It pretty much goes without saying that the Yankees are eyeing a division championship and trying to avoid getting stuck with a Wild Card birth. After all, the thought of a one game playoff isn't particularly palatable to anyone, even a playoff-starved franchise like the New York Yankees. But just because you can't get filet mignon doesn't mean you pass on a tasty burger. On the strength of their victory yesterday over the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees today sit alone in sole possession of that second Wild Card spot. As my mind thinks over the possibility of the matchup, yet another silly development that's the brainchild of Bud Selig's bizarre reign, I can't help but laugh at the potential disaster for Yankees opponent.
Short of some sort of massive implosion befalling the teams or another squad getting as hot as the sun, the likely other participant in the Wild Card play-in game will be either the Oakland A's or the Los Angeles Angels. These two would also be known as the teams with the best records in all of baseball. They also have the two best run differentials in baseball (+160 and +86, respectively), which when compared to the Yankees -25 makes them look like demigods. Even just a cursory glance at the three teams' rosters is enough to be thoroughly impressed with the two AL West squads and shrug your shoulders at the Yankees. It would be a David vs Goliath situation to be sure. But it certainly helped David that he didn't have to fight Goliath in a best out of seven situation.
Now obviously either of these teams would be favorites in the play-in game against the Yankees, particularly if they're not sending Masahiro Tanaka or some as of yet un-acquired ace to the mound. Plus they'll have home field advantage, which is helpful if often overrated. But baseball's postseason is notoriously sketchy when it comes to actually crowning one of the very best teams in the league, and that's only compounded when you shorten a series to one game. Inferior players put up great stats in short series all the time, but just a single game? Any big leaguer can be a hero. Would it really be that surprising if Mike Trout put up an 0-4 while Brendan Ryan smacked a vital RBI single? All that work over 162 games boiled down to a couple of bad bounces or mistakes.
Of course I would shed nary a tear for either of those potential opponents was surprised by the Yankees in what amounts to only a slightly-weighted coin flip. But I can't help but be amused how preposterous it is that either the A's or Angels could potentially be rewarded for their excellent seasons with such a dangerous postseason situation. The scenario is only exacerbated by the fact that the Yankees aren't very good. In the end, we should all be thankful that the Yankees' Plan B is so rife with potential for a fluke upset. I think it's bad for baseball as a whole, but it's certainly good fortune for us.