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MLB Playoffs: Wild Card Games- Enter Baseball Thunderdome

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October means playoff baseball and last night, MLB’s playoffs began with a thriller between two AL East rivals. The Blue Jays managed to beat the Baltimore Orioles to move on to the Division series, but it took them eleven innings and a walk-off home run from Edwin Encarnacion off of not-Zach-Britton to do it. Tonight, The Mets will send one of the best young pitchers in the game, Noah Syndergaard, to the hill to face the Giants and a pitcher- Madison Bumgarner- whose playoff performances have been the stuff legends are made of. This is nothing short of baseball thunderdome.

When baseball first introduced this new playoff format, I was skeptical. Baseball is played in series. That is how it has been basically forever and that system works extremely well. In-season series help cement rivalries and inject game-to-game strategy that is catnip for baseball wonks like me. The anything-can-happen nature of single baseball games means that randomness might beat out merit more often than not. But for all the negatives with having a spot in the divisional series decided by a single game, four years into this new system, it is clear that the Wild Card play-in game is a massive success for MLB. In fact, it is pure, unfiltered baseball awesomeness.

There have already been incredible, iconic games in the Wild Card play-in. There was the titanic roar of Pirates fans overjoyed to see the team back to contention for the first time since Barry Bonds left town, a cacophony that unnerved Reds starter Jonny Cueto to the point where he dropped the ball and ended up balking. 2014 gave us the incredible Athletics-Royals battle that swung back and forth like a wrecking ball. And last night was a masterpiece as well. Here we had two teams who could barely separate themselves for each other over 162 games despite eighteen head-to-head battles in the regular season. In last night’s game, they failed to separate themselves again for eleven more innings, with every moment infused with the win-or-go home tension of a Game 7. This is hardly coincidence.The play-in game is built to create iconic games. There may be bad games in the future- giant blow-outs, ugly error-laden messes, but they will be the exception. Insane drama is in the DNA of the single game play-in. It is the 1978- Bucky-f&@#ing-Dent-Game-163-  every year.

Tonight, the most successful playoff pitcher in history will take on a man who is nicknamed after a Norse-God. It’s baseball Thunderdome and it is incredible.

Author: E.H. Decker

E.H. Decker is the name of a pen, like Mark Twain, not A.T. Cross. Said pen belongs to a father of two writing between jobs on movies, parenting and obsessing over movies, tv, music, wine and words. Comments here are encouraged so long as you can be respectful to others and you have actually taken the time to read what you're commenting on.

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