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Adding another wild card team? No thanks.

Sep 23, 2009, 10:42 AM EDT

Peter Gammons is bored, so he’s proposing expanding the playoffs:

But why not think about having two wild-card teams per league?
For instance, in what might be an aberrational season, the Giants,
Marlins, Braves and Cubs would be within 2½ games of that NL spot right
now.

So MLB can avoid a Thanksgiving clash with the Lions, start
the season half a week earlier; someone much smarter than I points out
that, as opposed to starting on Monday and getting no one at weekday
games on Wednesday and Thursday, they should start on Thursday and play
the first weekend.
Then have the two-out-of-three play-in series on the weekend.

The several paragraphs he spends arguing against such an idea before he gets to the above-quoted bit is much more compelling.  This year’s lack of exciting pennant races is an aberration.  Expanding the playoffs risks cheapening both the playoffs and the regular season the way the NBA and NHL have done. I’m not a fan of the wild card as it is, but it’s been around long enough to
where I’m resigned to it.  Let’s not press our luck any further though,
OK? 

The most bizarre thing about this column, however, is that a guy like Gammons wrote it. He’s not a total purist or anything, but he’s not the kind of guy who tends to throw out ideas like this. Indeed, this column has all of the earmarks of an editor’s suggestion — “hey Pete! Put something together that argues for an expansion of the playoffs!” — rather than something Gammons actually believes in.

So it’s not only a bad idea, but it’s a bad idea poorly supported in its own right.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Sep 23, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    Glad to have you back, Craig.
    I like the Wildcard, but I’d propose a 2-1-2 LDS set-up. That really hampers the wild card winner as they only have 1 home game out of a possible five.
    I wouldn’t add a second WC team.

  2. peteinfla - Sep 23, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    I agree completely Craig. Although this years races have been les than exciting, there were alot of teams in it until a month ago. Unfortunately they (Atl, Fla, S.F., Tex) all got cold at the end. And in previous years the races came right down to the last week of the season. To add wild card teams not only dilutes the post season, but renders the 162 regular season games less important. We DON”T want to turn this into the NBA or NHL! I do think the Division series should be 7 games though, not 5.

  3. David - Sep 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    I like the idea of a second wild card team, but force the two wild card teams to play one day after the season ends and then a double header the following day with the rest of the playoffs beginning the day after that. I think putting the carrot that is the playoffs out there will give more casual fans a reason to follow baseball and be excited. You can still protect the importance of the regular season by making the wild card slots sufficiently punative.

  4. Dave - Sep 23, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    I totally agree with peteinfla. I have less interest in the NBA and NHL regular seasons because they’re basically pointless. Don’t dilute baseball the same way! And as much as I hate that my team (Cubs) won’t make it; frankly they don’t deserve it.

  5. Joe M - Sep 23, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    Make the regular season really count. Two divisons per league. Best 5 out 9 League Championship to make the World Series. World Series: Best 5 of 9. The best teams will really make it in and have enough games to earn the World Series Title. Stop the madness of more teams that haven’t done anything to deserve a champange celebration, acting like they’ve won a championship when they haven’t.

  6. BOB - Sep 23, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    FORGET WILD CARDS ALTOGETHER! IF A TEAM IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO FINISH FIRST, IT HAS NO BUSINESS AS A “GUEST.” ONLY THE FIRST PLACE TEAMS PLAY AND THEN ONLY 2 OUT OF 3 AND THE FINAL TWO PLAY A BEST OF SEVEN!

  7. Steve A - Sep 23, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    What do you do with the other Division Series between division winners? Do you keep that at 2-2-1?

  8. YX - Sep 23, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    Bob,
    I’m pretty good with computers, if you need your caps lock fixed I’m happy to help.

  9. Ber - Sep 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Bob, what about the fact that the wildcard winner often has a better record than the winners of the other divisions? That would tell me that they were good enough to finsh first in those divisions.

  10. Preston - Sep 23, 2009 at 1:56 PM

    I agree that adding another wild card team is a bad idea, but the second part of what Gammons said seems to make a lot of sense – start the season a little earlier, on a Thursday or Friday, to get a (well-attended) weekend series in to start the season; as Peteinfla suggested, that extra couple days could be used to turn the Divisional round of the playoffs into a best of 7.

  11. Phil - Sep 23, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    What about just making 4 divisions and then just take the leaders at the end of the regular season to enter the playoffs? The team with the highest winning percentage plays the one with the lowest, then the other two play. Both 2-2-1 format in the first round, then the current league championship and world series schedules. The season isn’t any longer than it is now and we still have 4 teams in the tounament.

  12. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Sep 23, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    You’d probably have to expand to 32 teams and do a 4/4/4/4 like football for that to happen. It’d be an interesting thought as it would also eliminate the disparity between the AL (14 teams) and NL (16 teams).

  13. Joe M - Sep 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    No stop it. 162 games should mean something. 2 teams for each league play best 5 of 9 for the Pennant. Then the top two after 171 games (162+9) play for the World Series title, best 5 of 9. The best team over 180 games(171+9) wins the World Series title. Not the team who plays best over a 5 games series that is wild card that had the worst record of the 8 in the playoffs. The season and the playoffs will be more meaningful and excititng with the limited number of top teams (only the best)and the best 5 of 9 format!

  14. ditmars1929 - Sep 23, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    I can’t stand the wild card as it is, and I think Gammons needs to finally be carted off to the nursing home.

  15. pikepredator - Sep 23, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    Funny thing – I had the exact same thought about it being a topic that was “suggested” to Gammons. It would be one thing if the Rays were going to win 92 games, but when I look at this year’s teams, it seems like the Wild Card does exactly what it should do – make sure a deserving team isn’t left out of the playoffs. Certainly, Boston is as good as the Angels and much better than the winner of the Central, and so deserve to be in the playoffs. None of the teams that will miss the playoffs this year are top-notch teams anyhow.

  16. PimP JuicE MaN - Sep 23, 2009 at 4:37 PM

    WHY SHOULD THE WILD CARD TEAM ENJOY THE FRUITS OF MORE HOME GAMES
    WHEN THEY DIDN’T WIN THEIR DIVISION ?

  17. PimP JuicE MaN - Sep 23, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    DID YOU GET BEAT UP BY CAPS LOCK ? MAYBE THAT COULD EXPLAIN YOU
    FASCINATION WITH THE CAP LOCK……………
    DO YOU KNOW WHY THEY HAVE A CAPS LOCK KEY, SO YOU CAN PUT IT ON
    AND OFF, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T READ POSTS WITH ALL CAPS IF THEY
    BOTHER YOU SO MUCH!
    LIVE AND LET LIVE

  18. Cubs - Sep 23, 2009 at 4:52 PM

    I like the the wild card because of the disparity between the divisions. There could potentially be three or four teams that have better records than the winner of a division, and only one makes the playoffs. I say send the four teams with the best records to the playoffs regardless of division.

  19. Omega - Sep 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM

    Put the teams back into 4 divisions like the good old days. An East and West divsion in both leagues.
    The winners of the four divisions play in their respective LCS like in the good old days. The 4 best teams in baseball are decided at the end of a 162 game season, plain and simple.
    Baseball has gone down hill under Selig’s Reign of Mediocracy and the Wild Card 3 divisions per league is only one of many glaring examples of this.

  20. Malcohm McGregor - Sep 23, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    With three divisions in each leaque, a wildcard entry fits pretty well. No more playoff games. With a 162 game schedule and two playoff series and the world series the season is almost too long. I for one do not want to see baseball being played on Thanksgiving. Gets rather cold in the north at that time of the year. And no, don’t consider nuetral warm weather stadiums as a answer to more playoff games.

  21. Jeff Berardi - Sep 24, 2009 at 1:46 PM

    Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus actually advocated doing something like this a few years back. IIRC, his idea was basically this: Add another wildcard. Make the two wildcards play a single elimination game against each other. This means there’s a significant disadvantage to making the playoffs via the wildcard (you have to burn a pitcher, probably your ace). This would give teams a greater incentive to win their divisions, and make the wildcard LESS important (Joe hates the wildcard).
    I like that idea, personally. You get game 163s every year, and those are always exciting, and you bring back the importance of winning the division. If the Red Sox and Yankees are within a game or two of the AL East lead with a week to go, and the loser is going to get the wildcard… well, under that system, they’d actually have a reason to care.

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