I have a dream that, one day, the citizens of Kansas City, the citizens of Pittsburgh, the citizens of Cincinnati and the citizens of Toronto will all care about the game of baseball during the month of September.
I know, I know—Wednesday night was an epic night of baseball fun. Intriguing story lines, postseason berths on the line, clutch hits and dramatic comebacks. It was everything we ask for as sports fans.
It was great drama for the 10 teams that were fighting for eight playoffs spots. What about the rest of the league, though?
Were there crowds of Cleveland Indians fans streaming into bars to watch their finale? Were Toronto Blue Jays fans excited about finishing fourth behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays for the fourth straight year? Were Washington Nationals fans excited to watch Stephen Strasburg pick up his first win of the 2011 season in the team's final game?
No, their seasons were finished a long time ago. Those cities are now busy thinking about the Browns, Maple Leafs and Redskins.
Baseball can be an amazingly exciting game for its haves, but it becomes a dreadfully long and painful experience for the have-nots.
The lack of a salary cap has banished small market teams to dreaming of three-to-five-year windows where they can mature at exactly the perfect time before the inevitable fall back to obscurity.
This happens after their young players become eligible for free agency and the New Yorks and Bostons of the league steal them.
What if it didn’t have to be like this? What if fanbases all around the league could legitimately care about their teams deep into September? What if, instead of the Braves and Cardinals battling it out for the postseason last night, it had been the Reds and Nationals or White Sox and Indians?
What would the playoffs look like in this new dream world? Sure, we'd have outfielders wearing parkas in early November, and the regular season wouldn't mean what it does today, but it sure would be fun to care about baseball in August and September.
The following slideshow shows the matchups of what could have been the most fun postseason in baseball history.