As a sports reformer and activist, sometimes you get so busy identifying what’s wrong with sports and trying to fix the problems that you forget to stop and appreciate what’s right. I’m not going to let that happen this time.

The drama I saw unfold last night — for the last month really — involving the wild card races in both the American and National Leagues was unparalleled in my lifetime. See St. Petersburg TimesThis Was Baseball History; Savor It.”

I didn’t have a horse in the race. I’m not a fan of the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, or Atlanta Braves — the four teams battling for a wild card spot in the playoffs. And still I was mesmerized by the drama that was unfolding, as ESPN did a phenomenal job of keeping us up-to-date on all the twists and turns throughout the night.

But in the end, it was the Tampa Bay Rays that stole the spotlight. The Rays, a team who had slashed $30 million from its payroll, battling the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, American League East foes with payrolls about four times bigger.

The Tampa Bay Rays. Nine games back in September. Seven runs down in the eighth inning of the last game of the season. And they came back to win the wild card and move on to the playoffs. Amazing. See Tampa Bay Tribune, “Rays Are a Team to Appreciate Now, Forever.”

The unpredictability of sports — when athletes are giving it their all and the physical, mental and emotional strengths and flaws of human beings are on display for all to see — that’s one thing that’s right with sports.

It’s the real deal. The ultimate in reality TV.

–- Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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