September 1 is here: back-to-school time, end of summer vacations and tension time during pennant and wild card races.
As has been mentioned over and over, the Phillies haven’t tasted post-season cheese steaks since 1993. Yes, that’s a long dry spell. No, it hasn’t been 13 consecutive losing seasons. Yes, the wild card has been there for the taking in recent years and slipped by Philadelphia.
As tension time arrives it has been pointed out the Phillies have the easier schedule because they play teams under .500. True, but that can be a lot of Lebanon bologna.
Sure, the Braves are under the .500 water level, but they still carry 13 straight division titles. That’s a lot of trophy case hardware.
Next, the Astros. All they’ve done since May 18, 2003, is go 12-0 against the Phillies. In each of the last two years, the Astros have been the National League’s wild card winner.
The Marlins are hotter than Florida weather, steamy hot. There are 10 games left for the Phillies with those southern Florida kids. Twice the Marlins have advanced as the wild card team, 1997 and 2003, and each time they won the World Series.
The Cubs and the Nationals are struggling big-time but there’s no greater joy for those teams than to play the spoiler’s role.
Someone once said, there are no vacation games in baseball. How true.
As has also been mentioned, the National League wild card race is up for grabs among “imperfect teams,” “a weak league” and “on and on”. A race is a race, whether it is kids on tricycles in the neighborhood or men in souped-up racing cars in Daytona.
Teams with .500 records or under qualify for the playoffs in the NBA and NHL every year. Imperfect teams? Weak league? In those two sports, the format is for a lot of teams to make the playoffs. In baseball eight teams out of 30 qualify, only two being wild card teams.
The Phillies have been to five World Series in their history. Circumstances were different. In 1915 and 1950, you had to be the league champion, no divisions or wild cards. In 1980, 1983 and 1993, the Phillies were Eastern Division winners who advanced following one round of playoffs. The wild card came into being in 1995 when the leagues were spilt into three divisions. It was one of the best moves baseball made.
Five NL wild card winners have advanced to the World Series.
There’s a lot of interest in baseball as the final weeks approach because of the wild card race. That’s good for the soul and hard on the nerves.