While most of America is transfixed over whether Michael Vick will play this weekend or if the Lions and Bills can stay defeated, another part of our country is focused on the baseball diamond as they prepare to enter the postseason. Tonight is the final night of the regular season and baseball fans are gifted with four teams that are still scrambling for all they are worth to get into the postseason.
The Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are all in contention for the lone wild card slot in their respective leagues and it's going to come down to nine innings to see which two advance to the next level.
For the Boston Red Sox, who needs a win and a Rays loss, the predicament of win or go home is nobody's fault but their own. With a 6-19 record, the Sox have all but blown any chance of advancing and are hanging on by the thinnest of threads. 23 games ago, they held a 9 game lead on the Wild Card but poor pitching and dead bats have put them in the must win position and though it isn't where they expected to be, they are going to make the most of it.
"I think it's really good for baseball, not so good for my stomach," manager Terry Francona said. "It's exciting. If you don't want to show up (Wednesday) and play, you've got no pulse. My goodness, I can't remember being that nervous in a long time. Go back to the hotel and not sleep, and then show up and see what we can do."
In the National League, it's the Atlanta Braves that are watching their wild card dreams fade away. Like the Red Sox, the Braves held an almost nine game lead just three weeks ago only to go into a slump that allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to catch them with one game to go. Also like the Red Sox, the Braves need a win and a Cardinals loss to advance to the postseason. St. Louis holds the tiebreaker with a 5-1 head to head record.
"It is what it is," Manager Freddie Gonzalez said. "We've played 161 games and it comes down to one. We've done it to ourselves. No excuses there. We've got to go get it tomorrow."
"We've got one game to play in the month of September, then October comes around and it's a new month. There's not a person in that locker room who I wouldn't want to be on my team to play that game."
For one night, baseball finds itself in the rare position of having one and done games in the regular season. It's exciting, it's fun, it's everything that sports should be. Make sure you tune into the action to see who prevails.
Boston at Baltimore 7 pm est ESPN
Philadelphia at Atlanta 7 pm est ESPN2
NY Yankees at Tampa Bay 7pm est
St Louis at Houston 8pm est ESPN2
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS