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Sports


Pluto: What it will take for the Tribe to play in October
Terry Pluto explains how Major League Baseball's wild card system works
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Courtesy of Keith Allison
Download (WKSU Only)

The Indians are heading into the final weeks of the season with a shot at the playoffs…for the first time since 2007.  The way they’d likely do it is by winning the American League wild card.

The Indians are a half-game out in the wild card chase, behind Texas and Tampa Bay. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto explains how the system works and how the Indians have remained in contention. 

Listen: Terry Pluto breaks down baseball's wild card

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Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:51)


Fans aren't exactly "wild"
It’s September, and the Indians still have a chance at the playoffs. If they get there, it will be as a wild card, and those rules have changed, though Terry Pluto notes the Indians fans haven’t had much reason to pay much attention.

“We haven’t bothered to explain this because, when you keep losing 93 games, there’s nothing to explain other than, ‘You stink and (here’s) what you need to get better next year.’”

How the wild card works
But here’s the explanation for those who might want to pay attention now: The three teams that are likely to win their American League divisions are Boston, Detroit and Oakland. The fourth team on the playoffs will be the winner of a one-game wildcard playoff. And six teams are within four games of each other to try for that wildcard.

“It’s the hardest way to go,” says Pluto. But “if you’re the Indians you just want to get in the playoffs no matter how you do it.” It's a hard way to go because whichever team wins the wildcard has to play the team with the best record in the American League, which is likely Boston. 

“As (Indians Manager) Terry Francona always says, ‘Yeah that’s the biggest game until our next game,” but in this case, says Pluto, it is.

A good system
Pluto likes the new wildcard playoff because “there are fans in six different American League cities -- from Kansas City to New York to Texas to Cleveland to Tampa Bay -- thinking their team has a shot to get in. And truthfully, they do.”

And in short-series playoffs, he notes, any team can get hot.

Pluto says the Indians got this far this year because of a team effort.

“If the Indians get in the wild card, it’s a remarkable achievement because it’s not like they’re having one hot pitcher and one hot hitter just carrying them through the month of September.”

And for that, he credits Francona, who kept the team going this season even during dry spells.

“What can a  manager do? A lot of it is dealing with the egos, and not having your guys quit.”

Still, says Pluto, fans haven’t caught on. “They’re barely going to draw more fans than they did last year.” Still, “I’m so glad there’s something to talk about (in September) besides what the Browns ought to do in the 2020 draft.”

Terry Pluto on Browns troubles on and off the field
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MP3 Download
(10:17)

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MLB draft is tonight, and the Indians go fifth
Thursday, June 6, 2013

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