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Monday August 17, 2009 11:44 am

A Breath of Fresh Air for the AL Wild Card

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: MLB,

Ian Kinsler

Thank goodness. It’s about time somebody from outside the American League East was holding the AL Wild Card spot. And with a 4-3 win, the Texas Rangers took two out of three from the Boston Red Sox, who went into this weekend with the elusive fourth playoff position, just ahead of Texas and the Tampa Bay Rays. Since 2003, only one team outside of the AL East has won the Wild Card slot, the 2006 Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox themselves have won four of the last six, while the Yankees won one in 2007.

This is the first time in recent years that the battle for the Wild Card seems like it may fall outside of the strongest division in baseball. The Rangers are just as hot as the Arlington air. With just over a quarter of season left to play, the Rangers now lead the pack, with two East teams within 3.5 games. The better news for the Rangers is that as the Red Sox leave town, the Minnesota Twins are in, bringing with them one of the worst road records in the league.

Things are going good for Texas right now, and it couldn’t come at a better time for fans. The American League pennant races have become stale in recent years. It’s less “who is going to win?” and more “can anybody beat Boston or New York?” Granted, Major League Baseball and ESPN love the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but for how much longer can fans outside those markets put up with the repetition? We got a taste of it last year when the Rays managed to become the first team to beat those two in over a decade, and frankly, I’m ready for more of it.

I do believe that three of the five best teams in baseball play in the American League East, which makes it almost unfair to them that at most, only two can go to the playoffs, but at the same time, the Central hasn’t had a repeat winner since 2004. To me, that’s exciting baseball. Personally, I think that in the interest of fairness, Major League Baseball needs to make some changes, including eliminating Interleague Play, creating a balanced schedule, and dropping a few games from the schedule. And heck, while we’re at it, why not eliminate divisions altogether and just have the four top teams make the playoffs? While I’d welcome these kinds of changes, at this point I accept that while MLB stands to make millions off of the rivalry, it’s going to be everybody against Boston.



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