NHL’s image issue

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

A crazy Major League Baseball regular season should become even more crazier when the American and National League wild-card games begin tonight and Wednesday, respectively, and to be followed by the league divisional series.

It was a regular season that featured a wild, four-team, final-day scramble for two AL wild-card berths, a historic NL West Division race that saw the Giants win 107 games to edge the Dodgers by one measly game, and a red-hot Cardinals team that seized the NL’s second wild card during a sizzling September run.

It’s only appropriate that four storied franchises will play in the two wild-card games.

The Yankees and Red Sox each finished at 92-70, but Boston took the season series and thus won the right to host New York in tonight’s AL wild-card game.

The defending World Series champion Dodgers, who couldn’t overtake the Giants for the division title since their last meeting Sept. 5, will host the Cardinals, who won 19 of their final 22 games, in Wednesday’s NL wild-card meeting.

New York ace Gerrit Cole, who had a 7.64 ERA over his last three starts, will start against Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi tonight.

The teams played a memorable one-game playoff 43 years ago, when Bucky Dent’s clutch, three-run home run led the Yankees over the Red Sox that eventual fueled New York to back-to-back World Series titles. Since then, Boston beat New York in postseason series in 2004 and 2018, sparking the Red Sox to eventual World Series championships.

In the NL game, it will be fascinating to watch the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer pitch against the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright.

Scherzer is the guy you want on your side for a do-or-die game. He is postseason-tested, most notably from his World Series championship run with the Nationals in 2019. He has pitched at Cy Young Award level at age 37 this season, initially for the Nationals (8-4, 2.76 ERA) and then for the Dodgers (7-0, 1.98).

Wainwright has enjoyed a magical, age-40 season, going 17-7, 3.05.

n Here are my predictions for this month’s postseason:

n WILD-CARD GAMES — Yankees over Red Sox; Dodgers over Cardinals.

n DIVISIONAL ROUND — Rays over Yankees in 5 games; White Sox over Astros 4; Giants over Dodgers in 5; Braves over Brewers in 5.

n CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND — Rays over White Sox in 6; Giants over Braves in 6.

n WORLD SERIES — Rays over Giants in 7.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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