Friday, November 18, 2011

Baseball gets it right on wild card changes

Bravo to Bud Selig and Major League Baseball for finally doing something right, and on the first try no less!

MLB will expand the postseason to add one wild card team to each league, having the two wild cards in the leagues square off against each other to see who can continue to play baseball in October. The one-game playoff is perfect because it ensures the excitement of a sudden-death game for the right to move on, but does not drag out the postseason any longer than necessary. I love the idea of recreating the excitement we saw on the last day of the 2011 season every year.

Of course, there will be some objectors, including players, even though they stand to benefit if their team has an extra chance to make and then advance in the playoffs. Players such as Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees hate the proposal because they do not believe that they should have to face an inferior team in a do-or-die game. It’s a legitimate point, but the new format puts a greater emphasis on winning the division outright than has existed in recent years. If a team wins its division, it does not have to worry about suffering a too-quick exit from the playoffs during the wild-card round.

Plus, the extra wild card gives teams such as the Yankees that are often penalized for playing in the toughest division in baseball an extra shot at ensuring their good work over the full year does not go to waste, even if they come in one game behind the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, if the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all make the playoffs because of the extra wild card, there will be quick calls for a rethinking of the new format.

But all in all, I think MLB got this one exactly right and I am looking forward to the playoff action next year.

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