Wild Wild Card Baseball: Incredible MLB Finale

The 2011 MLB Regular Season came to a close today, and it sure went out with a bang. Just as every professional sport can hope, the last day of the season brought the MLB meaningful and exciting games. Both Wild Card spots were on the line today, as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were tied in the American League and the Atlanta Braves were tied with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League.
Cards Celebrate Win
Let’s start with the NL. The Cards had no trouble beating the Houston Astros (which really isn’t a surprise), and that forced the Braves into a must-win game against division rival (and best record in the MLB) Philadelphia. Atlanta took an early lead and held it all the way to the ninth, but they couldn’t finish. The Phillies tied it in the 9th inning and won it in the 13th. Incredible game, but not even the best story of the night.

In the AL, things were a lot different. The Orioles took an early lead, but gave it right back before a rain delay held things up. The rain delay would prove to provide an exciting end of the day. While this was going on, the Yankees were taking a commanding lead on the Rays, 7-0. But the Rays weren’t willing to give up. They scored six runs in the eighth inning and made it a ballgame again. Then in the ninth inning, the Rays were down one run with 2 out and 2 strikes on Dan Johnson, when he hit a game tying homer to force extra innings.

Back in Baltimore, the Red Sox were leading in the ninth inning and they could determine their own destiny. If they win, they at least get a chance to play the Rays for the playoffs. Papelbon entered the game to close it out and as Jim Rome stated, “These dude’s are overmatched against Papelbon. This freak is DEALING.” Literally minutes afterwards, the Orioles tied the game and preceded to beat the Red Sox in the ninth inning. The Orioles celebrated like they won the pennant, but you can’t blame them, they haven’t played a meaningful game in a really long time.

The Red Sox would retreat to the clubhouse to depend on the Yankees to bail them out (isn’t that ironic). Before the Red Sox could even settle into the clubhouse (seemingly 90 seconds after the Orioles won), Evan Longoria hit a walk-off game winning home-run to beat the Yankees. The Red Sox completed a colossal collapse, and did it in dramatic fashion.

The RedSox-Yankees-Rays triangle sparked tons of debate among fans, especially on Twitter. There were plenty of Yankees fans hoping the Rays would win in order to eliminate Boston. For a brief moment, Red Sox fans needed the Yankees to win a game. Rays fans were rooting for the Orioles, it was a wild time for fans in the AL East. That brings the question, should Yankees fans have been rooting for the Yankees to blow the game? Immediately, you would think of course they should. The New York – Boston Rivalry is one of the biggest most well known rivalries in all of sports.

If you take a moment and think about it rationally, the Yankees would have rather had the Red Sox in the playoffs since they are in a major slump right now and they prove to be the least threatening. But then again, the Rays have a better chance of beating the Rangers in the Divisional Round, and the Yankees should have confidence that they can beat the Rays in a series (or at least a better chance than beating the Rangers).

At the end of the day, the playoffs are set. The Detroit Tigers will play the Yankees while the Texas Rangers will play the Rays in the AL. In the NL, the Arizona Diamondbacks will play the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cards will play the Phillies. Stayed tuned for my official predictions.

[Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip via crescent-news.com]

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