By Sam McPherson
The 162-game marathon otherwise known as the Major League Baseball regular season is now over, and the playoffs begin on Tuesday with the American League Wild Card Game. It could have been a lot more complicated if certain games had gone different ways, but the sport always seems to keep us captivated no matter what the outcome.
Giants sweep Dodgers to secure National League wild card
Since the All-Star Game, San Francisco literally had not played a week of baseball with a winning record. However, with five wins in the final six games, the Giants finally played winning ball for a week. It was just enough to secure a postseason spot for the team with the second-worst record in the NL’s second half.
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Now, just like 2014, San Francisco enters the postseason as the “worst” team to qualify for the playoffs. Only time will tell if the Giants are able to put together yet another miraculous run through October, however.
Wounded Mets claim top NL wild card with stellar finish to season
Despite losing several key players to injury, the New York Mets won 27 of their final 40 games to qualify for the NL postseason. This is the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons that the team has made the playoffs two consecutive seasons. On the flip side, the St. Louis Cardinals missed the postseason for the time in six years, because they won just 11 of their last 29 games to finish one game behind the Giants for the final NL invitation to October. The fans in St. Louis won’t soon forget all the wasted opportunities in 2016.
A’s take it to Mariners to keep division rivals out of AL postseason
Oakland finished in last place among AL West teams for the second season in a row, the first time that’s happened since 1998. However, the A’s were able to play decently enough over the weekend in Seattle to keep a division rival out of the postseason.
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After blowing a three-run seventh inning lead and a one-run eighth inning lead, Oakland held on to win in the 10th inning, as the Mariners’ postseason drought extended yet another season. Seattle last made the playoffs in 2001, and again the club came up just short this season.
Baltimore and Toronto claim AL wild-card spots
It came down to the final weekend of the season in the AL, too, as the Baltimore Orioles clinched the top wild-card spot with an 89-73 record, while the Toronto Blue Jays matched that record to claim the second wild-card berth. Left out in the final weekend were the Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers. If the Tigers had won both their games in Atlanta over the weekend and either Baltimore or Toronto had lost a game, Detroit would have had to play a makeup game on Monday against Cleveland to finish its season. A win there for the Tigers would have caused a tie for the last wild-card spot—and a big scheduling headache for MLB.
RIP: Jose Fernandez, Part Deux
One day after canceling a game due to the death of beloved pitcher Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins hosted the New York Mets on Monday night. In an emotional display unlike anything you’ve ever seen in MLB history, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon made the ultimate gesture toward his fallen teammate, who was supposed to start that night.
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Miami went on to beat the playoff-bound Mets, 7-3, but it was the last positive thing of the week for the Marlins, who gave up 33 runs in their final five games of the season without Fernandez. The team also fired hitting coach Barry Bonds once the season concluded.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.