Lost in the shuffle of the NBA cancelling its first two weeks was Bud Selig talking to reporters before game 2 of the NLCS. One of the big revelations is that while it might not happen for 2012, we could see the doubling of Wildcard teams coming to MLB soon thereafter. Selig spoke about the addition of the Wildcard and where it could go in the future.
You remember I got killed. I was getting killed for a lot of things. It was brutal. He’s ruining the sport, what’s he doing, and so on and so forth. And we kept expanding and expanding and expanding, and somebody had to make an adjustment. You couldn’t have 30 teams and just keep it at six… …I’ve said to everybody I think 10 out of 30 is fair. I think it will produce the number. I will tell you on my 14-man committee — Tony La Russa is here today, so he could speak to it — the vote is 14 to nothing, it’s been all the way along. We spent hours talking about it.
On first thought, it sounds like a great idea. If we’ve learned anything from the business of baseball is that money can’t buy championships. Money does frequently buy playoff appearances. There are examples of poorly spent money like the Mets, but they are the exception not the rule. With expanded Wildcard standings, baseball will open itself up to yet another team from each league. Once the playoffs start, anything can happen. Doesn’t that give a team like the Indians a better chance to sneak into the playoffs and make a run? Shouldn’t we be in favor of this?
Let’s look at the American League for the last few years if there was an additional Wildcard.
2011 the Red Sox would have made it
2010 the Red Sox would have made it
2009 the Rangers would have made it
2008 the Yankees would have made it
2007 the Tigers would have made it
2006 the White Sox would have made it
2005 the Indians would have made it
2004 the A’s would have made it
2006 would have been the strangest year for the AL Central as the White Sox would have been the third team from the division with Minnesota winning it and Detroit scoring the first Wildcard spot.
So, what does all this mean? Not sure exactly. Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that MLB’s magical last day of the season with the Rays and Red Sox fighting it out for the Wildcard slot wouldn’t have happened. The Red Sox would have had the second wildcard slot. In the National League Atlanta’s collapse would have still seen them earn the second Wildcard slot there meaning that St. Louis’ run would have been diminished somewhat. Maybe the loss of that kind of excitement to the regular season would be made up in the playoffs. Can’t say for sure.
What I do know is that I think I’ll take the chance. According to this the Indians would have had one more playoff appearance. Who knows how many deadlines this rule could affect going forward that would turn the Indians into buyers rather than sellers?
In all practicality, this will probably just get the big-spending AL East more involved in the playoffs every year than they already are. Still, I have been conditioned by this game. I know they aren’t going to make sweeping changes to the salary cap or pay structure of players. So give me an extra ping pong ball in the playoff lottery, I guess. It’s better than nothing, right?
At least this way the Indians of 2005 could have “snuck in” with a rotation of 18-game winner Cliff Lee, 15 game winner C.C. Sabathia, Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook and Scott Elarton. I’ll take that opportunity with Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner both batting over 0.300 for the season and with 53 home runs combined.
If it can give the Tribe one extra chance per decade, are you in?