Baseball's Wacky Wild-Card Gimmick

The pennant races may never be the same, as owners tamper with tradition to placate television

But is there any comfort to be found?

Man is in love and loves what vanishes,

What more is there to say?

-- Yeats, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen

Just three weeks to go, and another fabled American institution will enter that Valhalla of cultural symbols, the citadel of nostalgic memory. From the Pan Am Building in New York City to the final episode of Cheers, the familiar moorings that give meaning to everyday life become unhinged. So it is with the greatest protracted emotional spectacle in sports: the nail-biting tension of September baseball pennant races.

At the end of last week,...

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