The Major League Baseball season consists of 162 games. That is a lot of games to determine who will make the playoffs with a chance to win the World Series on the line. Three division winners and two wild card teams make the playoffs. From 1994-2011 there was only one wild card team. In 2012 that number was changed to two, with the two wild card winners squaring off in a do-or-die playoff game, which would be game 163.
The addition of the second wild card last season added even more importance to winning the division. If a team wins the division, it will be guaranteed a five-game playoff series. Teams would rather play in a series instead of a one-game playoff, loser goes home game.
Game 163 is the most important game of the season for some teams, it’s win or go home situation. There is absolutely no room for error, one mistake could cost a team their season. Teams would much rather play in front of their home crowd in a game of this magnitude, which adds more importance to which wild card spot they get. That home field advantage could or would be crucial, or would it? Last season the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers in Texas, while the St. Louis Cardinals traveled to Atlanta and beat the Braves. Baltimore and St. Louis showed that they could go on the road in game 163 and win. Will home field advantage prove to be a factor in 2013? Only time will tell the answer to that question.
The National League Central will send two of it’s teams to the wild card game as the Cincinnati Reds travel to the Steel City of Pittsburgh and take on the Pirates. The Pirates are the story of the season this year. The team has not had a winning season since 1992 when they lost in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves. Twenty years of losing are finally over, but the job is not yet done. It’s hard to determine if home field would matter in this series. The Pirates swept the Reds in Cincinnati this past weekend to give them the home game for the wild card game. Game 163 for the Pirates will be one of the biggest games in franchise history, while it will give the Reds a chance at redemption. The Pirates want to “black out” PNC Park on Tuesday night, something the fans will be more than happy to oblige by. The winner of this game will take on NL Central champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. Arguably the best division in baseball this year will be represented in the NLCS.
The American League wild card scenario is a completely different one than that of the National League. The National League has both of it’s wild card teams already set, but the American League does not. The Texas Rangers will host the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night in game 163 which is a tie-breaker game to determine who gets the second wild card spot. The Rangers needed to go 7-0 at home this past week and did just that to tie the Rays with an identical record of 91-71. The winner of this game will advance to yet another do-or-die game on Wednesday in Cleveland. The winner of that game will advance to the ALDS to play the Boston Red Sox. The Indians are the hottest team in baseball as they have won 10 straight to end the season and claim the first wild card spot earning a home game with a chance to go to the NLDS. The fans haven’t been at the ballpark a whole lot this season to support their Indians, but expect Cleveland to be “rockin’” on Wednesday night in game 163.