Baltimore Orioles: Have other teams followed suit?
It was Buck Showalter who brought the attitude of play until the final out to the Baltimore Orioles. And while some people might not agree with this, that culture still continues even with the team struggling as it has this year. The game isn’t over until it’s over, but more importantly if you’re being paid to do a job you do it to the best of your ability – ALWAYS.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that it seems other teams are starting to adopt that same philosophy. And let me say up front, that’s a good thing. Nobody should be in the business of giving up and just collecting a paycheck. It’s disrespectful to the game, and to the fans. However up until now it seemed that some teams would just kind of fade into the background in September. Why is it different now?
Orioles fans love Showalter, and with good reason. Baltimore is blessed to have one of the best managers in the game. However it would be unfair to give him credit for teams such as Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Texas, among others, playing their way into contention so late. Some of it might be attributed to him and managers like him, who preach playing until the final out. But there’s another reason for this as well…
Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
…and that’s the second wild card slot. When MLB added a wild card a lot of people didn’t like it. And in truth, it all but removed all of the emphasis on winning the division. If you won the wild card, you were guaranteed a five-game LDS just like division winners. But then in 2012 MLB added a second wild card spot, which has revolutionized the end of the season.
First off, I was very content to see that the emphasis on winning the division was now returned to the game. While it sure beats sitting at home, nobody wants to end up in that automatic game seven – NOBODY. So winning the division means something again, and that’s to the credit of MLB and Bud Selig.
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But there have always been good teams that have missed the playoffs – such as the 1989 Orioles. So now these last few playoff slots have the competition being much more fierce in August and September. So lots more teams have something for which to play. And that’s a good thing; it keeps fans involved who 20-25 years ago might have lost interest in September, and it keeps players playing hard.
Of course, I buy into Buck’s philosophy in that you should be playing hard all day and every day to begin with. But that’s another story for another day!
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