By: Cameron Redler
With about a month left in baseball, this is typically the point in time where fans everywhere rejoice about the exciting division races. But alas, this year is different.
Of the six divisions, in only two are the leader and current runner up within five games in the standings. And of those two – the NL West and AL East – the East is the only one that looks competitive since the Giants have played so small in the second half.
The wild card is a different story. The National League race between the Cardinals, Giants, and Mets should be exciting as all are within a game. These three teams should frighten the division-leading Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals. The three wild cards have all had deep postseason runs. The Mets went to the World Series last year, the Cardinals have won two and been to three in the last decade, and the Giants have won three since 2010. It’s a shame only two of the three wild card contenders will make it to the postseason.
In the American League, six teams are within four games of the wild card. And the two top wild cards, the Blue Jays and Orioles, are both within two games of Boston for the division.
I know that wild cards aren’t necessarily the most exciting as they feature teams that are imperfect and inconsistent, but that’s exactly why I personally like it. It’s unpredictable. Think of the recent wild card teams and play-in games. In 2014, the Royals pulled off an epic comeback against the Athletics before winning in 12 innings and making a world series run. They lost to the NL wildcard winning Giants. In 2012, the Cardinals and Braves played an all time classic that many recall because of the questionable infield fly call.
Six wild card teams have won championships. Two since 2011.
This season – more than any other in recent memory – has been unpredictable, again reinforcing the notion that baseball, despite having no salary cap, has more parity than any other sport.
Teams collectively are on pace to hit the most home runs in league history. The most ever. More than any season with Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Giambi, or A-Rod. Last season the league only had it’s 18th highest total. The league, as a whole, had been dominated by pitching post-steroids. This came out of nowhere.
So between the exciting wild card teams and races, and the resurgence of the long ball, this final month and postseason is shaping up to be one of the most exciting ever. I almost forgot to mention the favorites are the freakin’ Cubs. The Cubs! They haven’t won since the Ottoman Dynasty was a thing, since before world war one, since…well you get it. Should be great.