November 19, 2010
I wasn't planning on weighing in on this whole expanded playoffs proposal because, well, I didn't think MLB was really serious about the whole thing.
After all, the topic is slated to hit that "special committee" that Bud Selig put together last winter and it originally looked like it would be their "hey, everyone look busy!" project for 2010.
You know, just like revisiting the DH rule was the committee's focal point in 2009.
But after everyone just shrugged their shoulders at the suggestion this past week, it looks like Bud Selig's suggestion that the playoffs expand from eight to 10 teams has a real shot at being adopted.
Oh, for pete's sake.
Commissioner Bud Selig's plan to expand baseball's playoffs to 10 teams seemed inevitable after little to no opposition emerged during meetings this week with owners and general managers.
Because baseball's labor contract runs to December 2011, the extra round of playoffs is not likely to start until 2012.
Selig said his special 14-man committee will discuss adding two wild-card teams when it meets Dec. 7 during the winter meetings in nearby Lake Buena Vista.
"We will move ahead, and move ahead pretty quickly," Selig said
So let's get this straight: After a season in which everyone complained that the existing wild card had robbed all the drama from the regular-season race between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, Selig and Co. are busy devising a system that would potentially drain the meaning from another race in each league? And it's going to be considered by a committee which has also looked at ways to shorten the postseason?
As it stands right now, the proposal would add a wild-card team in each league. They'd play the existing wild card in a yet-to-be determined format — best-of-three? one-game showdown? — with the winner advancing to the LDS round to face one of the three division winners.
The general managers are, not surprisingly, in favor of this. More playoff spots means more chances for GMs and managers to prove their worth and keep their jobs. The owners like it, too, presumably because they think it will increase interest and attendance down the stretch. (Though how many more fans did playoff berths really attract in places like St. Petersburg and Cincinnati this season?)
Meanwhile, Selig seems to love the idea and says we'll all eventually get over it, just like opponents to the original wild-card plan did. In defending his plan, he even somehow found a creepier way to suggest we all thought he was sleeping with our mothers back when he floated the first wild-card idea in the early '90s.
"I got ripped and torn apart, and it was pretty bad," Selig said. "If I had defiled motherhood I don't think I could have gotten ripped any more than I did. But now it's fascinating to me. Now they not only like it so much, they want more of it."
"Defiled motherhood." Well, there's a phrase I wish I had never heard.
It's not that I don't see where Selig is coming from. He's likely seen the excitement produced by the great tiebreakers in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and thinks that can be replicated on an annual basis with this new plan. I don't hate the sentiment behind it.
I'm just not so sure a play-in situation can seem exciting if we're guaranteed it every year. The great thing about those tiebreakers is that they were winner-take-all conclusions to a couple of months of scratching for each victory. Everything has to fall just right for the games to be staged and we feel lucky when they do.
But if they're scheduled showdowns, it could be a completely different story. Yes, we would have gained a decent duel between the Red Sox and White Sox for the second AL wild-card spot this season, but we would have lost the three-way drama that was created by the Braves, Giants and Padres vying for two National League spots over the final month. (All three teams would have made the postseason under the new plan.)
Look, Selig deserves credit for introducing the wild-card spot in 1994 and going to three divisions. It has increased interest in the game and made for some good baseball in October. With the exception of some AL East races, it hasn't robbed that much meaning from the regular season.
But Selig shouldn't misinterpret that praise as an indication that we want more. Our serving of postseason baseball has been just the right size, thank you.
What do you think? Would you like to see the playoffs expand?