Retiring Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones has become a little more outspoken as he approaches the finish line of his 19-year career. That continued on Friday night prior to the Braves 6-2 loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia.
The topic he weighed in on this time?
That would be Major League Baseball's new one-game wild-card playoff, which, barring a ridiculous collapse by the Washington Nationals in the National League East or another late season tumble by Atlanta, will directly affect his Braves' postseason chances. And let's just say that when asked for his opinion on the subject, he didn't disguise his feelings one bit.
"I think it's stupid, to be honest with you," Jones said. "But Major Lague Baseball wants a bunch of teams in the playoffs. There's nothing like cut-throat baseball for the fans. And people love that 163rd regular-season game. They've loved it in the past. I'm sure that's probably what's promoted a second wild-card team. I wish they would've done it a year earlier so we would have had a chance last year. But it is what it is."
The timing is likely what irks Jones the most about baseball's new rule. Had it been in place when the Braves blew an 8 1/2 game wild-card lead over the St. Louis Cardinals last September, I'm sure he'd be just as much in favor of it as Bud Selig. This season, the Braves again hold a large six-game advantage over the Cardinals, with the Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers not far behind, but would find themselves getting ousted all over again should one of those teams knock them off in the one-game playoff.
They just can't find a comfortable position, and if they were to lose that play-in game, that would have to be the most brutal back-to-back season endings we've seen in any sport in quite some time.
"You say to yourself, we could possibly have the second- or third-best record in the National League when the season's over and we have to play a one-game playoff just to get in," Jones said. "That doesn't seem fair because anything can happen [in one game]. Now if you were to say the two wild-card teams will play a best two-out-of-three [series], I'd be OK with that. We play three-game series all the time, and we concentrate on winning those series all the time. I think it's more fair from a standpoint that anything can happen in one game — a blown call by an umpire, a bad day at the office … at least in a two-of-three-game series you have some sort of leeway."
I think Chipper makes a decent point there, but the scheduling conflicts would be unworkable and of course there's the potential result of the higher seeded team winning game one and losing games two and three, leading to complaints about the series format. There's really no way for baseball to win from that perspective, but considering the money they're about to make from it, there's no way for them to lose where it matters most.
I guess the lesson for all teams here is to either win your division, which thankfully takes on much more importance again, or step up and win the baseball game with your back against the wall. There's nothing to feel bad or complain about if you accomplish one of the two.