In case not everyone has turned the pages on their Shakira 12-month calendars yet, it’s worth noting that September is, surprisingly only to a few, upon us yet again, and this year the month has burst onto the scene replete with drama, tumult, and outright nonsense. I speak, clearly, of baseball’s wild card race. I challenge, has the word “wild” – aside from it’s mutant form in Bill and Ted’s band “Wyld Stallyns” – ever been used more appropriately than to described the absolute inexplicability that runs amok this September?

C’mon, the Marlins? It appears that Dontrell Willis has kicked not only his foot but his entire team into gear, inciting a fire under the Marlins collective tuchis’ (do fish have butts?) and catapulting them into the lead in the NL wild card race.

Similarly, one needs look no further than the respective central divisions to witness pennant races the way that the late, late, late Abner Doubleday and his colleagues intended them to be played. Both sides of the league feature a trio of teams, each within a trio of games of joining a trio of other contenders in October. This is what baseball is about, folks! – that, and steroids.

What – you want even more excitement? Consider this: both the Oakland Raiders, defending Super Bowl losers, and Tecmo Super Bowl, an undisputed legend in the annals of video gamery, once employed Bo Jackson -or a pixilated likeness thereof. His other two athletic employers? Why, none other than the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, who at present are entrenched in a pennant duel so captivating that even Bo don’t know for whom to root! Hold onto your knickers!

Incidentally, one of the more profound lessons I learned while studying abroad in Australia last fall was that “root” is a commonly used descriptor for the act of “making love” and/or “banging”, thus firmly unifying the unapologetically male worlds of crude sexual slang and sports. Integrate this into your vernacular as you see fit.

With so many teams still alive and battling in the wild card fray – hold the phone, do I hear a Boston – New York ALCS? – , it has become astoundingly evident that the wild card is far less a second-place finisher than it is a dark horse contenda’, coldly lurking in the shadows of its division with a battle axe, waiting for a chance to strike. Home field advantage? Ask the Yankees and Braves how much of an advantage it provided in their early exits from the playoffs last year. And what eventually followed? One of the most engaging World Series’ in recent memory: a wild-card duel that provided California with more action than the collective film catalog of a certain gubernatorial candidate. Any team that overlooks the potential of the wild card this year might as well crack into the latest Ikea catalog for some nice October lawn chairs.

But, amidst all of the revelry and brew surrounding the feverish wild card race, it’s important to recognize those teams for whom Fortuna’s wheel did not spin favorably. One might mention, for example, the ill-fated Tigers, who find themselves in a position so perilous that even divine influence could bring them only within 30 games of the wild card. But, like their Cincinnati brethren in the NFL, the Tigers have been discounted almost from the beginning of the season, delegated immediately to the realm of drinking game subject (grab a case of Keystone light, tune into a Detroit game, and race their opponent to 24).

But the conversation moves decidedly closer to home when the topic of my beloved Brewers arises, often in the same context as ravaged caribou carcasses and syphillis. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy when one is as ingrained in Brewers fandom as is yours truly – when playing .400 ball becomes a benchmark and the race for the worst record in all of MLB – a tour de last that the Brewers participated in last season – becomes compelling if for no other reason than to give the Brew Crew some – any – distinction. It’s hard to say why exactly the Brewers are so endearing – perhaps it’s the unabashed association with beer, or perhaps the unabashed association with beer – but whatever it is, it has me firmly rooted on my couch all three times the Brewers are televised every decade, wincing all the while.

Meanwhile, I’ll hold out for the day when the Brewers one again make the playoffs on their own merit, without the alleged “Brewers Concession Playoff Berth” that Bud Selig – who finds himself in the particularly advantageous position of being both commissioner of baseball and Brewers owner – announced last week during a press conference that I just made up.

Until then, you’ll find me enjoying the drama of the September’s wild wild card race, with a smile and a case of Keystone as the Tigers take on . . . anyone.

Janowitz can be reached at njanowitz@campustimes.org.



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