Baseball Does Something Right, Adds 2nd Wild Card

"Chu hear bout dees new Wile Carr? Crazy man."


 

by Alex “The Dors” Dorsky

 

The start of the 2012 baseball season is just around the corner. The A’s and Mariners start things off with a two-game series in Tokyo on March 28-29, and then the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals will come to South Florida to open the Miami Marlins new stadium on April 4. The season finally kicks into full gear on April 5 with 7 games.

The NL won the World Series 3 out of the past 4 years (and 6 out of the past 11), but the balance of power may have shifted over the off-season with sluggers Albert Pujols (Cardinals to Angels) and Prince Fielder (Brewers to Tigers) jumping ship from NL playoff teams to the AL, and intriguing newcomers Yu Darvish (Rangers) and Yoenis Cespedes (A’s) also joining the junior circuit.

However, the biggest change in 2012 (in my opinion) is the revision to the playoff format that adds a 2nd Wild Card team in each league.

Under the new format, each league will send 5 teams to the playoffs instead of the previous 4 — 3 division winners and 2 wild cards. The 2 wild card teams will square off in a 1-game, winner-take-all contest to determine who advances to face the #1 seed in a more traditional best-of-five series.

I believe these welcome changes will (1) add excitement to games in August and September for contending teams and their fans, while also (2) making the difference between Division winner and Wild Card more meaningful.

Point (1) is a no-brainer. Any team around .500 heading into September will still have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Last year both St. Louis and Tampa Bay showed how much ground could be made up in the season’s final month. With an additional post-season spot up for grabs, I’m guessing Pittsburgh and Kansas City will be the only teams mathematically eliminated by Labor Day.

As for point (2), some might argue that adding more teams to the playoffs “cheapens” the importance of the regular season. That might be true to some degree, but the baseball season is a 162-game grind, and the most talented and consistent teams invariably rise to the top. Therefore, I feel that finishing among the league’s top-third certainly merits a shot at the championship.

In fact, the new format rewards all Division winners with a few precious days off after the regular season to recuperate and set up their pitching rotations, while the Wild Card teams must play an elimination game and deal with additional travel. The victorious Wild Card team then immediately moves on to face a well-rested #1 seed – seems fair to me.

Finally, Bud Selig has done something smart.

"HUH? You agree with me? Shoot, I take it back."

One Comment

  1. Point #2 is spot-on. Nice work!