The Major League Baseball logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I will say this as simply as possible, adding a second wild card spot is the best thing Major League Baseball has done in a long time. When first announced, I believed this was a good idea and so far it proves to be. We have playoff baseball in late August and September. The star players now need to show up. The average players now have an opportunity to rise to the next level. What more could fans want?
The American League East
The AL East is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. Typically this battle involves New York and Boston. This season however, the pesky Orioles under Buck Showalter are proving payroll means nothing. The Orioles don’t seem to care much about run differential either. Baltimore is forcing New York to stay aggressive. Thank you Major League Baseball.
The Oakland Athletics
Sitting only two games behind the Rangers in the AL West and in the lead for the Wild Card is impressive, at least to me. Oakland will be a tough team regardless how they get into the playoffs. With seven games remaining between Texas and Oakland, anything can happen. Thank you Major League Baseball.
The National League
Barring any highly improbable, complete apocalyptic collapses, (I’m not even sure if mathematically they could happen), the division leaders in the National League need not worry about their playoff chances. The Wild Card race is what fans need to watch. Going into Sunday’s games, the Braves, Dodgers, and Cardinals are tied for two wild card slots. My apologies to all the Pittsburgh Pirate fans, not this season.This is baseball at its best. Thank you Major League Baseball.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!
Image via Wikipedia
Major League Baseball is going to expand the playoffs to include a total of 10 teams. This is a good thing. Baseball needs the drama and excitement of the one-and-done game. The last few seasons we’ve seen this. The owners want it, the players want it, and I would suspect a number of fans want this. Not to mention, this is good for business. Yes, this will eliminate the drama of having a single game to determine who’s in the playoffs and who’s out. But, that drama isn’t guaranteed within the current structure. Expansion to an additional Wild Card round guarantees the excitement.
Play-off expansion gives smaller market teams an additional opportunity. The business of baseball benefits from this. Not to mention, this gives players something to actually play for. Rather than write their season off in mid-August, there is some added motivation. Players play, however we tend to hear rumblings of how some teams and players slack off when their playoff hopes appear to be slim. That second wild card slot will improve competition, especially towards the end of the season. I am not suggesting this is going to be the perfect playoff structure. There is an inherent lack of fairness if an entire 162 game season hinges on one game. However, professional sports need to evolve. The last change in 1994 worked, I think this will too.
Ten teams in the playoffs is enough. The NHL, NBA, and NFL all have similar ratios. The addition of a wild-card slot in baseball indicates another exciting possibility for baseball fans: the Commissioner and the owners are willing to try old and new ideas (insert regular season replay here.) They are willing to embrace some level of change. The players strike of 1994 did significant damage to the sport. Only the enhanced home run chase brought fans back to the game. Now that Major League Baseball’s fan base is watching again, the sport needs to keep current fans interested, and new ones tuning in. The next few seasons of baseball will at least be interesting, if not truly exciting for fans.
Image by pinelife via Flickr
The Detroit Lions are 3-0 for the first time in 31 years; The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots; and the Bears lost to Green Bay…again. Now that I summarized Week 3 in the NFL, let’s move on to the truly entertaining sport, Major League Baseball. The Division’s are clinched, and once again the Yankees have home field advantage. However, if you haven’t noticed, there are a couple of Wild Card races going on where the outcomes are anything but certain.
The Tampa Bay Rays are playing their hearts out and currently sit .5 games behind the imploding Boston Red Sox. There are two stories here. First, the Rays aren’t giving up. They will play like it’s the World Series this week against the Yanks. Aside from hoping for Baltimore sweeping the Bo-Sox, the Rays are aiming for the potential of a sudden-death playoff game at Tropicana Field. If you are a fan of baseball games that actually mean something….stay tuned.
The second story, and I will apologize to Red Sox Nation now, is the collapse of the Opening Day favorites who were predicted to win the American League. The baseball experts and Red Sox players can’t explain the inability for Boston to win games. We can sit and blame individual players. We can sit and blame Terry Francona and his management style. I will simply state this is baseball. There are slumps. There are individual slumps, and then there are team slumps. Unfortunately, the Red Sox chose to slump at the wrong time.
Let’s jump to the National League Wild Card. Atlanta seemingly had the Wild Card wrapped up. Except the Nationals decided to win the final series between the two teams. Now with St. Louis only behind by one game, Atlanta gets a three game set against the Phillies. The Cardinals play Houston. Anything can happen.
The regular season ends September 28th. September 29th the Cardinals are in as the National League Wild Card. As for the Red Sox, rest easy Sox fans, they’ll be in as well.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!