The Major League Baseball postseason is quickly approaching, and everyone should be tuning in to see who will be playing in October.
In years past, August and September were times in the sport where fans and players would usually know the teams clearly still in the hunt for the playoffs, and the teams that were busy planning their offseason vacations.
This year, however, that is not the case. The division races are heating up in both leagues, and are as tight as ever, a major plus for baseball.
Currently, with the exception of both Central Divisions, no team is leading their division by more than two-and-a-half games (as of the second week of August).
This means that every game left in the regular season is still important. Teams cannot afford to go on extended losing streaks because they will lose ground in their divisional race.
Since these division races are so competitive, that also means the race for the two Wild Card spots in the American(AL) and National(NL) leagues are wide open. Right now, the Wild Card spots in the NL are only separated by four games. The Pittsburgh Pirates currently hold the first Wild Card spot and are leading the Chicago Cubs by only one-and-a-half games.
In the AL, the Wild Card is even tighter. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels currently posses the two top spots, but have four teams breathing down their neck.
The AL Wild Card spot has four other teams that are no more than four-and-a-half games back. The addition of the second Wild Card has been great for baseball, as it has allowed teams to continue to have playoff aspirations even into September.
So many teams still have a real chance of finding their way into the postseason, which allows managers to stay aggressive rather than pulling up prospects just to get them a few big league at bats as their best players rest for the impending offseason.
And it is not as if the Wild Card teams will not be able to hold their own in October baseball. In the 2014 World Series, the two teams competing were both wild card teams. The San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series, came in as the second Wild Card in the National League.
Clubs want that chance to compete in the postseason because, as the Giants proved, you never know what may happen. By adding the one game matchup between the Wild Card teams, it also adds a lot of drama for the sport. The Wild Card game is win or go home scenario, so managers lay it all out there in order to advance.
Along with the division races, there are also compelling stories that make the end of this regular season something you will not want to miss. No storyline to watch out for is more interesting than the Chicago Cubs, who are currently in the playoff picture.
The Cubs, usually known as the “Loveable Losers,” possess the second Wild Card spot. If they were to make it to the postseason, it would be the first time since 2008. The Cubs, with their young talent and solid pitching staff could cause some damage if they make the playoffs.
By making the playoffs this would give them a chance to finally end the longest championship drought of any team which is currently at an astonishing 107 years and put an end to the Curse of the Billy Goat.
The hunt for October is going to be exciting and chaotic. Trust me, you will not want to miss a second of it. So sit back, relax and prepare for what will surely be a noteworthy ending to the season.