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Friday, March 2, 2012

MLB and the widening wildcard window...

Last year the September to remember baseball races between the Braves and Cardinals, and the Red Sox and Rays were stuff of legend. The day to day slow agonizing collapse of the Braves and Red Sox while desperately trying to fend off the relentless, stubborn pursuit of the Rays and Cardinals, gave a playoff chase new meaning. The nail biting excitement seemed to intensify daily, heart wrenching losses and blown opportunity, miraculous comebacks and grind em out wins, the tension built as the fans excitement meter pegged the red. Finally, one game left in the season, all the marbles on the table, four teams, two playoff spots. Who would it be? Could the struggling Braves and Red Sox hold on? Would the upstart Rays and Cardinals complete a miracle that seemed so implausible only weeks earlier?...
Fast forward one year and rewind the scenario, it would all be meaningless and a September yawn fest would replace the drama as all four teams would be assured a playoff spot under the new format being instituted by major league baseball. A one game playoff between four wildcard teams, two in each league, would be the outcome. A watered down dilution that invites a future third place division team to compete at a chance to win the world series. With the Houston Astros moving to the american league in 2013, both leagues will field three divisions of five teams, equalizing the chances of making the playoffs in all divisions. Add to this balance, the chance for one team in each league the opportunity to make the playoffs as the most deserved runner-up, gives the long and grinding regular season true value.
 This concept of adding a less deserved "next runner-up" just dilutes the purpose. A one game wildcard playoff to get the chance at a five game playoff, and then a seven game playoff, and then finally a seven game world series, dosen`t add any benefit to the playoff system other than to drag it out even farther. I don`t understand the thinking behind this. What benefit is derived for baseball or it`s fans? How is the game improved from taking from the reason for a 162 game season in the first place. The long and weary regular season is designed for the best to rise to the top and to weed out the weak and less deserving through attrition. This new formula does nothing but degrade this process by throwing a lifeline to weaker teams...but, that`s just the way I see it!