Midway through the final week of Major League Baseball’s regular season, most of the divisional races have been decided. Meanwhile, the MLB Wild Card races have made a handful of the final games mutually relevant in both the American and National Leagues.
In the AL, the upstart Cleveland Indians hold the second MLB Wild Card position, while the Texas Rangers are a game back and the scrappy Kansas City Royals lurk in the background. The first MLB Wild Card position is far from safe, occupied by the Tampa Bay Rays, only a game in front of the Indians. All four teams finish the season against below-.500 teams, and both Wild Card spots might be decided on the final day of the season.
Meanwhile, the National League Central race is both up for grabs and completely intertwined with the NL Wild Card race: the St. Louis Cardinals sit atop the division, two games up on the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are a game up on the Cincinnati Reds.
As I type this, all three are playing simultaneous afternoon games, all of which are close. Switching from channel to channel, I’m watching the Reds’ one-run game, the Cardinals’ two-run game and the Pirates’ tied game. The Cardinals finish against the Cubs, who have begun to show a serious interest in bracket-busting, while the Reds and the Pirates finish the season against each other.
The resulting March Madness effect is reminiscent of the historically exciting “Day 162” of 2011, and this weekend’s action looks like it will bring the season to a thrilling close. All because of the addition of a second MLB Wild Card position. Finally, we have something for which to thank Bud Selig. Enjoy the madness, baseball fans.