It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year. Not because the NFL season has started back up again, but rather it’s the season in which baseball fans come together as a community and watch teams light up an exciting September in order to try to clinch themselves a spot into October baseball.
Sometimes, teams comfortably back themselves into the postseason by clinching their berths early, while others will take all 162 games and maybe even more. Baseball is so beautiful for that very reason-they can play almost every day for 6 months and yet it still ends as a photo finish. This year, baseball has a few unique twists that don’t happen annually. Most notably, the ending of Derek Jeter’s career. For one guy to start at one of the most important positions on the field nearly every day for two decades is simply remarkable.
He didn’t just do it on any team; he started consistently for the most successful organization in the history of American sports. And for him to finish it in such a way that not even Hollywood could’ve scripted, the Yankees blow a three run lead by allowing two separate home runs just so Jeter could eventually walk it off in the bottom of the ninth-if you told me ahead of time that would happen I would’ve never believed it, I still hardly do; added on with the fact that it was done in the Bronx under the brightest of lights in Yankee Stadium, I watched the moment on TV and it still feels like a surreal moment. I can hardly imagine what it must’ve felt like to be there in person or let alone be Jeter himself, the feeling was surely indescribable if you’re lucky enough to be in a position like that. Perhaps the only negative to be found about Jeter’s career is the notion that if he had batted lower in the lineup or even sat more days out as the farewell tour came to a close, by any slim chance would the Yankees be looking at a playoff spot right now? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Enough about Jeter and how his season will be ending, lets look at possibilities for the postseason as we enter the regular season’s final day. Since the rule change that was implemented once the addition of the one game wild card was added, we have the chance to see three different “game 163’s” on Monday. The rule chance was that previously, teams would only play an extra game if a playoff berth were at stake, not just for seeding purposes. However, now that seeding within your own division is sometimes the difference between home field advantage in a 5-game series, versus playing on the road in a one game playoff that could end your season, baseball now lets them settle it on the field rather than using tiebreakers.
The Cardinals and Pirates, as well as the Tigers and Royals are all still fighting for their division titles on the season’s final day. With the Cardinals and Tigers both leading their division standings heading into Sunday, it would take a loss from them in addition to a win from the Pirates and/or Royals respectively just to even force a one game division championship game on Monday. As for the situation between the Mariners and the Athletics, that’s right the same Athletics who had the best record in baseball for the majority of the season, it would take an A’s loss+a Mariners win to see those two teams go head to head on Monday in what would be an elimination game.
The last story that Major League Baseball has going on right now, which seems to be getting trumped in all of this is that baseball’s commissioner of 16.5 seasons will be retiring following the conclusion of this season. Whether you love him or hate him, Bud Selig’s time as baseball’s leader since he assumed the position in July of 1998 still needs to be recognized in some way. This guy has been through several CBA negotiations, keeping Major League Baseball strike/lockout free since taking over the position. He had to handle Baseball’s business following the worst attack on American soil in September 11th. He’s handled numerous drug cases in some of baseball’s biggest scandals that none of us could’ve imagined. He’s added the wildly popular wild card game to open up the postseason and maybe most revolutionary of all-he brought video replay to baseball. I’m not trying to convince you he’s the greatest commish of all time, but he still deserves more credit than is being given.