This is the time of the year that Bud Selig and all the network geniuses must absolutely hate as the various races start to fall out and a few final weeks ballgame broadcasts are contemplated. As a Yankee fan, I too hate this final stage of the season, and here is why.
As of Wednesday morning August 17th, the Yankees are ½ game in front of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East and all I can say is does it really matter? Is it worth a pennant fight when there is a wild card in the offing? They have like a 9 game lead for the wild card and so at the risk of a reverse karma slam, that race is essentially over. The Yankees will most probably flip flop several times with the Sox over the coming weeks in what has essentially become a ho-hum race.
The advent of the wild card has created this situation and I must admit to very mixed emotions about this. I know that it has helped the other divisions with some spectacular pennant races while ruining others. One needs to look no further than the 2010 season. The Giants essentially won the division down the stretch in an exciting finish with the Padres with the loser not making the playoffs. The other two divisions were finished early along with the wild card race. In the America League, the Yanks and Red Sox staged a great battle for nothing as the loser got the wild card and the other two divisions were runaways. So the wild card helped one race and eliminated another and so the season essentially came to a boring conclusion, unless you were a Giants fan.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I do like the wild card and the current playoff structure except for the fact that the first round is only a best of five series. I will be open to expansion of the playoffs by adding another team in each race and having them have a play in game or play in series. I actually think the addition of a second wild card team might even help as the team with the best record of the two gets the home game or extra home game so they have added incentive to do well down the stretch rather than be setting up their pitching staff for the post season. It just is the fact that the Yankees will not have a meaningful game for the next six weeks or so that I dislike. It just won’t matter.
Girardi will get to set up his postseason roster and pitching staff, some rookies will get some much needed major league exposure after the rosters expand and some veterans will get some much needed rest. Division winner or wild card won’t matter too much as the other two division winners have similar records. I guess some fans would be envious of this situation, where you know weeks in advance that you are the playoffs but the lack of meaningful games is more of an issue in the season down the stretch.