As September has dwindled away and fall begins to set in, it can only mean one thing: the Major League Baseball post-season has arrived.
Starting Oct. 5 for the first time in MLB history, 10 teams will be eligible to compete for the coveted World Series championship title.
The new bargaining agreement between the MLB and the Players Association, established last November, will allow each league an additional wildcard team to be inserted into the playoff structure starting the 2013 season.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig wanted this to begin immediately, so it was agreed upon by all ball clubs that the 2012 season would incorporate the new format.
The previous structure included the three division leaders and a wildcard team from each league for a total of eight teams.
It gives the second best non-division winner in each league another chance at the crown that they previously never had. This would have certainly helped the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves who missed last year’s post season by one game.
Fortunately for the Braves they’ve already solidified a spot for this year’s playoffs as they clinched the first wild card spot back in late September; however, the Red Sox were eliminated back in mid-September.
For the additional wildcard team to advance to the next round, the team will have to play the other wildcard team from their league in a single elimination game.
The single elimination game is guaranteed to add a more intense experience for everyone involved: coaches, players, owners and more importantly the fans.
Like never before the implications of every pitch and hit could make or break a team as one bad game would end a season.
Whoever does end up winning will then have to quickly turn around and get ready for their next games, as the winning team will advance and take on either the American League Texas Rangers or the National League Washington Nationals Oct. 7 for a best three of five game series.
When the decision to incorporate the new postseason format was decided the schedule had already been set, so the wildcard game had to be squeezed in-between the last regular season game and first playoff game.
This new format greatly benefits the top two teams that have won their divisions, as they will have three days to prepare for their next game, while the wild-card winner and bottom division leader only have two days.
The Washington Nationals,since their inception as the Montreal Expos in 1969 have never made an appearance in the World Series.
Likewise, the Texas Rangers have made two World Series appearances, but have consecutively lost the last two to the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively.
Over the last 11 seasons there have been nine different World Series champions, which makes October that much more fun to watch. Even last season the St. Louis Cardinals proved to the world, never rule out anyone at any point in the series, because anything can happen.