The addition of a second wild-card team has spawned so many different playoff scenarios during the final week of the season that it’s still impossible to predict what might happen with just one regularly scheduled day left in the regular season.
In fact, when the Oakland A’s came from behind to take the lead late Tuesday night against the Rangers, a largely unconsidered possible reality suddenly took front and center. Nobody spent a whole lot of time considering the possibility that the Rangers could fall off the top of the American League West on Wednesday night and fall into the wild-card game – the location of which would depend on whether the Orioles won or lost the final game of the series against the Rays.
If this is all very stressful and confusing for Orioles fans, it is not an accident and it is partially of their team’s own doing.
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The final day of the regular season last year was so surreal and exciting that it wasn’t hard to convince Commissioner Bud Selig and the players union how much fun it would be to schedule a single wild card play-in game in each league.
That guaranteed some high anxiety and drama at the end of the regular season schedule, and it also added to the buildup as the Yankees, Orioles, Rangers and A’s continue to battle to position themselves for the postseason.
It would certainly be better for those teams if the wild-card round was a best-of-three affair, so every playoff team would be guaranteed at least one home game, but that’s an issue for a different day.
The roller coaster will probably take a few more suspenseful twists and turns today, and Major League Baseball wouldn’t have it any other way.