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Second wild card team?


CSB Jack

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In yesterday's print edition of the Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell wrote a piece in support of the plan to institute a second wild card and play-in game for each league. That edition went to press before the games in Atlanta, Baltimore, and St. Petersburg were completed, so there was still the possibility of one or both leagues having that as a de facto reality this year. One of the points he made was that this play-in game would bring added excitement, and unpredictability, to the postseason.

As it turned out, neither league had to have a one game playoff before the regular playoffs. And it would be difficult to argue that it would have been better for the game if going into the last week all four of Boston, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and St. Louis knew they were going to make the one game playoff. It would also be difficult to support the notion that either Boston or Atlanta “deserved” to be in the playoffs given how they played down the stretch.

Mark Kreidler writes a strongly dissenting piece against the idea of the second wild card. http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/kreidler-110929/baseball-awful-proposal-add-second-wild-card-team-postseason I concur with this position. I have no problem with multiple wild card teams in football. But with baseball’s 162 game season, there is no need to add a second wild card team for a one-game play-in in an effort to stir up added interest or manufactured drama.

I recognize that back in 1993 a similar argument was made when the Braves and Giants battled to the end of the season with a 103-win Giants team being left out of the playoffs. Had there been two wild card teams it would not have been a big deal because both teams would have been in the playoffs. The next year MLB went to three divisions and added a wild card team to each league. (Ignore for the moment the fact that they also went on strike and canceled the postseason for a year.) In this case, it has worked out well, yielding three division champions and a single wild card team, for a total of four teams in the playoffs in each league.

One point that Boswell made that has some merit is that by having a play-in game the wild card teams would not be able to stack their rotations going into the playoffs. This would give the edge to the division winners, who should have some benefit from having won their divisions in the first place. I have no problem with this. However, as this year turned out, all six division winners had plenty of opportunity to manage their rosters and set up their rotations as it was. The four teams fighting for the wild card had no such luxury.

On balance, I don’t think the second wild card team is a good idea. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that either the Yankees or Red Sox missed the playoffs two of the past three years (three of four now) we wouldn’t even be talking about this. Maybe the possibility of more teams battling for the second wild card is something I am overlooking because that was not a reality in either league this year (though the Angels were in contention until the last week). But at the least I am unconvinced of the value of a one-game wild card playoff to get to the “real” playoffs.

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In yesterday's print edition of the Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell wrote a piece in support of the plan to institute a second wild card and play-in game for each league. That edition went to press before the games in Atlanta, Baltimore, and St. Petersburg were completed, so there was still the possibility of one or both leagues having that as a de facto reality this year. One of the points he made was that this play-in game would bring added excitement, and unpredictability, to the postseason.

As it turned out, neither league had to have a one game playoff before the regular playoffs. And it would be difficult to argue that it would have been better for the game if going into the last week all four of Boston, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and St. Louis knew they were going to make the one game playoff. It would also be difficult to support the notion that either Boston or Atlanta “deserved” to be in the playoffs given how they played down the stretch.

Mark Kreidler writes a strongly dissenting piece against the idea of the second wild card. http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/kreidler-110929/baseball-awful-proposal-add-second-wild-card-team-postseason I concur with this position. I have no problem with multiple wild card teams in football. But with baseball’s 162 game season, there is no need to add a second wild card team for a one-game play-in in an effort to stir up added interest or manufactured drama.

I recognize that back in 1993 a similar argument was made when the Braves and Giants battled to the end of the season with a 103-win Giants team being left out of the playoffs. Had there been two wild card teams it would not have been a big deal because both teams would have been in the playoffs. The next year MLB went to three divisions and added a wild card team to each league. (Ignore for the moment the fact that they also went on strike and canceled the postseason for a year.) In this case, it has worked out well, yielding three division champions and a single wild card team, for a total of four teams in the playoffs in each league.

One point that Boswell made that has some merit is that by having a play-in game the wild card teams would not be able to stack their rotations going into the playoffs. This would give the edge to the division winners, who should have some benefit from having won their divisions in the first place. I have no problem with this. However, as this year turned out, all six division winners had plenty of opportunity to manage their rosters and set up their rotations as it was. The four teams fighting for the wild card had no such luxury.

On balance, I don’t think the second wild card team is a good idea. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that either the Yankees or Red Sox missed the playoffs two of the past three years (three of four now) we wouldn’t even be talking about this. Maybe the possibility of more teams battling for the second wild card is something I am overlooking because that was not a reality in either league this year (though the Angels were in contention until the last week). But at the least I am unconvinced of the value of a one-game wild card playoff to get to the “real” playoffs.

I think any O's, Jays or Rays fan should be in favor of the 2nd Wild Card spot. I think, for the rest of baseball, it's largely irrelevant.

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I think any O's, Jays or Rays fan should be in favor of the 2nd Wild Card spot. I think, for the rest of baseball, it's largely irrelevant.

I think any O's, Jays or Rays fan who is also a baseball fan in general should make up their own opinion on the second wild card spot. Since I'm still not in favor of the first wild card, that should tell you what I think of the second.

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I have no problem with multiple wild card teams in football. But with baseball’s 162 game season, there is no need to add a second wild card team for a one-game play-in in an effort to stir up added interest or manufactured drama.
On balance, I don’t think the second wild card team is a good idea. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that either the Yankees or Red Sox missed the playoffs two of the past three years (three of four now) we wouldn’t even be talking about this.

Agree completely.

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I think any O's, Jays or Rays fan should be in favor of the 2nd Wild Card spot. I think, for the rest of baseball, it's largely irrelevant.

The Rays have shown they don't need a second wild card spot to make the playoffs, which they have done three of the last four years, including twice as division champion. If this had been in effect over the past dozen years the teams it would have benefitted would have been BOS (twice), CWS, CLE (twice), DET (would have had to have a playoff with SEA to break the tie for second WC), MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA (three times including one tie w/DET), and TEX.

I get that it lowers the bar for making the playoffs to 90 games instead of 95. But the notion that adding an extra wild card somehow levels the playing field is fool's gold. That is still conceding that BOS and NYY are going to outspend everyone else and be the prohibitive favorites going into any season. This would not address the fundamental inequities in the game.

And it still would not address the ineptness of the Oriole organization. The closest either TOR or BAL have been to an expanded playoff spot would be 2003 when TOR was tied with CWS for the sixth best record in the AL.

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The Rays have shown they don't need a second wild card spot to make the playoffs, which they have done three of the last four years, including twice as division champion. If this had been in effect over the past dozen years the teams it would have benefitted would have been BOS (twice), CWS, CLE (twice), DET (would have had to have a playoff with SEA to break the tie for second WC), MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA (three times including one tie w/DET), and TEX.

I get that it lowers the bar for making the playoffs to 90 games instead of 95. But the notion that adding an extra wild card somehow levels the playing field is fool's gold. That is still conceding that BOS and NYY are going to outspend everyone else and be the prohibitive favorites going into any season. This would not address the fundamental inequities in the game.

And it still would not address the ineptness of the Oriole organization. The closest either TOR or BAL have been to an expanded playoff spot would be 2003 when TOR was tied with CWS for the sixth best record in the AL.

Your mixing your arguments and using selective past occurrences as supporting evidence of your stance. Bottom line is the AL East is a division with two super powers, and as much as I like the Rays they are truly only making the playoffs when something goes wrong in BOS/NYA (either the design of the team or the execution of the team). I'd prefer some sort of creative solution where the result is not throwing up hands and saying, "I guess the AL East just has to spot BOS and NYA $100 - $125 MM in payroll", but in absence of that solution I am fine with Baltimore having third place as a target for playoff appearances.

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I've heard many people all over refer to Wednesday night as the "best day of baseball' date=' ever" and I honestly can't argue with that. If there were a 2nd wild card for each league, Wednesday would have been just another ho-hum day with almost nothing at stake. Not that I'm against a 2nd wild card. Just sayin'.[/quote']While that seems to be true this year I don't find using a once-in-a-century day to be a supportive argument. In fact, having teams fight it out for the final two spots (plus whatever division titles are still under contention) would make days like yesterday more likely, no?
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While that seems to be true this year I don't find using a once-in-a-century day to be a supportive argument. In fact, having teams fight it out for the final two spots (plus whatever division titles are still under contention) would make days like yesterday more likely, no?

Thanks for saying this, you're exactly right.

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While that seems to be true this year I don't find using a once-in-a-century day to be a supportive argument. In fact, having teams fight it out for the final two spots (plus whatever division titles are still under contention) would make days like yesterday more likely, no?

I, personally, wasn't using it as a supportive argument. I'm not against it. Just find it slightly ironic that in the same season that features increased momentum to expand the playoffs, had the scenario already been in place the last day of the season would have gone from epic to entirely moot.

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The only way adding an extra team will work is if they eliminate divisions and play a close-to-balanced schedule.

156-game schedule in 175 days

50 series in 25 weeks

Play the four former divison teams 11 games over 4 series each

Play the other ten league teams 10 games over 3 series each

Play four interleague series, including two against the city/regional rival

Arizona or Colorado moves to the AL, so both leagues are 7 east, 4 central, 4 west time zones.

Top-3 make the playoffs, earned by playing a balanced schedule. 4- and 5- play each other in a best-of-3 on the weekend after the season ends on Wednesday.

If 3 and 4 and/or 5 and 6 are tied at the end of the regular season, they play a one-game tiebreaker on Thursday.

With the shortened regular season, they can expand the the first round of the playoffs to best-of-7 and still finish the World Series in October.

The problem with just adding another wild card while keeping divisions is that it is very unfair when it comes to strength of schedule. It is also a problem when a potential second best team in a league is playing for the division the final series, lose, and then have to play an 87-win, second wild card team that perhaps clinched early and can hold their best pitcher for a one-game playoff. It's too easy to say, "Well, win your division!" I'd rather they just get rid of divisions and actually have the best teams in the playoffs, seeded in the right order. It's more fair, and a lot more appealing regular season schedule.

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While that seems to be true this year I don't find using a once-in-a-century day to be a supportive argument. In fact, having teams fight it out for the final two spots (plus whatever division titles are still under contention) would make days like yesterday more likely, no?

No. It's still an arbitrary cutoff point. You're just as likely to have several teams grouped around that point whether it's one WC spot or two (or ten).

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No. It's still an arbitrary cutoff point. You're just as likely to have several teams grouped around that point whether it's one WC spot or two (or ten).
Perhaps. I was thinking about it like a normal distribution curve where teams would be grouped around the median and as one nears the median the teams on each point increase.
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