Everyone remembers the final day of Major League Baseball’s regular season in 2011, a day that saw the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox collapse while the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays defied the odds and found their way into the playoffs as Wild Card teams.
While the addition of a second Wild Card spot in each league has led to increased intrigue and interest from more teams than ever before as we played through September, it’s the divisional races that will keep us on the edge of our seats as each team enters their final series of the year.
Specifically, the races in the AL East and the AL West.
The AL East finds the team everyone loves to hate, the New York Yankees, tied with the upstart Baltimore Orioles for the division lead. Both teams have clinched spots in the playoffs, but neither team wants to play in a one-game Wild Card playoff.
The Orioles take on the Tampa Bay Rays, a team they have beaten nine times in 15 games this season, while the Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox, a team they have only lost to five times in 15 tries.
But Baltimore has been on fire since August, winning 38 of their past 56 games, while the Yankees have won only 32 of their past 56.
In the AL West, we find the Texas Rangers holding a slim two-game lead over the Oakland A’s with the two teams going head-to-head in Arlington, Texas, to end the season.
The two clubs split the previous 16 games they have played against each other, with Oakland actually holding the advantage in runs scored, 72-to-63.
People love to cheer for the underdog, and you can’t find two bigger ones in the game today than the A’s and the Orioles.
Had you told someone before the season that on October 1, both the A’s and Orioles would be in the thick of the playoff race and battling for division supremacy, that person probably would have had you committed for psychiatric evaluation.
I would have.
Yet here we are, with three games to play, and both teams are poised to shock the baseball world.
How’s it all going to play out? Here's how I see it going down.
The A’s will win the first two games of the series before losing on Wednesday night, while the Orioles and Yankees will remain tied heading into Wednesday, when the Red Sox will inexplicably win in the Bronx while the Orioles shut down the Rays for their first AL East crown since 1997.
I may be right. I may be crazy. There's only one way to find out for sure.