We have been begging Major League Baseball to add a second Wild Card team for a long time. And now our wishes have come true. Yesterday, Bud Selig announced that the playoffs will expand to ten teams in 2012.

Under the new rules, each league will have the three division winners and two Wild Card teams. The two Wild Cards will meet, with the winner moving on to face one of the division winners in the next round. The only question that remains is whether the opening round will be a one-game playoff or a best-of-three format.

The beauty of this format is that it places the emphasis back on winning the division. Under the current system, there is little incentive for winning the division if the team is already guaranteed to be at least the Wild Card. But under the new format, especially if it is a one-game playoff, there is too much risk in leaving your fate up to an even shorter series, where just about anything can happen.

Of course, the new system also protects the Red Sox and Yankees. Because god forbid there ever be a third good team in the East that keeps one of the big two out of the playoffs.

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17 Comments

  1. I saw this on ESPN and FOX Sports and just about ever other comment said "NO! IT WILL RUIN THE GAME!!! This is all about money/greed. Why don't you just let every team in?" I disagree, I think Selig is actually trying to improve the game.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think if they do best-of-3 there is a little bit of greed at play. But that's fine. I would only really be worried if 5-10 years from now, THAT evolved into a best-of-7.

      But a 1-game wild card is no different than the 1-game playoff that occasionally happens. And the current playoff schedule is already built to accommodate those.

      But yeah, I love the idea. Think about it. What is the most exciting game in baseball besides a game 7 in the playoffs? It is those rare one-game playoffs, winner-takes-all in game 163. If they do that we get 2 if those every year.

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  2. deadeye says:

    So let's decide a whole seasons worth of playing on one game? Really stupid and unfair. It is worse than a best of 5. That is why you have an inferior champion SF Giants last year. Better yet, get rid of the divisions and have the top 4 teams in each league make it and play only best of 7's. Oh you say it is not as exciting. Screw that, I want to see the best teams not the crappy ones who got on a hot streak or the one with 1 great pitcher(Cliff Lee anyone?).

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      But under the current system we are scrapping an entire season's worth of games and saying the Wild Card team earned just as much as the team that won the division. What reward did the Rays get for winning the division last year? One extra home game? This brings importance back to the divisional race.

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  3. MJ says:

    1-game playoff would make no sense to me, if you wanted to make this idea legitimate at least. 5 games would be fun but 3 is best bet. I think 2 wild card teams is a no brainer at this point.

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    • MJ says:

      And a 3 game series has plenty of excitement and tension in each game.

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        A 1- game playoff is certainly not perfect. But as Greg mentions, the other team's can't start the playoffs for 5-6 days. And MLB is already struggling to keep baseball out of November. So personally, I give 1-game the edge, but I can certainly see the other argument.

        Maybe they should just play a triple-header! A best-of-3 all played in 1 day.

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        • Andy says:

          I like 3 games, if only to differentiate the new format from the inevitable 1 game playoff(s) that will ensue. In many years, I could see the battle for the final wildcard being a 3-4 team race, with a higher probability of a two or even three way tie.

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        • MJ says:

          Ha yea i was thinking a day/night double header then a game the next night.

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    • Greg says:

      A longer series leaves the division winners sitting around too long. Try a 1-game playoff (very exciting as Cork mentioned above) and then the wild card either uses their best pitcher or takes the chance with another starter in hopes of saving their best for the longer series if they win. I realize you are taking a 162 game schedule and reducing it to one game but the wild card needs a harder path to the World Series. It's currently unfair that playing a 162 game schedule gives a division winner one extra home game in a series! After a few years they may decide a 3-game format is better, but start with a one-game playoff.

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      • Carey says:

        Quote: "I realize you are taking a 162 game schedule and reducing it to one game but the wild card needs a harder path to the World Series."

        Why is that Greg? Why should the Wild Card in, say, 2010 (Rays) have a harder path than the division winner (Rangers) when the "division winner" finishes several games behind the "wild card" in an obviously weaker division.

        This division thing is a total joke anyway. As if the fans of AL Central teams feel some kind of SEC-esque kinship/rivalry with one another. In fact, the only division championships worth celebrating (or that are actually celebrated by fans) are the AL and NL East and, perhaps, the NL West. And that's only because they grabbed existing rivalries and put them in the same division. Outside of that, nobody cares about division titles - including fans and players. It's a farce created for one purpose: Get more Yankee/Red Sox games and continue to facilitate the fraud that is interleague play.

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  4. nate says:

    I feel that playoff expansion is bad for baseball. One of the commentors touched on the unfairness of letting 1 game dictate a team's entire season. The same can be said for the playoff system as a whole. A 162 game schedule is an adequate sample to sort out the best teams in the league. Why do we need playoffs to add extra elements of chance to the equation?

    If you take money out of the equation it doesn't make sense to even have an LCS.

    If the current league went back to the old system used prior to 68 or 69, you could structure the AL as one giant 14 team league. Shorten the season to 156 games. Your team plays the other 13 teams 12 times each (6 home 6 away). Winner goes to the World Series. No interleague play. There is fairness to the competition in terms of schedule balance. The cream will eventually rise to the top, and you get a compelling World Series between two teams from leagues that never see one another.

    This clearly will never happen. I like it, but I'm probably alone on this one.

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  5. Carey says:

    Nate and deadeye nailed it. Typical stupid, shortsighted, and in the tank for the Red Sox/Yankees MLB. Why take the logical route (balanced schedule/ 4-best teams) when you can mentally mastrubate for a while and spit out a wad of goo like this? Oh well, at least it's not as exponentially stupid as the "floating divisions" scheme talked about last year.

    Quote: "The beauty of this format is that it places the emphasis back on winning the division."

    Seriously, Cork? How is this? The Angels/Rangers can still poach a marginal AL West and coast in as "Division Champs" with a record no better or even worse than the 3rd best team in the east. Winning the division has always been the priority if you aren't in the East (both Leagues, frankly) as you have no chance of winning the wild card.

    I love baseball, but I hate MLB. And I really hate the way they have turned their league into what amounts to a Harlem Globetrotters game. You've got the Yankees/Red Sox (Globetrotters) and various incarnations of the Washington Generals.

    I'm ready for a little labor strife in MLB again. But not so much between the owners and players, but owners and owners. Like to see, say, 26 against 4. Demand a split of TV revenues from the Yankees, etc. or demand appearance fees (1 mil a pop seem fair, given the Yankees TV revenues). They don't want to pay, then we won't play. We'll see how that works for YES' ad revenues.

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  6. Cork Gaines says:

    In reality, the only way you are going to even get close to making it fair for all the teams is to get rid of divisions and unbalanced schedules. All the AL teams play everybody else the same number of games and then take the top 4 teams to the playoffs. Maybe you can give the #1 seed a cookie by giving them 5 home games in each series instead of 4.

    But while that is fair for the teams, it is not fair to the fans, and it is not fair to the TV networks that pay a lot of money for the broadcasting rights. The fans don't want extra west coast road trips with games ending at 1am. Or in the case of west coast teams, extra east coast trips with games starting at 4 in the afternoon. Fewer fans watch those games. Which means lower ratings for the networks. Which means less money for MLB next time the contracts are negotiated.

    In the end, there is no system that doesn't screw SOMEBODY. If it is just the top Wild Card team, that might occasionally also be the 2nd best team in the league, I'm ok with that.

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  7. DRR says:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/04/22/dodgers.playoffs/index.html?eref=sihp

    Interesting that, at the botton, the teams that would benefit from the extra WC would be Yanks, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays. Hm... who is missing there?

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