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Major League Baseball has announced they will add a second Wild Card team to each league starting next season. We’ve known this was coming for a while, but the implications for the Rays could be huge.

Now it is possible that three teams from the same division can make the playoffs. The downside is that if a team does not win their division, they will likely be forced to play a winner-take-all one-game playoff against the other Wild Card team.


  • Joe Smith writes about how the expanded playoff system could help the Rays. []
  • Jim Crane was approved as manager of the Houston Astros. But to complete the sale, Crane had to agree to move the Astros to the American League. [BI Sports]
  • Richard Justice says Andrew Friedman is still believed to be “under consideration” for the Astros GM position. [Houston Chronicle]




  1. Beth says:

    Can someone explain to me why the Astros changed leagues? ANd how will they deal with the odd number of teams in each league? Will there be eternal interleague play, or will someone always have a “bye”?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      MLB and the players are currently negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players were pushing for two leagues of even size, thinking 15 teams in each league and the same number of teams in all divisions would be more fair (it is).

      Of course, the problem is, nobody wants to switch leagues. Nobody in the NL wanted to go to the AL, in part because of tradition and rivalries. But also because, AL teams have to pay money for a designated hitter. NL teams only have to pay for an extra guy on the bench.

      But with Houston, they had a situation where they could force them to move, so Jim Crane said “OK.”

      And with realignment will come more interleague games. There will always be at least one interleague game happening.

  2. Andrew says:

    What was the point of moving the Brewers to the NL years back only to have another team switch to the AL?

    • carey says:

      Bingo!!! Brewers are a natural fit in AL Central. More baseball insanity.

      1. Year round interleague. Or, curtail the shit out of interleague and BALANCE THE F-ING SCHEDULE!
      2. Extra wild card (to improve competitive balance). Or, do away with divisions (or go back to two) and BALANCE THE F-ING SCHEDULE. As a Rays fan, all I ask is that everything be fair and that teams can’t poach a weak division while we run the gauntlet in the AL East. Balanced schedule, top 4 go to playoffs. Easy. Fair. Which is why MLB will never even consider it.

      Perfect world: Complete reorgainization. Braves, Marlins, Rays and Astros in one division. Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox in a division. If we’re talking fairness, that would be priceless making all those dirtbags (no offense Evan) have to plan in the same division.

      • Beth says:

        That may be fair, but without all those Yankees and Red Sox fans coming to Tropicana Field for 18 games a year we’d go broke.

  3. carey says:

    Maybe Beth. But I’m convinced that part of our problems (and any other non major-market team) is the base unfairness of the MLB (see: Modified Harlem Globetrotters) business model.

    I just think it’s hard for fans to completely buy into something when they know that they’re basically on the clock. Cincinnatti’s fan base was like the Steelers (nationwide and big) when I was younger (80s-early-90s) and yet they aren’t much better than us in attendance. Why? Because they know there is no chance of another Big Red Machine and they know its just a matter of time before the stars are plucked away by the predatory spending of the Yankees and co.

    Obviously, there are many factors, but this is one I think plays a role and few if anyone talks about.

    Tell me. Has this not been in the back of your mind since ’08?

    • Matt says:

      This the absolutely the reason why I’m not ‘all in’ on the Rays or baseball in general.

      I KNOW that the Rays are basically a team that has the nearly impossible task of keeping up with the other big teams in the league without their payroll advantages.

      • pete says:

        If you’re not all in as a Rays fan at this point then i just don’t know what to tell you. Obviously the system here works. All the media wants to talk about is payroll and how the Yankees and Red Sox are going to run away with the AL Beast but somehow when the combined payroll of our 3 playoff runs in 4 years has been less than the Yankees 2011 payroll then this team has found an edge and until teams catch up with what we are doing then i believe we will be a playoff team in most years.

        • Joe says:

          Pete, does it really work? I am serious. It’s about getting to last Series, the World Series. I don’t want to be a killjoy on what the Rays accomplished at the end, but it took the Red Sox COOPERATING to make that finish possible. And how did the Rays “reward” the faitful? By bowing out unceremoniously in worse fashion than they did the second year in a row.

          Face it, the process the Rays has “works”. By “working”, they have a formula that involves manipulating the CBA to maximum advantage by maximizing their pre arbitration pitching talent and producing it. Give them credit. They preach defense, which is obviously a cheap way, but an efficient and effective way to play the game. It’s plug and chug, and by doing that, I am going to assume you can win no less than 80-85 games a year. In warfare, this would be kin to “guerilla tactics” :)

          My problem, once again, is the APPROACH of ownership. They would rather be PROCESS-ORIENTED than RESULTS-ORIENTED. The process works, the results, IF we are talking about “meaningful September games” or a FREAKING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP are two different things! I asked this before, wouldn’t Prince Fielder look good in the middle of the Rays order or forbid Albert Pujols? It is by FAR the biggest glaring need, but oh, that’s right, “Tampa Bay fans don’t show up”, or “we don’t have the revenues to support it”…..And this is the crux I bring up every time.

          So, Pete, I ask you and everyone, are you satisfied in playing meaningful September games or be in a position to win the World Series?! The kid in me thought they had a shot to win it, but the realist came out in the end when they simply couldn’t sustain rallies against the SAME team in CONSECUTIVE years.

          • pete says:

            Joe , I see your side for sure. I can’t blame ownership for not going after a guy like Prince but i don’t believe it’s because they wouldn’t love to do that. Simply put , until we get a new ballpark in a better location then we can’t spend that kind of money. If the fans don’t want to come out for a team thats been to the playoffs 3 of 4 years and the world series once in that span , then i don’t care if we had a 130 million dollar infield … the fans aren’t going to ever come out for as long as we call Tropicana Field the home of the Rays.

          • Joe says:

            Here is the problem Pete, how do they know they wouldn’t want Prince Fielder even if they could afford it?! This is a bizarre question. They do NOT have a 1B in the system right now, and this is a GLARING need. Why go cheap here?!

            Pardon the pun Pete, but don’t get me started! :) I could argue for hours the merits of ownership and what they can afford on the 25 man at the Trop and their strategy in developing their roster on a year in and year out basis. I respect the HECK out of your opinion and I value it. But the Rays do not operate with even a half of a deck. And my point is they DELIBERATELY have shortened their deck. I admittedly have made this point known in posts.

            I am a Rays fan but more than that, I am a Tampa Bay fan. Major League Baseball, and its probably true in the other big three but ever so obvious here, is about chasing REVENUE. But problem is, what promises we have? The new CBA is rumored to have what I call a “chicken clause” which would prevent an owner like Stu from going super low on payroll or he would be taxed a percentage on whatever that low number is. It may be too low at $41 as it was as if that number is $50, he would have to come up by 9. And I ask why are they so quick to poopoo the Forbes’ numbers every April and now, they have gotten Forbes to EDITORIALIZE the Rays’ need for a new park?!

            There is more than meets the eye here, all I am saying.

          • Tom says:

            “So Pete, I ask you and everyone, are you satisfied in playing meaningful September games or be in a position to win the World Series”

            This is silly Joe you cannot play in the World Series unless you play meaningful September Games (I guess you can argue the Rays did not play meaningful September games in 2008 and 2010 when they clinched the playoffs in Mid-September but you know what I mean). The team has made the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years meaning they were in a position to win the World Series. Once you make the playoffs the best team does not always win, look at the Phillies.

          • Joe says:

            Have the Rays really gone for it? That is what I am trying to say. 2009 is an example of that. Sure you can put yourself in the position but did the fans “feel it” until the end? We also had a freaking columnist in John Romano telling everyone to give up and keep your money because these kinds of chases never happen.

            No doubt, the Rays have a model that will put them in position with starting pitching and defense that will keep them competitive. It’s the elite portion that is the more difficult question. And too, you got a bizarre media situation here that seems to have ulterior motives as well.

        • Matt says:

          (Sorry, a bit late here, hopefully this gets seen.)

          “Obviously the system works here.”

          If “works” refers to being in constant contention for an AL East title, then, yes, it works.

          But that’s not what I want and that’s not what most fans want. What we want is to be able to fairly compete with every team in the league. We want to be able to win the ‘scout well, draft well, keep players here as long as possible’ game as well as the ‘pay for good players when necessary game’.

          The fact of the matter is that if the Rays had their current collection of talent and were able to spend for some free agents as well, we very might as well be talking about a team that has multiple World Series titles.

          As it is, it “working” means we have to scratch and claw for every single win, only to usually lose in the postseason because we don’t have the money to keep pace with the 100M+ rosters we will face in the postseason almost every single year.

          I can’t go ‘all in’ in a game where the deck is stacked against us (and half of the other teams in the MLB) because of financial issues. The lack of fairness inherent in the current state of the sport makes it too unjust for me to completely enjoy it.

          • pete says:

            Look how well spending an assload of money has done for the Red Sox. Seriously the Cubs haven’t won jack shit in 100 years and still sell out every game. Spending money promises nothing in the end. Winning the AL East 2 of 4 years is just nasty. This team sucked ass for 10 years and us season ticket holders paid to watch a crappy team take the field day in and out. Now we win and people bitch that we don’t spend money. 1 freaking team wins the whole thing every year and if you don’t get into the dance then you don’t have a chance. Be a fan or don’t. Any true fan of this franchise is damn happy about the current situation and for the state of the Rays since 2008. If you’re not then i’m sorry but you don’t understand baseball in the least.

          • Joe says:

            How many World Series have the Red Sox won compared to the Rays?!

            The problem is the system. The Rays have maxed it out to their maximum advantage. They don’t want to open their books, and that is the problem. They don’t want you to think they could churn out the prospects and also make a play for a Pujols or a Fielder. And that, THAT precisely is why you got a major problem in this industry.

            Spending money gets you a better seat at the table. Yes, it guarantees nothing, but it does give you a say in the process. New York just won the World Series in 09 and unfortunately, MLB has turned into a REVENUE CHASE!

            People like you Pete, I do understand. You are right, but I contend that I am right and people like Matt are correct too. But don’t go out there and say I don’t understand, I do. I don’t agree with you. This seems to be the battle of “Stu Sternberg’s will” vs. the rest of the fans who don’t buy what they are seeing.

  4. Joe says:

    The problems is the Rays have to face the Sox and Yankees and their media monoliths. I asked it before and I will say it again. I think that the system that they subsidize the Rays partially and the Rays taking a spot could becoming a craw in their side. Hence, we see more articles about club support nationally and the threats being started by our own media and suggestions by our ownership group.

    Stu I don’t think wants to give up the dates with the Sox and Yankees, but I fear the bad stories and the negatives stories will be ratched up to a higher level. I think it nags on the players because media bozos like Topkin, Shelton and Romano LOCALLY remind them and Maddon talks about it. Perhaps a form of realignment, i.e. a simply league switch of Washington and Tampa Bay would be best in the long run? Washington gets 18 games with Baltimore a year, 45 miles away and the Rays get Miami and Atlanta. Its savings in travel and money. Just saying.

    There are more layers to this, but I am sensing resentment. And of course, the answer to Boston is BUILD YOUR TEAM MORE THOROUGHLY. But I believe the subsidy and the failure (perhaps deliberately) of Stu to put more fans in the seats is a perception problem.

  5. CharlieRay says:

    Dolman Law Group adds in the story line sec are a bunch of BS

  6. pete says:

    Joe . How many years was it in between Red Sox World Championships? 87 years and then 2 in 4 years. Guys i understand your side. I’m not a fan of our ownership group but the baseball operations side is far and away the best in the game today. The Yankees play with a 200 million dollar payroll and the Sox are at 150 million plus… It’s ruined the game. We have 5 or 6 large market teams who throw millions of dollars at all the top free agents and the other 25 teams fight for the scraps and right now the rays do a great job beating that ass with a 50 million dollar payroll and to me that’s way more satisfying than buying high priced free agents that bomb more often than not. The AL East is the best division in SPORTS and winning it is harder than winning the World Series… When is the last time the best team in baseball won the World Series? How do you think Phillies fans feel? If we want a 100 million dollar plus payroll then 12,000 more people a night need to start showing up at the Trop. End of Story. We win and nobody comes … If i owned the team i wouldn’t give fielder 8 years 225 million either.

    • Joe says:

      We aren’t going to agree, and this is the freaking problem. The Rays are FRUGAL. Not cheap, but FRUGAL. A difference. They won’t pay the market, they let the market come to them. One calls that smart, the other savvy, the other opportunistic and yet another calls them lucky and another fortunate.

      Want to know why no one comes?! Look at the excitement level!!!! You can BARELY feel a PULSE with this team. It’s even covered that way. You would think the Rays are a shuffleboard team the way they are covered and treated and not an heirloom! The Green Bay Packers 19 years ago signed Reggie White and was the pulse of that team in the mid 90′s making 2 Super Bowl runs and one world championship. MLB’s “Hot Stove” is restricted to spenders and big traders, and meanwhile, both locally and nationally, the Rays are treated like jack crap by everyone and taken a dump on. And that irks me.

      We win and more people take a dump on us. Am I saying spend for spending’s sake?! Of course not, but don’t buy the BS story that Stu couldn’t open his wallet and shock you and pay the price for Fielder. Again, the way the team is covered, its treated and when you get IDIOTIC rants from the owner taking a dump on the fans and the media accepting it, well, of course its the end of the story.

      The baseball operations IS in simpatico with the ownership group. They would rather win a world championship on a $30 million 25 man roster and tell the world to piss off, but that simply isn’t going to happen. “Oh, its not how much you spend but how you spend it”….I have heard this. What has Stu done to REALLY take grasp and charge of the market and the fans and make people like me silent?! Prove to me that MLB isn’t broken and a $7 BILLION and growing industry! You don’t want to spend to SPITE the fans?! We could argue this all night long.

      • pete says:

        Joe i’m with you on more things than you think. The added wild card next year is going to help and i do agree that Stu could open his wallet but chooses not to. Once again , we do agree here more than it seems. My question is this … Do we gain attendance by signing a Jose Reyes or a Price Fielder but in the end still win 91-96 games a year? I don’t believe we do.

        • Joe says:

          I would rather play Boston or New York (or probably another large revenue COUGH COUGH) team in a one game winner take all wild card game than in a best of series. It’s easier. But then you go on and play the 3 out of 5 and then two 4 out of 7s to win the whole kit and kaboodle.

          Here is my thing. Say if Prince Fielder IS the right baseball ops move according to baseball ops?! And it just so happens he costs that much money. Would Stu dishone Andrew? They can’t afford to think that way or come to that conclusion, can they?! Their only “stretch” signing was Rafael Soriano, who came into the Rays’ laps from Atlanta when Soriano ACCEPTED the arbitration offer and basically the Rays dealt off of Atlanta’s fears in that acquisition. The Rays could be the smartest people in the room (and they will remind you of that, which is another story), and it won’t be enough.

          MLB would HEMORRHAGE if Stu spent big bucks and bucked the system and won. It would DESTROY the myth of market size. I hear this crap for the past 15 years about market size and market this and market that and that crap isn’t going to fly with me.

          How many times, even in the year AFTER the Rays won the Series, has this team had a “buzz factor”? Are they scared to create one and STEAL the market completely on the sports landscape? The Lightning create more “buzz factor” with Ryan Malone and doing what they do than what the Rays do. Is that a media fault? Is that the team’s fault? I would like to see that ask, because “buzz factor” is cheap, its a “feeling” and if they showed that the buzz was worthy, then what do they do?!

    • Joe says:

      Pete, I agree that winning the AL East is harder than the Series itself. And that is freaking messed up. And it hurts how the Rays are able to constitute and complement their roster. Again, your question, very thoughtful, is not posed and thought enough in other theatres.

      And it hurts, because isn’t it the goal to win it all? Why is the threshold to win one division out of six so far out of whack then the other five? Competitive balance has not been addressed and still not addressed nor will it be addressed. It’s easy to talk smack as a Rays fan and take solace in what the Rays accomplish. And in the END where does it leave the Rays?! What I want Pete, is the questions the FREAKING QUESTIONS to be asked of Stu Sternberg and not cookie cutter questions. Let’s just ignore the elephant in the room, ok?! :)

  7. Matt says:

    Pete, your argument seems to be best put as “spending money doesn’t guarantee anything.”

    And, of course, it doesn’t. But it does give you more opportunities to succeed, ESPECIALLY when you are wise about when to spend it and don’t just spend it to spend it, like I believe the Rays would be if given the chance.

    For example, in an NFL-like system each team is given roughly the same amount to spend and (roughly) they all do. So if a free agent like Pujols came on the market in the NFL, most teams would be able to vie for his services.

    In an NFL-like system, the Rays could pay for Pujols and have a starter at 1B for the next 8 years who is almost guaranteed to get 30/100 every single year.

    The argument of “Well, look how well it worked for the Red Sox” is a fallacy: the Red Sox and the Yankees are the Redskins (of a couple years ago) of the MLB, the only difference is that baseball is much more of an individual sport, so it works better for them.

    If the Rays had 100M to spend each year, they could: (1) pick up one mid-to-major free agent each year, filling a need with a quality player (e.g., SS, C, closer) and (2) sign their young players to long-term deals more regularly.

    They would still probably let players go when their contract outpaced their performance (e.g. Crawford), but would have the option of keeping good players here more often (like, say, Benoit).

    However, the way the system is set up now the Rays are essentially a very good and successful major league farm system. One in which young players like to play for because (1) they know they’ll have a good chance of winning in and (2) will set them up to get their big contract in 5 years FROM ANOTHER TEAM.

    I still follow the Rays. I still root for them. I just won’t ever hang on each and every game (like I do with football) because of the inequality/unfairness built into the MLB. It is what it is though.

    • pete says:

      See … Now I understand your argument. You don’t like the MLB system and are trying to parallel the sport to Football. Unfortunately we don’t have a salary cap in baseball and never will. I’m the complete opposite as you , I follow baseball game in and game out and just keep my eye on the NFL. To each his own.

      • Matt says:

        Yep, I agree. Ultimately how much you like the sport itself is going to determine your interest level. It’s just this is one thing that is off-putting for many potential MLB fans.

        Will it ever change? Probably not. Much like college football’s BCS, it’s probably just something we’ll have to live with.

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