Let’s cut right to the chase:
If the Royals make the Wild Card game, does that effectively end the postseason drought?
On the surface, that’s a silly question. Of course that ends the drought. While I don’t qualify myself as a “Baseball Purist” whatever that is, I do continue to dislike the Wild Card. It seems a very football thing to do. While it expands the net for teams to qualify for the postseason, it seems to muddy the waters a bit. Instead of just worrying about Detroit, the Royals spent the last month worrying about Detroit, and Seattle, and New York, and Toronto, and Cleveland… You get the picture. I’m more than willing to acknowledge my opinion as just another in the, “Get off my damn lawn” opinions I continue to hold. I can accept reality. The Wild Card has been around for almost 20 years. It’s not going anywhere.
Having made my rant, I will say I do appreciate the new format where two Wild Card teams play a single, winner-take-all game. That’s how it should be for the Wild Card. They shouldn’t get five chances to knock off the best team in their league. They should get one chance to prove their mettle. It ratchets up the drama early in October, which is highly entertaining, provides another round of champaign celebration and generally is a good time for everyone except the losers. I’m more than OK with the single-elimination format of the Wild Card game.
This is where the Royals could find themselves next week.
While the Wild Card game is a postseason contest, if my team loses that game, I’m not sure it will feel like my team experienced the postseason. The record books will reflect they did, but just… I can’t get over the idea that after 162 games, the Royals could potentially need one more game to advance. And they could lose. We joke about flags flying forever, but do you get a flag if you finish with the fifth best record in the league, go on the road for one game, and lose? That seems really kind of silly. Twenty-nine years and all we could get is one damn game? It’s harsh, but those are the facts of the game in 2014.
So, to answer my own question, yes the Wild Card is the postseason. Baseball says it is, so while I may dislike the Wild Card, it’s a real thing. There are 10 teams who aren’t participating. It’s a playoff.
However, it won’t feel like the Royals participated if they crash out after only one game. Still, the 29 year drought will be over. The Royals qualified under the current rules, fair and square. It’s the postseason. It will just feel empty. And disappointing. And I’m sure we will spend six months kvetching about a first inning bunt or a dumb bullpen matchup.
Now, let’s get down to something else: I’m kind of hoping the Royals get that Wild Card and get to play that one game at Kauffman. Oh, sure, winning the division is the ideal here, but I can’t help but think about how insane a one game winner-take-all contest would be at The K. It would be Game Six and Game Seven intensity all over again. How much fun would that be, one game, for everything, in Kansas City? I’m sure there’s not a soul on the internets who agrees with me, and I’m fine with that. Like I said, winning the division is what we all want – as Ned Yost would say, that’s “Plan A.” But the romanticist in my baseball fandom thinks it would be so much fun to play a game at The K where if the Royals win, they advance. It’s a like a bucket full of Game Sevens. Win and survive. If the Royals win the division, they would likely play Baltimore, and there’s no guarantee the Royals would have a game where if they win, they advance.
I know. I’m crazy. I’m probably a bad fan. An idiot. Or something. I just think it would be crazy fun to have that game in Kansas City.
The Royals have five games to settle this. With a magic number of three. I’m thirsty for playoffs and postseason. No matter how they qualify.