We have known for quite some time now that Major League Baseball was going to try and expand the playoffs. MLB and the Players Union agreed to make it happen yesterday. There will now be two wild card teams in each league that will face each other in a one game win and you're in scenario. I'm torn on how I feel about it. I grew up in a time where there were 4 playoff teams total. Now there is going to be 5 in each league. Thats quite a change since the 1993 White Sox were ousted by the eventual World Champion Blue Jays.
In my opinion, there are some good things about it though:
- It makes winning the division more important. With one wild card team, they were on equal footing with any other playoff team. Now they will have to survive a sudden death game to get into the actual playoffs.
- One game play-ins are always great theater. One of the greatest games I've ever attended was the Blackout game against the Twins. Its also great television even if your team isn't involved. Not often would I get too excited about a Rockies vs. Padres game but that is exactly what happened in 2007.
- They have done away with the stupid "Division winners and Wild Card winners from the same division can't play each other in the first round" rule. I never understood why that existed in the first place.
- More markets are involved for longer. Obviously thats a good thing for teams, players and fans. As much as I am a traditionalist, it kind of sucks when your team is eliminated by May 15.
It does have some drawbacks though:
- This year, because the schedule was already set, the division winner is going to have to open up the playoff game at the Wild Card winners house. So if this was 2005, the White Sox would have had to go into Fenway for two games. That could drastically change the outcome of the series. Thankfully that is only for this season.
- I don't want MLB to become the NBA or the NHL. In those leagues, there may as well not even be a regular season. The Bulls and the Heat might as well not even play any of their star players from now until the playoffs start. Why risk the injury? I don't want to cheapen the regular season. I think this is as far as they should go. Of course as soon as a team like the Royals upset the Yankees in a one game play-in, my guess is MLB will then push for at least a best of 3 series.
- A third place team can now win the World Series. I don't like it. Although in 2006, the Sox would have had the opportunity to defend the championship as a 3rd place team so I guess I could be swayed.
- Possible ridiculous end to the regular season. I'm not sure if this should be under the pro or cons list... but there will be a playoff game to determine the division champions if there is a tie. There will be playoff games to see who gets the wild card spots if there is a tie. There will be the Wild Card playoff game to get into the Playoffs. Then there are the LDS, LCS and World Series. There are going to be 10 playoff games before the playoffs start for chrissakes. While it may be exciting, it could be really exhausting.
After writing this, I think I've talked myself into not being opposed to the changes for next season. I really don't want any more playoff expansion though.
What do you guys think? Are you for the changes or against them?