Adam Auslund was a long time intern for multiple shows on the FOX Sports Network, but has now found his place, and a job, working for The Petros and Money Show.
Originally from Nor Cal, he’s been described as a bitter, broken sports fan ever since he experienced the rare "Hat Trick of Death" where all 3 of his teams (Sacramento Kings, San Francisco Giants and Carolina Panthers) all lost their respective sports’ championship game in the short span of a year and a half.
Adam now tries to look at sports from a less serious, more irreverent perspective, because that’s what helps bury the pain and keep him sober.
When I first heard about Major League Baseball adding a playoff team I was excited. I find it ridiculous that in a sport where you play 162 games, only 4 teams from each league make the playoffs. The NFL has 6 from each league and the NBA and hockey both have 8. Meanwhile, the long grueling baseball season only sees 8 teams TOTAL from both leagues enter their pretentious post-season.
I get it.
It’s about the purity and blah, blah, blah, history of the game. The fewer amount of teams that get invited make the party more cool and exclusive. Well tell that to a pirates fan that hasn’t seen their team in the playoffs since ‘93. I don’t think they would feel bad or apologize if they were the 6th or heck, 8th team representing the National League deep into October.
More teams in the playoffs really means more opportunities for fans to pay attention and care late into the season. It’s more drama and more meaningful games to play because maybe now your team is no longer out of it by July.
So you would think I’d be a staunch supporter of a 5th team from each league being added into the playoffs this year, right?
Well, the devil’s in the details.
See, the format for this extra “playoff series” is terrible. Because you have an odd number of teams (5) either someone is going to get a bye or there is going to be another series before the rest get started. And in this case, the solution is a one game playoff. You have the two Wild Card teams going at it Friday from the NL and AL. Whoever wins moves into the playoffs to the traditional 5 game division round series.
So in reality, this extra Wild Card team creates what is a play-in-game between Wild Card teams. At first that didn’t sound that bad. One-game-playoffs happen once in a few years (ok, only 13 times in the history of baseball) to decide who moves on.
The problem is, those teams were determining a tie-breaker based on having the same record. But in this case, you can have a discrepancy in the number of wins one Wild Card team has over the other. So the Braves can win 5 more games then the Cardinals, but they still get thrown into a one game showdown to see who moves into the tournament and actually participates in an actual playoff series.
Sure, the team with a better record gets home-field advantage in this one game cluster-f, but playing at home isn’t as critical in baseball and you still could be at a disadvantage depending on what pitching matchup you may luck into, given the lack of preperation between game 162, and what really is game 163.
So, if adding another Wild Card team means this kind of one-game-half-ass-kinda-sorta-pseudo-playoff game – I don’t want any part of it.
THIS is the kind of poor playoff format that makes the regular season more meaningless. There’s too much freakiness and randomness in a 1 game do or die situation. It's too abitrary and doesn’t give you the best indicator as to who the better team really is. Jeez, even a 5 game series is cutting it too close for my taste.
If you’re a fan of the Braves or Cardinals and you lose Friday, did you really feel like you were in the playoffs? Are you going to be proud of your season and count it as a success because you were in a measly 1 game playoff? And if you’re the Braves and you lose, wouldn’t you feel a little cheated knowing that with last years setup you would have had the possibility of 5 games to prove yourself?
I get the feeling baseball is doing this as some sort of marketing ploy to generate excitement with viewers to hopefully hold them over throughout the playoffs. Bud Selig saw how last season ended with the Rays, Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals fates all being decided on the very last day of the season. He saw the exciting playoff tie-breaking 1 run games from 07-09. The league wants more of that and they’re now trying to generate it artificially.
No doubt a one game playoff format is exciting. It gives you the thrill of a game 7, where everything is on the line. We fall in love with this every year during March Madness. But this isn’t college basketball. Let them have their novelty. Going through a 162 game season should earn you more then 1 damn game to see if you move on or not.
In fact, calling it part of the MLB playoffs is just a cheap trick. It’s a way to try and appease those who are pleading for more playoff teams (like me) without really giving us what we want.
Eh, well maybe this is the true meaning of a Wild Card.
You win Bud... this time.