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Should MLB teams really celebrate wild card victories (or even just wild card berths for that matter) like they just won the Stanley Cup? In an eventful 5 day span for the Toronto Blue Jays, we saw the team explode into a typhoon of champagne and Bud Light on the two occasions referenced above. In both cases I saw my twitter feed flooded with hundreds of comments (many from sports media members outside of baseball) asking WTF is up with this? They haven’t won anything yet!

Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) tweeted at 11:43 PM on Tue, Oct 04, 2016:

Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) tweeted at 11:46 PM on Tue, Oct 04, 2016:

I know it wasn’t Albert’s intention to pin this behaviour specifically on the Blue Jays, but some of his followers certainly spun it that way. Unless this was Albert’s first look at the MLB playoffs, I’m sure he knows that every wild card team partakes in these celebrations and that it’s not just a product of what one of his followers categorized as #Canada. As a Canadian, I found myself a bit sensitive to the fact that he was asking why the Toronto Blue Jays were acting in such a way instead of linking the behaviour to baseball in general. But as I mentioned above, I’m sure that wasn’t his intention. Regardless, it really is a legitimate question that many sports fans have been asking for years. Why are they celebrating so much in baseball when they haven’t won a damn thing yet?

I think the answer is quite simple. These victories warrant this type of celebration in every way! Sure, it’s easy for someone who covers or plays in the other major North American sports leagues to call this type of thing silly. Even some baseball fans believe it to be way over the top, and their opinions can be backed I’m sure. I’m all for it though, and to support this view I’m going to quickly compare the Major League Baseball season and playoff arrangement to those of the NBA, NFL, and NHL.

League Teams

Regular

Season

Games

Teams that make the playoffs

Percentage
MLB 30 162 8 (27.3%)*
NFL 32 16 12 (37.5%)**
NBA 30 82 16 (53.3%)
NHL 30 82 16 (53.3%)

*10 if you count the 2 teams that lose the Wild Card games.
**(17 weeks)

The MLB season is 162 games over a 180 day period. Think about that for a moment and then factor in games that are rained out and need to be made up, or even practice time. Those rained out games are not off days until the players get to the field. It’s not like some kid who wakes up to 6 feet of snow and screams “No school, I’m going back to sleep!” So what’s my point here? How many chances do these guys really get to crush some Bud Lights with their teammates as they celebrate something they’ve accomplished together? Now I’m not trying to say baseball players don’t go out after games or have some beers on the plane as they travel to their next destination, but can we at least agree that ball players spend a much larger % of their season at “work” than in the other sports leagues?

30 teams play through a gruelling 162 game schedule for a chance to be 1 of only 8 teams to play off for the World Series. 2 of those 8 have to survive a 1 game playoff against a team often just as good as they are while their opponents (fresh off destroying a locker room with booze while donning ski goggles themselves) get to go home. Talk about “just the tip” eh?

The NBA and NHL play half as many games over the same period of time, after which more than half the league makes the playoffs! Come on…

To those who have an issue with celebrating the Wild Cards, when exactly is it ok to sit back and enjoy an accomplishment? Should it be World Series or bust? There are things in my life that I deem worth celebrating that others chuckle at. Everyone is different and events and accomplishments can mean a lot more or less to someone else. There is a pretty easy line to draw from that example back to the annoyed NFL reporter wondering why Troy Tulowitzki is being interviewed on national TV completely blinded by Baby Duck. Someone get Troy his goggles!

These celebrations are just part of baseball, and they are more than earned. If they bother you, just choose another lane I guess.

Photo Courtesy of Sportsnet/MLB

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