Crazy about the NFL and Major League Baseball? October 4 will be one of the best sports days of the year.
By Dan Friedell
And make no mistake, Oct. 4 offers a packed NFL schedule.
(So many games that one – Jets vs. Dolphins – is being played in London!)
But the true gem on Oct. 4 this year is the Major League Baseball slate.
Unlike in past seasons, when the final regular season games (aside from tie-breakers) have been played on a wide range of days, this year, the last day of the season is a Sunday, and all the games will begin by 3:10 p.m. ET. (Remember the wacky 2011 Boston Red Sox collapse that saw them lose the division and then the AL Wild Card? It came on a Wednesday night.) So buckle up.
Imagine a third-inning Andrew McCutchen homer for the Pittsburgh Pirates putting them in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central, followed by a Cam Newton touchdown pass in the waning moments of the Panthers’ game to clinch a win against the Buccaneers? It could happen.
If you’re thinking about that DVR upgrade that will let you capture six programs at once, be sure you have it hooked up by the end of September.
OK, naysayers, I’m hearing you. The division races could all be settled by then, and that would be a bummer. But it’s unlikely the Baseball Gods could be so cruel. Looking at today’s standings, the final day features only two head-to-head match-ups between teams that could be fighting for the same playoff spot. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be spoilers and heroes.
If you want spoilers, just remember the famous Wednesday night four years ago: the out-of-contention Baltimore Orioles eliminated the Red Sox.
If you want heroes, they can come in all shapes and sizes. Take Rays first baseman Dan Johnson – who hit a solo homer (just his second of the season) with two outs and two strikes to force extra innings in that epic win over the Yankees in 2011. If you’re still not sold, here’s a MLB.com’s recap of that awesome night.
And if that’s not enough, here’s a kicker: three of the four teams (substitute the Blue Jays for the Red Sox) that helped shape MLB’s argument to run all the final games concurrently – will be in the mix again as the AL East title should be in play. This time the Orioles (vs. Yankees) and the Rays (vs. Jays) could be spoilers. Here are the key games to watch Oct. 4. Don’t forget to set your DVR! (All times Eastern.)
Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (3:05 p.m.)
New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles (3:05 p.m.)
Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants (3:05 p.m.)
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (3:10 p.m.)
Washington Nationals at New York Mets (3:10 p.m.)
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays (3:10 p.m.)
Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins (3:10 p.m.)
Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks (3:10 p.m.)
San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers (3:10 p.m.)
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins – in London – (9:30 a.m.)
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (1 p.m.)
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills (1 p.m.)
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (4:25 p.m.)
Photo: Adam / flickr