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Friday, July 23


It is high time that I address the most overused word in the English language.  Actually, it is a two-word hyphenate, or perhaps a compound word, depending on how you spell.


My beautiful wife, being a reasonable person and a new Cub fan, was in agreement with me on the Cubs' chances this year.  She opened the paper, saw the double-digit lead the Deadbirds have on us, and readily accepted the fact that the season is over.

But yesterday, someone told her about the wild-card, so now she is marching around like the rest of the blue-kool-aid-sipping pollyannas, calculating our wild-card chances.

I know Florida last year and Anaheim in 2002 won the whole enchilada as a Wild-card.  Worst thing that could have happened, in my opinion, because it completely invalidates the regular season, and gives unwarranted hope to legions of fans across the baseball world. 

 I'm a purist, okay, and I happen to think that the extra-super-excessively-long regular season ought to count for something!  Only those who finish at the top should be rewarded.  If we're going to invite extra teams in the playoff mix, hey, more money can be made if we expand the field to ALL second place finishers, and the top 2 third place finishers!  Let's make it like hockey!  Invite 16 teams in the playoffs!  An extra money-maker for the owners!  As it is, there are eight, so even a team like the Cubs, who have no leadoff man, no closer, no leadership and no composure to speak of, has a legitimate claim to dream of playoff entry, and once you get in the playoffs, who knows?  

Well, you might say, what's wrong with a little extra hope, whether it's unwarranted or not?  Isn't hope good?

Sure it is, I love it as much as the next guy.  But there are concepts even more important than hope, such as fairness.  It is good to have hope in something that is within your control, because that way, if you work hard and stay true to your hopes, eventually you will receive your fair reward.  It was good, in my opinion, for us to have hopes of winning the Central this year.  You whip the Deadbirds, the AssTrolls, and the others, you're fairly assured of winning the division.

So far this year, we are playing the division pretty even, and that's where we are today: a little above .500, and light-years behind the leader. 

Now, let's talk about the wild-card, which is a far more complicated scenario.  Here, instead of dealing with five other teams, one or two of which are any good, now you have ALL the teams in the NL, most of which have some sort of shot at this.  The permutations of what could happen that affects the wild-card race are far too numerous to even comprehend. (A doctoral dissertation could be written about the machinations behind the 1998 wild-card race, which eventually was won and lost by a Neifi Perez homer and a desperate flop-dive by Mark Grace to catch a popped-up bunt.)

The point is, with the wild-card, you could play excellent ball, and take care of your own business, and if someone else is playing EVEN better, you get bit.  If teams take turns beating each other, it can work against you.  If the leaders of the divisions, including your own, fall back to earth to the benefit of the teams playing against them, it can spell doom to our chances.  There's only ONE wild-card to hand out, and there are too many factors that may work against you in your bid to be the BEST second-place team, which just isn't FAIR.

So I am not going to refer to, hope for, or discuss the chances of a wild-card berth, and I urge you to prohibit the term from your own vocabulary, too.  If they make it, then we'll come back and revisit the issue.  Until then, don't bug me with it.