It wasn’t as exciting as last season (nothing ever will be), but there was plenty of intrigue on this final day of the 2012 baseball season.
First the A’s beat the Rangers to take the AL West and complete an epic collapse by Texas. The Rangers led the division by four games with six games left. They proceeded to lose five of those games, the last three to the A’s. Texas took first place after the first weekend of the season and held that lead up until Wednesday. They never built a huge lead — it ranged all season from three to six and a half games, but it seemed comfortable as they cruised along. Now they have to play a winner-take-all Wild Card game.
The A’s were as many as 13 games behind in late June and were 42-43 in early July. But then they just refused to lose, going 52-25 the rest of the way.
The Yankees, who had a 10 game lead in mid-July, saw that lead disintegrate and went into the final game of the season needing a win or an Orioles loss to finally clinch the East. Of course the stupid Yankees won, so they took the division. Still though, the Orioles are the other Wild Card.
And then there is Miguel Cabrera. Going into the day the Triple Crown seemed secure — Josh Hamilton would have to hit two homers to top Cabrera in that category. Mike Trout would have to go 4-4 while Cabrera went 0-4 to snatch the batting title. Neither of those things happened. To his credit, Cabrera played Wednesday night instead of sitting and protecting his average. So now he is the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.
The second Wild Card took some of the drama out of the day. All four AL teams were guaranteed a post season slot. Obviously, winning the division is a huge advantage over being one of the Wild Cards and having to play that extra game. But still, the prospect of not being in the playoffs at all would have put far more pressure on the teams and made the games more tense, like we had last season.