2012 MLB Wildcard Elimination Games

The MLB playoffs begin today with the brand new Wildcard elimination games.  Each league gets 1 extra Wildcard team into the playoffs and the two Wildcard teams play each other in a do or die 1 game elimination showdown.  The baseball historians and old school fans hate the addition.  However, it allowed for some exciting games down the stretch.  I don’t think it cheapened the regular season at all…at least this year.  Who wants to say that the Athletics vs. Rangers three game series on the last three days cheapened the regular season?  Both teams fought to the end BECAUSE neither team wanted to be in that Wildcard slot.  The additional Wildcard elimination round makes the regular season MORE important in my opinion.  No one wants to find themselves in a do or die elimination game to get into the next round.  It makes them play more games.  It makes them weakened pitching wise when entering into the best of 5 round.  The A’s and Rangers gave it their all to make sure they won the division and had the extra time to rest and arrange their pitching staffs.


The elimination games are set for this afternoon and it will be the Baltimore Orioles vs. the Texas Rangers in the American League game.  The Orioles are one of four or five feel good stories in baseball this season.  The Orioles have been basically cellar dwellers in the AL East ever since the Tampa Bay Rays started winning and had not had a winning season or a playoff berth since the 1997 season.  That was the year that Baltimore got robbed in the playoffs by the fan that reached over the wall and got away with it.  The Yankees went on to win and the Orioles never recovered.  However, this season was magical from beginning to end as Buck Showalter brought winning back to the Harbor for the first time since the days of Cal Ripken Jr.  At the beginning of the season, no one believed that the Orioles would make it into the playoffs even with an extra wild card team.  If Buck Showalter doesn’t get the manager of the year award in the AL, there is no need to ever use the award again.  The O’s pushed the Yankees to the brink and had them sweating a Game 163 scenario until the final day of the season.  That being said, I’m not sure how much the Orioles have left in their gas tank.  They lost two of three to a Tampa Bay team that missed out on the playoffs and didn’t have anything but pride to play for in the last three games of the year.  Are they just happy to be there?  A harbinger of things to come or just a minor blip for Buck’s boys?


Waiting for them in the elimination game is the team coming off back to back trips to the World Series.  Everyone expected the Rangers to make it to the playoffs.  Hamilton, Andrus, Beltre, Napoli, Kinsler.  A modern day Murderer’s Row lineup.  On the other hand, the Rangers are limping into this game even worse off than Baltimore is.  They got swept by the Athletics to lose the division lead that they held practically all season.  Will they be able to recover from that collapse and the doubt and gloom that brought to the team?  Yu Darvish and Beltre were banged up towards the end of the season.  Ryan Dempster got rocked in the last game.  Maybe the Rangers are finally getting tired from having played so many games the last few years while on their Buffalo Billsesque run.  The MLB season is longer than the Japan baseball season so Yu Darvish has put in more innings under a lot more pressure than he is accustomed to.  The Rangers big bats are mostly veterans with a lots of miles on their legs.  If the Rangers fall behind, this one is going to be over because the Orioles are undefeated when leading after 7 innings this season and have an unbelievable record in 1 run games.  All the pressure is on the Rangers…do they want it bad enough to play through the fatigue?


I don’t know who will win but I will be rooting for the Orioles.

Moving on to the National League game, both teams are a tremendous story.  It was the Cardinals that chased down the Braves last season when the Braves had their monumental collapse and missed out on the playoffs.  If the wildcard elimination game was in effect last year, these same two teams would have met.  The Braves wouldn’t have been as humiliated and would have had a happier offseason.  Maybe Chipper Jones would have retired instead of coming back for one last try at a World Series.  The Cardinals rode their momentum last season all the way to the World Series title.  Then in the off season, Tony La Russa retired as their manager.  Albert Pujols left via free agency.  They played most of the year without SP Chris Carpenter and OF/1B Lance Berkman.  Somehow, they made it back to the playoffs anyway.  As a die hard Cubs fan, I do not want to see the Cardinals win.  However, I’m still bitter about the Braves epic collapse last season allowing the Cardinals to get into the playoffs and then having to see them win the World Series.  That being said, Chipper Jones is a Hall of Fame player that I can’t help but cheer for.  I want to see him get to the World Series and wouldn’t mind seeing him win it and go out on a high note.  Hopefully the Braves are ready to get some revenge for last season and will make sure that this isn’t Chipper’s last game.

Cardinals Braves Baseball





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