Yahoo Contributor Network
This article was created on the Yahoo Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo every day. Learn more »Yahoo Contributor Network
Top five American League wild card teams
Since the Wild Card took effect in 1995, three American League teams have played in the World Series as wild card teams, and two of them won it all. The New York Yankees won the first American League Wild Card in 1995 but lost three straight to the Seattle Mariners after winning the first two in the first American League Division Series (best-of-five). Here are the five best American League Wild Card teams through 2010 based on final season record and postseason performance.
Honorable Mention - 2001 Oakland Athletics
In most any other year, the Oakland A's would have won the division with 102 wins, but this was the year that the Seattle Mariners won 116. The A's won the AL Wild Card by 17 games. However, they lost the ALDS 3-2 to the Yankees after winning the first two games. Game 3 included Derek Jeter's(notes) amazing seventh-inning relay to nail Jeremy Giambi at the plate and keep the Yankees alive.
#5 - 2003 Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox finished 95-67, six games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox won the wild card by two games and then defeated the A's 3-2 in the ALDS. The Red Sox lost the first two and then came back to take the series. The ALCS was a classic back-and-forth duel between the Red Sox and Yankees that was tied at 3-3 after six games. Boston had a 4-0 lead in Game 7, but with the game tied 5-5, the Yankees' Aaron Bonne hit the first Tim Wakefield(notes) knuckleball of the bottom of the 11th for a series-winning walk-off home run. Fans still say that Perdo Martinez stayed in too long, and that decision allowed the Yankees to score three in the eighth to force extra innings.
#4 - 2008 Boston Red Sox
At 95-57, the Red Sox won the AL Wild Card by six games over their rival Yankees. They played four close ALDS games and beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 to advance to the ALCS. However, the Red Sox lost their attempt at a third World Series title in the decade when they lost the ALCS 4-3 to the division-winning Tampa Bay Rays. Down 3-1, Boston won two to force Game 7, but the Rays won that game 3-1 to advance to their only World Series in the team's brief history.
#3—2006 Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers (95-67) missed the AL Central by one game but won the wild card by five. They disposed of the Yankees 3-1 in the ALDS, including two lopsided wins. The Tigers then swept four straight over the A's in the ALCS while trailing for a total of one half inning in the first three games and coming back from down 3-0 in Game 4. They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series 4-1 despite two home runs each from Craig Monroe(notes) and Sean Casey.
#2—2002 Anaheim Angels
In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won 99 games but settled for the wild card berth as Oakland took the division with 103 wins. The Angels then ripped through the ALDS 3-1 over the Yankees. The Angels out slugged New York, scoring 33 runs in four games. The Angels then cruised through the ALCS 4-1 over the Minnesota Twins. In Game 5, Adam Kennedy(notes) hit three home runs, and the Angels scored 13 to advance to the World Series.
The Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in the first all wild-card World Series. The Angels trailed 3-2 in the series after getting crushed 16-4 in Game 5, but they came back to win Games 6 and 7 in their home stadium. The Angels were down 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 6 but scored six runs to win and then won it all the next night. The Angels became the first American League Wild Card team to win the World Series.
#1 - 2004 Boston Red Sox
Even with 98 wins, the Red Sox again settled for the AL Wild Card. They swept the Angels 3-0 in the ALDS, winning big in the first two. Then, in the ALCS, it appeared that the Red Sox would fall to the Yankees once again. The Yankees won the first three games and led Game 4 4-3 in the ninth and had Mariano Rivera(notes) on the mound. Dave Roberts pinch ran for Boston and stole second base. He soon scored to tie the game. David Ortiz(notes) hit a walk-off two-run home run in the 12th to force Game 5.
Ortiz came through again with another walk-off hit in the 14th inning of Game 5. The Red Sox then tied the series and won it in seven games with a 10-3 score in Game 7 thanks to Johnny Damon's(notes) two home runs, one a grand slam. The Red Sox became the first team ever to win a postseason series after trailing 3-0 and ended a championship drought that lasted 86 years.
The wild card keeps more teams in the race and more fans interested longer. Playoff excitement has risen since the wild card began in 1995. It also gives us chances to see baseball's best rivalry in the playoffs. We will certainly see more wild card teams in each league reach and win the World Series.
Baseball Reference, Playoff and World Series Index, baseball.reference.com
Major League Baseball, Wild Card Standings, mlb.com.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. He currently coaches Little League in Florida. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly baseball radio call-in show.
More from this contributor:
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.