Wildest Card Wednesday Looked Like Tournament Play!
Immediately, after Wildest Card Wednesday’s games had concluded, the folks at MLB Network and ESPN were saying that this was the greatest night of baseball in the game’s history. Now that we have a few hours’ perspective, it is clear that they were absolutely right. There has never been a night in which the numbers of the game and the poetry of the game aligned so perfectly. Consider:
The Rays were one strike away from defeat with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 9th before Dan Johnson (he of the .108 BA w/ 1HR) tied the game with a home run. The Red Sox were one strike away from victory with two outs and one on in the bottom of the 9th before Nolan Reimold (the 9th place hitter) tied the game with a double.
The Red Sox were 76-0 this season when carrying a lead into the 9th. The Yankees had not lost a 7-run lead in the 8th inning or later since 1953.
A summer shower passes through Baltimore five days into fall and when play resumes an hour and a half later, two games begin running on an eerily parallel course. Naturally, Reimold’s double occurs at the stroke of midnight. Three minutes later, Boston’s gilded carriage turns into a large, moldy pumpkin when Evan Longoria hits the first home run in his team’s final game that puts them into post-season, for the first time since Bobby Thomson! (I swear at that moment, I heard Russ Hodges, Mel Allen, and Ernie Harwell singing the Hallelujah Chorus.)
The Tampa Bay Rays head to Texas with the deepest starting staff in the American League playoffs and they’re playing with house money. The Boston Red Sox head home suffering from what many are now calling, “The Curse of the Andino.”
Wednesday night’s scenario may not be duplicated for another 200,000 games, but Major League Baseball can at least head itself in that direction. Reflect for a moment—there were four teams, playing in four different games, and the combination of outcomes determined the next match up. Sounds a great deal like tournament play to me and that’s exactly what I argued for in my post last Wednesday. Turn the playoffs into a tournament! If Baseball does, then it might produce some dramatic games that at least come close to what we just witnessed. Coming even remotely close to Wednesday night’s excitement will be close enough, and a vast improvement over the current playoff system.