The Tampa Bay Rays have been a feel good story in sports betting circles since 2008, when they went on an improbable run to the World Series and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. Now nearly three years later, the Rays and their low budget of $41 million, have fans and analysts from across the nation, hoping that they out gun the super team known as the 2011 Boston Red Sox.
A month ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were 10 games out of a wild card spot. Entering tonight’s final game of the season against the MLB leading New York Yankees, Tampa must at the very least win to force a one game playoff with the Boston Red Sox. At the same time, the Boston Red Sox, experiencing a meteoric collapse similar to the 2007 New York Mets whom blew a 12 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, are hoping that their pitching gets its focus together. If Boston fails to win the wild card, they would become one of only 11 teams in the history of the league to have the best World Series betting odds prior to the season, only to lose the first six games of the season, and then fail to make the playoffs.
On the other hand, the Atlanta Braves are basically begging the St. Louis Cardinals to take the wild card spot from them. Since the beginning of September, the Braves have gone nine and 17 including a seven to one loss to Philadelphia yesterday. At the same time, St. Louis has accumulated a record of 17 and eight this month, including a five to nothing victory over the lowly Houston Astros last night.
Theoretically, if all four wild card teams remain in sync after tonight’s action, it would be the first time ever, that both the AL and NL played a one game playoff in the same year. With a rumored second wild card team being added to each league as early as next year, fans should expect to see a 163rd game almost every season, to determine the final entrants in the playoffs.
If each league’s wild card comes down to a one game playoff, expect the scores to go under the total, as each game will have great pitching matches. In the AL Josh Beckett takes on James Shields, and in the NL Edwin Jackson takes on Jair Jurrjens.