I guess this is why they invented the wild card spot. On the final day of the 2011 MLB season four teams are playing for their playoff lives. After 161 long and grueling games we find ourselves in a winner take all scenario. It should never have come to this.
The Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves had it on cruise control in the beginning of September, but slacked off considerably opening the door for the Rays and Cardinals to sneak into the conversation. What will be the outcome?
The schedule seems to favor Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Both teams have their aces on the mound tonight (David Price and Chris Carpenter) while their opponents (New York and Philadelphia) have already clinched home filed advantage throughout the playoffs. The Phillies have no vested interest in who gets in while the Yankees would like nothing more than to spoil Boston's title hopes. Look for the Bronx Bombers to rest some of their key players tonight.
This is the time for introspective self reflection. What if this pitcher or that player were healthy? What if my closer didn't give up a cheap home run back in May? What if I didn't pull my starter in the 7th inning of a one run game? Hindsight is 20/20, but the regret that comes with it can be difficult to deal with. I know all four managers involved in this situation wishes they would have done something different during the season to avoid this predicament.
My guess is one of these wild card races will come down to a one game playoff. Boston seems the most vulnerable and Tampa Bay knows they have the Red Sox number. Let's hope some some no name player doesn't become infamous for some random error or a overzealous fan for interference. Good luck everyone.