heading into 2012.