Friday, March 2, 2012

Major League Baseball Adds Addtional Wild-Card Team

We saw this coming for some time.  Major League Baseball (MLB) has talked about adding a wild-card team to the current playoff system.  Even the idea of a one game playoff between the now two wild-card teams is not new.  Me?  I detest it.  What does it really accomplish?  With only one game to play, teams who have proven their worth for 162 games must now put it all into one game.  Yes it will make for drama.  Of that I have no doubt.  But to what end?  Again these teams who made the playoffs did so because they were good over a long period of time.  It took five starters to get them where they are.  Yes some pulled their weight more than others but it wasn't one pitcher starting every game.  Now you ask these teams to put one guy out there in a winner takes all scenario.  It won't matter how they got to that point.  Maybe the staff ace had to pitch them into the playoffs and isn't available to start the one game.  Sure that happens to other teams now but that is going into a longer playoff series where no matter what that staff ace will get his shot at the opponent even if he pitched the last game of the season and now has to wait until game three. 

The NFL is built for a one game and advance scenario in their playoffs.  They only play 16 regular season games.  The quarterback who got them there will start every playoff game.  I don't get it.  MLB will tell you there isn't room in the schedule for more than a one game playoff and they don't want to play into mid-November.  Very valid points but it is nothing but excuses for shoving a one game wild-card round on us.  It seems like players and teams alike complained about the three game playoff rounds that have been in place at various times throughout baseball history.  Now they are happy with a one game playoff?  Where are those guys now?  Another argument is that more teams would be in play to make the playoffs.  That argument can be made no matter how many teams are let into the playoffs.  Whether 12 or 24 teams make the playoffs each year there would always be teams battling for the last playoff spot.

Maybe when I actually see it in action I'll like it.  As a Braves and Red Sox fan who watched my teams fall out of the playoffs on the last day of the 2011 season I should think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I don't.  Don't have franchises setup their teams and rotations for the long haul and then let it come down to one game where maybe starer #3 has to be the guy?  It doesn't pass the sanity test to me. 

Below is a link to Jayson Stark's article that breaks down wild-card addition and the other changes that were made to the MLB playoffs.  There were many so please take a look as I can't even start to do them justice.  As always Stark does a great job of explaining a complex subject. 


  1. I agree with you on those points you made about not liking the extra wildcard team. It really puts the wildcard teams in a bind having to win that one more game to advance.

    But I think that was part of why they did it.

    I can't remember who it was, but someone on SportsCenter mentioned a year in which the Yanks rested their players going into the playoffs. They really didn't care if they won the division, they had the wildcard spot locked. Would they have done that if they had to play a that wildcard game?

    That sportscaster said that was the main reason for adding the additional wildcard team, to make fighting for the division title, and thus the late season, more relevant.

    Not sure if I agree with that, but it was something that made me pause and think about.

  2. There is a point to be made about teams actually pushing at the end of the season to win their division. I don't have time to go back and check the past seasons but I wonder how many times this really would have made a difference. I agree you definitely don't want to be in the one game playoff but if this really only affects 1 division leader is it worth it? And is it worth it if that one division leader, who may be the best team in baseball, has to tire out their bullpen or ace pitcher in winning the division? In that case it seems as though it would negate the whole point. Good arguments for both sides but again I don't think this is a good thing. I'll be curiuos to see how it plays out.