Rays, Cardinals are up, Red Sox, Braves down in wild wild-card
After one of the most thrilling regular-season conclusions in baseball history, the web is abuzz with scenes of champagne-filled euphoria in some clubhouses and demoralized agony in others.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays won the National and American league wild-card playoff berths, while the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were eliminated.
Let's take a look at what the teams' hometown papers are saying.
The Tampa Bay Rays:
TBO.com describes how the Rays became the first team in MLB history to be nine games out of a postseason spot in September and still reach the playoffs.
Tampabay.com details the champagne-filled celebration in the locker room following what Ben Zobrist said "just doesn't happen in baseball. This is what you would dream about happening."
St. Louis Cardinals:
Bryan Burwell of stltoday.com struggles to find an accurate word to describe the Cardinals, who were left for dead a little more than month ago yet have miraculously made the playoffs. Here are the words that he's considering: Lucky? Bold? Relentless? Unpredictable? Frustrating? Resilient? Flawed? Fabulous?
Bernie Bytes of stltoday.com discusses the top 10 reasons for the Cards' comeback. No. 1, he says, is the Braves' collapse.
Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution calls the Braves' woeful 10-20 record down the stretch "one of the worst collapses in sports history" and suggests that the problem is larger than a few roster tweaks.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution says that Braves did some major mismanaging. He doesn't think Manager Fredi Gonzalez should be fired, but he thinks he needs to become far more assertive.
The Red Sox:
Baseball Prospectus had given the Red Sox a 99.6% chance of making the playoffs. Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn describes what 0.4% looks like.
A Boston Globe reporter is shocked to be heading to a news conference with the demoralized Red Sox. For much of the season, he was sure he would be off to Fenway Park on this date to watch the team work out before Game 1 of the AL division series. Sitting at the airport, he recalls that the Red Sox haven't won two games in a row since August.
Photo: The Tampa Bay Rays swarm Evan Longoria. Credit: Brian Blanco / European Pressphoto Agency