The Tampa Bay Rays are the club always regarded as the team that does everything on the cheap. The smallest payroll, the smallest following, the smallest margin of error during the regular season. Tampa has once again managed to stretch the 162 game regular season into just another game, and perhaps more. The Rays lost their control over homefield advantage over the wildcard playoff game and now have to travel to Texas for a one-game playoff to determine who has to play the Cleveland Indians.
MLB thinks that having two wildcard teams actually adds anticipation to the end of the MLB season. It doesn’t. Look here at the case of the Rays. They will be pitching David Price on Monday, last year’s Cy Young Award winner. If they manage to win that game then they will have to square off against the Indians on Wednesday with their number two pitcher in the rotation they decide on.
The wildcard in baseball is vastly different than the wildcard in football. In the NFL, you usually have the same quarterback under center for every game. In the world of baseball, there is a different quarterback on the mound each night. If Tampa manages to win these playoff games, they will have to face off against the Boston Red Sox with a very skewed pitching rotation, with the Rays number three pitcher squaring off against the Red Sox ace.
It was a nice season for the Rays. Another 90 wins, and they put themselves in post-season play. It is remarkable what they are able to continue to do each season while competing with four other teams in the division which spend wildly.
By the middle of this week, Rays fans will be discussing whether or not some of their top pitchers will be traded in the off-season.