Dec
02

With expanded October, a lesser regular season

By

I wonder if anyone has taken an objective look at the Major League Baseball playoffs and said that the October dance needs more teams because that’s what we’re about to get. If baseball’s latest proposal goes through, each league will send an additional team to the playoffs, and the two Wild Card clubs will play a best-of-three series in advance of the LDS rounds.

For many reasons, I don’t find this a particularly appealing idea. For one, as I wrote in early November, the playoffs are simply too long. To maximize national TV exposure, baseball has added more days off than are necessary in October, and the result is a schedule that’s simply too slow after a 162-game regular season. Adding another round and another three or four days to the calendar will slow things to a crawl.

But that’s the lesser argument. The more compelling critique of this plan involves the fact that it cheapens the regular season. Jeff Passan, in a withering takedown of the plan, summarizes:

Imagine the following: The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees enter the season’s last week with 95 wins apiece. The Boston Red Sox, with 90 wins, hold a comfortable lead for the second wild-card spot, and Minnesota and Texas, each with 90 wins, have wrapped up their divisions. Suddenly, the only teams playing for something in that last week are the two best in the league. They will do everything they can to avoid a wild-card spot despite having clinched playoff spots already. Empty their rotations. Play full bore. A five-game series in the first round is already a crapshoot. A three-game series would be a complete toss-up.

Let’s say the Yankees win the AL East. The Rays exhausted their pitching staff while a team they were five games better than during the regular season – the six-month-long, 162-game regular season – was able to set up its rotation and rest its players. And that’s fair how, exactly?

Passan’s piece highlights the fiscal drive behind the added Wild Card round. Owners figure they can cash on if more teams are in the playoffs because they’ll get more money from the gate receipts, more money from TV and more money from merchandise sales. The owners’ pockets are happy, and when the owners’ pockets are happy, the players are usually well compensated too.

“As a member of a club, you’re talking about extra chances to get into the playoffs and have your season look like a success,” one MLB source said to Passan. “I make the playoffs, I keep my job.”

Passan sees this plan as the further lessening of the regular season. If one third of all baseball teams are in the playoffs, the rat race matters less and less. While Selig and Co. could opt to implement instant replay or ask Fox and ESPN executives to tone down the Boston/New York overkill and expand the overall appeal of the game, they’re going instead for the quick fix.

“Whether it’s the three-game series favored by the majority or the one-game-and-out playoff espoused by some writers – another potential insult to whatever remains of the regular season – the wrongs of expanding baseball’s postseason far outweigh the rights,” Passan wrote. Baseball, he says, “needs to stay true to itself, or at least whatever of itself remains, whatever part hasn’t been cannibalized by a god that’s colored green.”

Categories : Playoffs

90 Comments»

  1. Kiersten says:

    The main problem to me is that the non-WC teams will have about a week off between the regular season and the playoffs. Which will then cause the same problem they have in the NFL with teams who get a bye.

    And a 3-game series is a joke. The Yankees/Red Sox/Rays/Twins/etc could and do easily lose to the Orioles/Royals/Mariners in 3 games at any time. Granted, there will now be a real disadvantage to being a wild card team, but still. What’s wrong with just letting the best of the best play for the trophy?

    • Kiersten says:

      As a side, somewhat related note, it really annoys me how freaking stingy/money hungry MLB is.

      • Brian in NH says:

        Baseball has a mostly aging fan base and is getting its ass whooped in ratings and ad money by football. Young people don’t like baseball as much as they like football and basketball. I don’t know why (and maybe a thread to discuss why it is would be appropriate) but baseball knows this. playoffs=money and ad revenue. I agree that MLB could better sell itself to the people (NFL is just awesome at this, even with a league full of people with *questionable* histories) and I also agree that this isn’t the best way to do it. But in a world of dollars and cents you need to get a quick buck, and playoff expansion is an easy way to do it.

    • JeffG says:

      I agree the time off is the biggest problem and disadvantage for the teams that earned their right through the 162 game schedule.

      The way this could be fixed is do it during the regular season. You would earn your wild card spot at game 159… and switch who the wild card earners were supposed to play.

      Ties would have to be sorted out (can’t have that) so you figure out best head to head or run differential (whatever). Also home team might get screwed between the two non-playoff teams that change opponents if they were both due to play in their own stadium. I think there could be some compensation formula though.

      Anyways, just a though.

  2. bonestock94 says:

    I don’t like rewarding mediocrity.

  3. mike c says:

    the end of the regular season has been dreadful though… most teams have it locked up by then and that last week of baseball is basically worthless. the games end of 2010 were the most boring yankees/red sox games i can remember seeing

  4. Mike HC says:

    I’m all for adding more playoff teams and more playoffs in general. The playoffs are the most exciting part of the season to me anyway.

  5. kosmo says:

    Frankly I enjoy the ebb and flow of the regular season.The playoffs are simply a crapshoot .
    This proposed new playoff format allows maybe a team with a .500 record to make the playoffs.What´s the point ?
    Baseball in it´s greed for money has reared it´s ugly ugly head.

  6. detroit_yankee says:

    Well, they had to figure out SOME WAY for the Red Sox to make the playoffs. They certainly weren’t going to win the division.

    We’re looking at Boston, Tampa and NY competing now for three playoff spots instead of two. I kind of enjoyed not seeing the Sox in the playoffs this year…

  7. Matt DiBari says:

    My big fear is that you run the real risk of sending some really mediocre teams into the post season. Does a team that wins 82 games really belong in the playoffs just because they’re the fifth best team and we need five teams? How long before this drifts into an NBA situation where sub .500 teams make or contend for the playoffs every year?

  8. clarko says:

    someone should investigate: who pays for bud selig’s warhols and what influence does that have within the commissioner’s office?
    you buy bud a painting at the chicago gallery, it gets shipped to him, he can sell or retain it, influence happens.

  9. Jerome S says:

    Now on FOX: Superbowl L.
    Next on Fox: the 2015 World Series!

  10. JeffG says:

    Overall I don’t like the idea of expanding the playoffs other than having the first round go 7 games instead of five. I think the season is too long to have your season flushed down the tubes with quick sets.

  11. FIPster Doofus says:

    Minimizing the importance of the large sample size of 162 games and thus rewarding mediocrity is a fucking horrible idea. Thanks, Bud. Great work as usual!

    • mike c says:

      but you could say that going from a 162 game season to a 3-game series doesn’t make a ton of sense either. maybe 160 games into a 5-game series would be a better solution

  12. TopChuckie says:

    I am strongly against expanding the playoffs, but ease up on the argument this will allow a mediocre, possibly .500 team into the playoffs. The 5th best record in the league cannot be a .500 team. SOMEONE has to win every game played so there can’t be only 4 teams with winning records. There were 9 teams with winning records in the AL this season. ONLY a division winner from the weakest division is capable of being close or below .500, not the 5th best team.

    • kosmo says:

      Your probably right that a .500 team is highly unlikely to make it into the playoffs.I went back and checked the last 5 years and it is altogether possible for a team with 83-86 wins to make the playoffs.Rewarding a team for being 2- 5 wins over .500 is a joke .

      • TopChuckie says:

        Again, I am certainly not arguing in favor of an extra WC, but the bottom line is the division system creates far more opportunity for an undeserving team to make the playoffs than the extra WC. It’s a lot easier to have a better record than THREE teams in the AL West than it is to have a better record than 9 teams in the AL overall.

        IF they insist on this, they need to also look at eliminating divisions or at the very least eliminate the unbalanced schedule. Is it fair for the AL East teams to have to play so many games against each other while competing for the same 5th playoff spot that the AL West teams are?

        Then, once you start taking simply the Top 5 teams, it results in the only “pennant race” being between the 4th thru 8th best teams or so, while the Top 3 are sitting comfortably from August on. Yawn.

        • “…the bottom line is the division system creates far more opportunity for an undeserving team to make the playoffs than the extra WC. It’s a lot easier to have a better record than THREE teams in the AL West than it is to have a better record than 9 teams in the AL overall.”

          Yup, this line or reasoning (that adding a WC team allows a more mediocre team to make the playoffs (as compared to the current system) doesn’t hold water. The divisional structure is what allows mediocre teams into the postseason. If anything, adding a WC team will probably result, once in a while, in adding a team that has more wins than one of the division-winners.

          • If your rationale is “mediocre teams shouldn’t get handed a pass into the postseason” shouldn’t the solution to be just to take the four best teams? And not to add a second wild card which by definition will allow more “lesser” teams in?

            • You’re kinda conflating two different issues and putting words in my mouth. I’m not saying I love the current system or that I think adding another WC team is a good idea.

              In a perfect world from a competitive standpoint, I think you do away with divisions and just take the best teams into the playoffs.

              In a world in which you’re concerned with getting teams from different regions into the postseason or with holding onto the traditional divisional format (not saying I agree, but pointing out that it’s a concern), I think you take the division winners and the WC teams, however many you have, and then just seed them per record (i.e. a division winner with the fewest wins of the playoff teams gets the 4 or 5 seed and plays in the WC series – they get the benefit of getting into the postseason if they win their division, but don’t get the advantage over other playoff teams with better records).

              That second option does away with Passan’s concern, I think, and makes the proposed system more fair.

              All I was saying in the comment you responded to is that when you compare a system in which MLB adds a WC team against the current system, adding a WC team will likely not result in diluting the playoff pool too much. The thing that dilutes the playoff pool is the divisional format. That’s all I was saying.

              • Fair enough, didn’t meant to put words in your mouth. Just curious what you thought the solution should be.

                • Well what I think the solution should be wouldn’t pass some commenters’ “IT HAS TO BE PRACTICAL (IN MY OPINION)” test. Just trying to think through how to make the current system work best, here.

                  They ARE going to add a playoff team, so in that context and looking at it with the current parameters/circumstances in mind… I think you take the 3 division winners, take 2 WC teams, and then seed top-to-bottom, regardless of division/WC status. Let the two teams at the bottom play the WC series for the right to play the top seed.

              • Eh… Looking at the standings, the combo of the divisional format and adding a second WC team will dilute the pool, for sure.

                Really, if they just seed the playoff teams top to bottom regardless of division/WC winner, they’d be fine, though. Let the 2 teams with the worst records duke it out for the right to face the team with the best record.

      • Pasqua says:

        But if a sub-.500 team makes it, that just means that the teams around them are shittier. The playoffs will not reward bad baseball so much as highlight the mediocrity in the league.

  13. kyle says:

    I look at this and see it as a way to make the end of the regular season season more exciting for many teams. Now there are more teams that are fighting for that last spot as the final weeks come through as the teams that have the 4,5,6 etc. best records have reason to actually play in September. In some ways its a better reward for the regular season as teams that do have better records than other division winners but end up 2nd or 3rd behind their division winner and/or WC winner still get a shot at the world series. The WC winner is also punished for not winning the division with a longer path to the WS and with a “luckier” three game set (if you’re really angry about the “Best” teams winning the trophy why even have playoffs which reward the lucky as much as the good, do you really want to argue that the cards were among the best teams in 06). And as TopChuckie points out, the Wild card 2 winner will have a pretty good record, looking at the last ten years most of these winners have 88+wins, with the lowest being 85 and the highest 93. This plan also gives reasons for the bluejays to exist.

  14. Teh Comp Pick says:

    Worst. Idea. Ever.

    It should just be the four best teams, regardless of division from each league.

  15. Teh Comp Pick says:

    So if the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the AL east both have more wins than the AL West winner. The two AL east teams have to have a play in mini series while the 84 gm winner in the West waits and rests for their first round??? Wow. Way to completely ignore the problem.

  16. Mikeman says:

    Actually, if the expanded playoff system can be done properly, it would work to the benefit of all MLB. A couple of thoughts:
    1-Shorten the regular season through the use of double headers. If you had doubleheaders every other weekend during June, July and August you could cut at least a week from the end of the season. You’d have to make some adjustments to the options rules for AAA players and such so that the MLB team would be able to bring up personnel w/o it costing the player or the team call up options…maybe make an exception for doubleheaders or something.
    2-Limit the days off for the playoffs, like one day off for a best 2 of 3, 2 days for the 3 of 5 and 3 for the 4 of 7.
    3-I also like the idea of a straight seeding set up for the playoffs. As it is right now, some teams are automatically penalized or rewarded based simply on their geographical location. How is it right for the White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Astros, Brewers, Reds or Cardinals to get into the playoffs with fewer wins than the third place team in the AL East? No matter how many ways you look at it, it makes no sense for a team with fewer wins to get into the playoffs over a team with more wins.
    4-In the straight seeding system above, every team at the beginning of the season would be able to plan their player moves not necessarily with the idea that they’d have to break the bank to win the division but rather they could plan to do their best to win 85-90 games and a shot at the post season dance. I believe this would help teams to keep more of their homegrown talent and over the course of time make the leagues a little more balanced talent wise. It would also allow the big spenders like the Yankees to have less motivation to spend huge bucks and monopolize the upper end of the talent pool. There would still be motivation to be as high a seed as possible but we all know that once the post season starts its still a big crap shoot for everybody involved.
    5-While I am at it, let’s get rid of the unbalanced schedule once and for all, and limit the interleague stuff to matchups that we actually care about, not like the NYY/Houston or the Mets/Angels, etc.

  17. j-f says:

    They can not do this unless they eliminate divisions and go with the top five teams in the AL and the top five in the NL. Of course, this also means balancing the schedule.

    That won’t happen though.

  18. MattG says:

    Passan is correct is his scenario, but the truth is that a second wild card team should make the regular season more relevant, not less. Theoretically, the 3 division winners are supposed to be the three best teams in the league. Therefore, teams that would (theoretically) have a poorer regular season would be penalized by this three game playoff.

    I like that the division counts for something. I hated it that neither the Yanks nor Rays really tried to win the division this year. I would call that a problem. I see the problem Passan brings up, but I prefer this new problem to the current problem.

  19. ROBTEN says:

    I think they should just hold a thirty team, double round-robin, double-elimination tournament. It would be October, November, and December Madness!

  20. A.D. says:

    While Selig and Co. could opt to implement instant replay or ask Fox and ESPN executives to tone down the Boston/New York overkill and expand the overall appeal of the game, they’re going instead for the quick fix.

    This, highlight more the young talented teams around, i.e. SF – Colorado vs always have Yanks/Sox or Yanks/Mets on.

    • Hughesus Christo says:

      MLB will not do this, the NFL and NBA do not do this. We need real solutions, not “good ideas.”

      • The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken.

        • Hughesus Christo says:

          The Cowboys/Colts/Patriots/Steelers/Giants are on national TV nonstop during an NFL season.

          The Heat/Lakers/Celtics/Magic are on national TV nonstop during an NBA season

          TV networks don’t want to hear about your long term marketing plan. Notoriety comes first, then you get national tv spots.

          • Oh that’s all well and good, I hear you. If I’m ever an executive with MLB and I’m sitting in a meeting discussing realistic and practical ways to improve the game and the game’s standing with the public, I’ll probably tuck the options I find to be impractical into my back-pocket. This, here and now, however, is precisely the right forum in which to discuss good ideas, whether they’re immediately practical or not. If you don’t want to discuss an idea because you only want to discuss ideas that you find to be immediately practical, that’s all well and good and you should go for it. But if people have good ideas they want to discuss, even if those good ideas might not be immediately practical, where better to discuss those ideas than in a comment-thread on a Yankees blog with other people who might be interested in said good ideas?

            I’m not addressing whether you’re right or wrong about something be practical or impractical. I just don’t think it’s your place to dismiss someone’s idea just because you’ve decided it’s not a “real solution.”

            • Hughesus Christo says:

              I think it would be great if Fox decided to air a baseball game at 7pm every night. It would draw new viewers and they could even highlight teams like the Royals and Padres. That’s just impractical.

  21. MattG says:

    I just read through these responses; I am surprised by the universal disdain for this idea.

    This is an improvement on the current system. You might argue this isn’t enough of an improvement, but I do not see that argument here.

    We all know who the top three teams are in the AL. Yet only 2 of them will make the playoffs. This, right here, equals cheapening the regular season.

    And did no one notice the Yanks and Rays lying down at the end of the year (and the Twins, for that matter)? I personally found that despicable.

    • Can’t disagree more. If a team or two has played well enough over the course of the season to rest up for the playoffs, they have that right. And frankly, wouldn’t you want that as a fan of a team? Why push in the last few games when the playoffs are where the prize is won?

      This happens in every sport. Peyton Manning doesn’t play Game 16 if the division is locked up. LeBron would skip the last game of the season to rest for the playoffs. So on and so forth.

      • MattG says:

        You ignore the fact that one of the three best teams will not make the playoffs. Hell, Toronto might have a claim as the 4th best team in the league.

        I like to keep the divisions. Divisions are the MLB’s de-facto salary cap (you’ll notice teams’ payrolls are most similar within their own divisions), and as such, it is nice that winning the division is important. Besting the Rays and Sox over 162 games is an accomplishment. Anything that rewards that accomplishment is good in my book.

        • You ignore the fact that one of the three best teams will not make the playoffs. Hell, Toronto might have a claim as the 4th best team in the league.

          What’s your point? They should get handouts for being third best? What does Toronto have to do with anything? They weren’t better than Boston.

  22. the Other Steve S. says:

    Why not balance the schedule after putting the Brewers back in the AL where they belong. Cut the divisions to East/West and have four teams in the playoffs with East winner playing West runner-up and vice versa. Tough on the Red Sox but sacrifices have to be made.

    • If you move a NL team to the AL there’s an uneven number of teams. You’d have a situation where either one team is not playing every day, or making inter-league games a year-round thing. Either way, it’s a scheduling nightmare.

      • MattG says:

        I figured out the math once–its not much of a nightmare. 3 interleague games every day for 148 games, and one a day for 6 games. Or something similar, I forget the solution, but it’s simple.

      • the Other Steve S. says:

        They are uneven now. NL has 16 teams, AL 14. Selig moved the Brewers to the NL several years ago because he was an old Milwaukee Braves fan and thought Milwaukee should be an NL city. Look at the standings. The current setup is stupid.

        • “Uneven” as in “odd” as in “15 is an odd number, 16 and 14 are not”

          This matters, obviously, because there are many days when every team in the majors is playing someone. If the NL or AL have an odd number of teams, it forces either one team to have off or year-round inter-league.

  23. chris says:

    So we could see a situation where the Yankees have 97 winns and are going to wrap up the division and Boston and Tampa both try to tank the last 2 or 3 games so they get the final spot and can set up their rotation? Its going to turn into the NFL week 16, where teams who have byes don’t play anyone and playoff seeding will dictate who you start and play. This whole idea is stupid.

  24. Hughesus Christo says:

    Aren’t people repeating the same objections they brought up in 1994? Yes… yes they are.

    You know a big part of why the NFL and NBA are “more popular” with young people? Because in today’s media environment you need to engage audiences or die. The NFL, correct or not, has sold everyone on the idea that every team can win at any time. The NBA has over half its teams in the playoffs. More teams with a chance means more fans watching means more money.

    • The NBA is not more popular than baseball, at least ratings wise not sure where you got that from.

      And football is not more popular because of the idea that “any team can win at any time”. It’s because it’s perfectly structured for sports betting. Hell, the sport has rules (like early injury reports) just because so many people bet on the game. Add fantasy football on top of that, and the reason the NFL is so popular is largely because of gambling.

    • chris says:

      I agree with that but there is a difference between baseball and the other sports where more teams have a chance…a cap. Even the Lions can win once and a while because in theory the field is level. The big market teams can spend and spend and not buy playoff spots but can absorb bad contracts easier ie Igawa, Pavano, Wright, Brown etc and still get the job done. Look how Wells set Toronto back. He sank them at a time where they could have challenged for a wild card. Why would you as a fan of the Pirates even buy a ticket? Baseball dosen’t need a cap but max contracts. Then the Yanks could have max contracts all over the place and still do well and the smaller teams could try to match. I still think a cap would kill small market teams because then New York, Boston and LA become even more attractive. Where are you going to get a huge endorsement deal in Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh or Arizona. These small market teams better know what they are getitng into…

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      Since when is the NBA more popular than MLB? It’s pretty hard to even find a sports fan who likes the NBA more than baseball. You’re more likely to run into someone who talks trash about the NBA and how boring it is than someone who is a huge fan of it.

      Football is in another world and I’m not sure that it’s even realistic for baseball to attempt to compete with it at this point. It is what it is. Football is super exciting and includes a ton of hitting and action. People who aren’t fans of any other sport often like the NFL. But, it shouldn’t take away from how great baseball is.

      The NHL, NBA, and NFL also have a different levels of parity that call for more playoff teams. In the Western Conference of the NHL last year, playoff seeds 3 through 7 were separated by 3 points. In the AFC right now, there are 4 teams still in play for the #1 seed. It makes sense to have more playoff teams because many teams are so close in talent. In MLB the top teams seem to distance themselves by the time the seasons ends.

    • Hughesus Christo says:

      Not only did I write more popular in quotation marks, but I also spoke specifically about a specific demographic that the NBA is more popular with. Yet that’s what response has focused on.

      Also: http://www.sportsmediawatch.ne.....s-mlb.html

      Check out the M18-34 numbers at the bottom of the entry.

      • Ratings for the finals is not indicative of overall popularity, especially when it’s a national marquis match-up involving the Lakers. How about some revenues?

        • Hughesus Christo says:

          Yankees-Phillies isn’t a national marquis matchup?

          • Clay Bellinger says:

            It sure is and it got great ratings.

            The NBA Finals had better ratings than the World Series once ever – 1998 when Jordan and the Bulls were in it for the last time.

            Anyway you cut it, the NBA is not more popular than baseball and it’s foolish to suggest that it is.

            • Hughesus Christo says:

              “Check out the M18-34 numbers at the bottom of the entry.”

              You know a big part of why the NFL and NBA are “more popular” with young people?

  25. With another wild card team, the chances of the Yankees making the playoffs go from “likely” to “a near certainty”. For the casual fan, where’s the incentive to watch the regular season when the Yankees are all but guaranteed of making the playoffs?

    • Hughesus Christo says:

      The Yankees have been all but guaranteed to make the playoffs for 15 years. I don’t think that’s a great example.

      • No, it was just very likely. Injuries and bad luck still left the possibility of 2008 happening. Now, they can play like utter shit (for their payroll) and still get a wild card spot.

    • MattG says:

      The wildcard would be a massive hindrance to a title. You’re arguing both sides of the fence.

      Don’t argue this cheapens the regular season without acknowledging how cheapened the 2010 AL regular season was. It can’t get more cheapened than that.

      • How am I arguing both sides of the fence when it’s clear that I think adding another wild card team is a bad idea?

        Don’t argue this cheapens the regular season without acknowledging how cheapened the 2010 AL regular season was. It can’t get more cheapened than that.

        How was the 2010 season cheapened? Was this the first year you’ve ever watched baseball? It happens every. single. year. No one’s cared before. This is about making money, not fixing the actual problem.

        Problem: There’s not enough of a penalty for being the wild card

        How is adding another wild card a solution for that? Instead of finding a way to further penalize a team for not winning the division, this just rewards an even inferior team with an undeserved playoff spot. Imagine this happened in 2001, I’d like to hear how the 85-77 Twins being on the same ground with the 102-60 A’s isn’t absolutely fucking ridiculous.

        • MattG says:

          Well, this conversation is long over already, but I’ve already explained how the season was cheapened, and I find statements like “Was this the first year you’ve ever watched baseball?” pretty inflammatory.

          One last time for the comprehension impaired: When a fifth playoff team is added, and wildcard teams are force to play an extra round, all wildcards are severely disadvantaged. Ergo, division winners are rewarded. Ergo, the regular season is more relevant.

  26. vinny-b says:

    the regular season needs to be cut down 20 games. For the good of the sport, is what needs to happen.

    of course it won’t happen. Big money is why we went to war in Vietnam. Why we have no playoff system in college football. And why the regular baseball season will not be shortened

  27. JerseyDutch says:

    How about we get rid of the current wildcard, go back to two divisions per league, and lose the LDS?

    Score!

  28. chris says:

    The season will never be reduced and double headers will not happen, the union won’t agree to it.

    • Fair Weather Freddy says:

      You mean the owners wouldn’t agree to it. Traditional doubleheaders would mean getting 2 games for the price of 1. No way the OWNERS would go back to that. I sure do miss the days of the Sunday 1PM and the Friday night twi-night doubleheaders though.

  29. AJ M. says:

    One of the biggest trends discussed at length on this site during this year’s playoffs were the long layoffs between playoff rounds. Adding an extra wild card round – and giving the number one seeds a bye – will continue to be a problem. A wild card team who has played three extra games will hold an advantage over a cold top seed, if only for a game or two. But in a five game series, that could determine everything. It’s not like football or basketball, where players have adjusted to bye weeks and long stretches of games off. Baseball players depend on timing and feel, and denying the top teams the opportunity to be at their peak in the poststeason.

    The baseball races are pretty exciting as is, and the playoffs provide something missing in every other sport – exclusivity. I understand the chagrin of Red Sox fans who miss the playoffs in a stacked division, but that’s what makes it so exciting. Teams battle to gain one of four spots. It allows the best to rise to the top and the others to wither under the pressure. Think about it – would the NL West race have been any good if not for the last month of the season? I wouldn’t have paid attention. By adding two teams, Selig immediately affects that drama.

    But like many commenters have said already – an increase in playoff teams = more revenue = happy owners and happy players.

    • Mikeman says:

      How about this idea? Let the 1 & 4 seeds, and 2 & 3 seeds, play a best of 5 and then a best of 7 between the winners of that first round and then end with a best 2 out of 3 against the lowest seed WC team? That would penalize the lowest seed by making them wait a while to play, then they have to play a very hot team to advance. It also gives the winner of the first two rounds a chance to keep playing right up until the WS without a break. This benefits the better team by maintaining their timing and penalizes the weaker team, as it should be.
      This is a really crazy thought and I fully expect to get hammered for putting it in here but this is all about exploring ideas.

  30. TJ says:

    Baseballs 162 game schedule is long enough to get a look at who has a chance to win. Why add teams who after 162 are not the cream of the crop that year? If you want to give an incentive to win the division put all 5 games of the LDS in the division winners park, with 1 day of (between games 3 and 4) and reduce the days off between the 7 game series from 1/2 OFF 3/4/5 OFF 6/7…

  31. The Three Amigos says:

    I think the main problem is that the two wildcards play each other and not the two teams with the lowest win totals. Yankees, Sox and Rays could have 101, 100 and 99 wins respectively while the two other division winners have 90 and 89. How is that fair?

  32. Klemy says:

    Hate this idea. Would’ve been less opposed to a 1 game fight for the spot, but even that I’m not a fan of. This is just awful to me. Things are too slow the way it is and no one needs the lay off while waiting on this round.

  33. TopChuckie says:

    What really pisses me off is my biggest problem with the current postseason is the crap shoot, 5-game ALDS. So instead of lengthening the postseason to allow a 7-game ALDS they lengthen it to add an even shorter, bigger crap shoot, 3-game series.

  34. Poopy Pants says:

    Wouldn’t it make the regular season more important, not less? You wouldn’t have teams idling towards a wild card spot for the last month of the season (2010 Yankees), since the wild card is now pretty much a kiss of death.

  35. mclusky says:

    Passan’s argument is built on a faulty premise. He presumes that the Red Sox, in this equation, are “comfortable” in their lead for the second wild card slot. I assume he’s using the 2010 season as the blueprint for his hypothetical (wherein the Rays and Yanks finished with 96 and 95 wins, respectively, and the BoSox finished with 89 wins), but he ignores here that the White Sox finished with 88 wins. With this proposed alignment, both the Red Sox and White Sox would likely be “emptying the tank” to secure that WC spot, which would actually lead to a dogfight well into September — with all four of those teams playing hard to secure a playoff spot and/or a divisional title. Isn’t this an improvement on the current scenario, wherein the Rays and Yanks cruised lazily into October?

    • Hughesus Christo says:

      Fallacy of the predetermined outcome and all that, but a quick look at recent results indicates that this would result in a bigger pennant race and spots and/or legit chances for teams like San Diego (twice), Toronto, Cleveland etc.

      • mclusky says:

        I’m primarily taking issue with Passan’s strawman scenario in which the third place team is the one sitting pretty while the first and second place teams are going to the wire. Not only would Boston be playing hard against Chicago for that final wild card slot, they’d also have Toronto breathing down their necks. It’s not as if they could Cadillac into October, aligning their rotation and resting their stars. They’d have to be gunning it, along with everyone else.

  36. RobC says:

    I like the two division idea.
    Two division winners and two wild card teams with 7 game sereis.
    Add double headers even 1 a month gives you 6 more days.

    Never happen
    Selig seems to be on a mission to piss off traditional baseball fans.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      Selig seems to be on a mission to piss off traditional baseball fans destroy baseball.

      I wish this dope would just leave baseball alone for crying out loud. Most fans have come to embrace the Wild Card system AS IS! Why does this jerk feel the need to reinvent baseball?

      My argument would be that an extra wild card team in the interest of more money and better ratings is pointless. Having a few teams battle for the ONE wild card slot (or division slots as was the case in the NL West this year) almost creates an entire month of playoffs in September. If that’s not enough to interest fans, there’s no way a best-of-three between two runners-up will generate any further interest.

      Really…ask yourselves this question: How much of a ratings draw do you think San Diego/Atlanta battling it out would have been? Sure, you would’ve had a Yankees/Red Sox this year, but that’s not going to happen every year. I would bet more often than not, you’re going to get a pretty lackluster match-up. Not to mention that some teams will be rewarded for late season collapses, such as the 2008 Mets and this year’s Padres who deserved every bit to hit the golf courses early. (By the way, I didn’t forget about the 2007 Mets. Under these rules, the Mets would have lost out to both the Rockies and Padres who would have faced off in a best of three instead of one-game playoff.)

  37. chemicaltank says:

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