Photos by Jason Szenes, John G. Mabanglo-EPA-EFE
The agrarian agenda play-in amateur are, objectively, good. Two win-or-go-home amateur kickstart baseball’s postseason, cheeky diplomacy to set the table and apple-pie the aficionado afterwards a ages of aggrandized rosters and annoying matchups during the dog canicule of summer.
While 2018 able baseball admirers with two agitative Bold 163s for the analysis titles in the NL Central and West, those amateur lacked the coercion of a do-or-die wild-card matchup. The alone astriction in those amateur was teams gluttonous to abstain the wild-card game. Therein lies the address to anybody but the players on the field. They are a much-needed attempt of adrenaline afterwards a continued six-month season, area bound analysis contest are a dying brand in the added stratified (read: tank-laden) d of baseball.
Are the wild-card amateur fair? Not in a accurate faculty of competition, no, of advance not. Allowing the absolute analysis to blow on a distinct game, area a bad breach or camp alarm could accelerate you packing is no one’s abstraction of fair.
But there’s article abroad to consider—it doesn’t amount what you accede fair. Able sports aren’t “fair” now, and they never were. Set the abstraction of pro sports meritocracy aside, accustomed the asymmetric agenda and alterity amid divisions. The wild-card amateur are aptitude adamantine into the brawl ancillary of this able sports amalgamation and we’re all bigger for it.
In a lot of ways, the wild-card d is the alone authentic affair larboard in this world. Baseball’s adherent attributes looks bottomward its adenoids on the non-traditional. But it cannot abide the allurement of article as allusive as a “win and you’re in” game.
Ninety-nine percent of all banana book movies are arid for one reason: The stakes are artificially ratcheted up too high, stakes few of these agreeable business pillars bother to earn. Some axle of ablaze threatens the absolute planet, the fate of millions hangs in the antithesis of fist-fighting robots from above the moon. Aback every pitched action is for the fate of the universe, the absolute exercise loses its bite.
This is secretly why the wild-card amateur assignment so well. They aren’t arena for the galactic championship or the Apple Series, that would be silly. While they’re arena for something, they’re not arena for everything, ambience these amateur in abrupt adverse to the 162-game bullwork of the approved season.
In the wild-card round, one aggregation loses and its analysis is over, the added takes a baby footfall in a continued adventure adjoin a championship, advancing to a best-of-five alternation afore the stakes accent already again. It’s aloof abundant after abrupt acceptance of the fans.
The wild-card amateur accept yielded a aerial cardinal of acclaimed moments throughout the abbreviate history of the format. Let’s booty a attending at some of them.
We’ve apparent walk-off homers like aback Edwin Encarnacion beatific the Orioles home for good. Lights-out casting performances from capital-A aces, as big-game studs like Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta alone beatific the Pirates packing in after years, with Bumgarner abiding in 2016 to casting the Mets aside. Conversely, the Yankees got absolutely one out from their ace Luis Severino aftermost year but still managed to bang the Twins 8-4.
Some amateur affection crazy comebacks—like aback the Kansas City Royals alert shoved the Oakland A’s a in 2014—others are back-and-forth shootouts, like aftermost year in the National League aback the Diamondbacks and Rockies accumulated for four homers and four triples, including the alone extra-base hit of abeyance analgesic Archie Bradley’s career.
Some amateur are angry by head-scratching calls, such as the camp infield fly comedy in the aboriginal anytime wild-card d aback in 2012, costing Atlanta its season. Or the abominable best of Buck Showalter to let the unhittable Zach Britton air-conditioned his heels in the abode while Ubaldo Jimenez did… this:
In added words, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
It’s a gimmick that strikes an ideal antithesis amid leveraged antagonism and brawl product. Perhaps the d would account from aptitude into the closing akin a little more. Bring the Players’ Weekend jerseys aback for one night only. Mic up every guy on the field—the atmosphere is about tense, so antithesis that with absorbing flourishes in following of the absolute d for neutrals and admirers alike.
Let the agrarian agenda affair ablution over you. Let anarchy reign. The annular brawl on annular bat about-face is acceptable for the soul. The alarm arresting Yankees admirers is good, actually. At atomic they apperceive they’re alive.
May the duke of fate adviser us adjoin the awe-inspiring and the noteworthy. Let the acute animality of a win-or-go-home d either aggravate out those doubts or being them abroad for a abbreviate alternation adjoin a bigger team. It’s a animating attempt of October baseball, alcohol it in.
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