According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, Major League Baseball owners have chosen to add an additional Wild Card slot in each league. This is huge news, as it's the first major change to the post season since 2003 when the winning league in the All-Star Game got home field advantage in the World Series. The last time the actual structure of the postseason changed was in 1995 when the Wild Card round was introduced.
MLB wants to add these additional slots in the 2012 season, and on SportsCenter, ESPN's Tim Kurkjian expect this to happen. This move would make a significant impact on the MLB postseason. Consider this: if the extra postseason slot existed in the 2011 season, both the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves would have made the postseason, and both would have gotten one more game to win and make the playoffs. If the Braves won that game, the Cardinals wouldn't have been World Champions of Baseball, and we may have had a totally different feeling around the 2011 postseason.
The new Wild Card spot would essentially create a 163rd game between the two Wild Card spot players, a one-game winner-takes-all situation. This means one thing for Washington Nationals fans: their team is one step closer to its first ever postseason appearance. There was already talk of the Nats having a chance to make the Wild Card under the old rules, so this just further enhances that possibility.
This will create buzz and controversy in the world now, though. But there's no doubting the excitement of the situation. It creates a Game 7 atmosphere in each league, every single year, on Day 1 of the playoffs. Even more interesting, because of that Game 7 atmosphere, it will create a renewed interest to win your division. Going down the stretch, sometimes there isn't quite as much incentive to win your division if you already have the Wild Card locked up. Well, now just because you make the Wild Card doesn't mean you get a series. It gets you one game. Talk about incentive.
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That's a tough one, but ultimately I'd have to say I don't like the change.
It seems like the goal was to let in a 5th team because they are deserving to make the postseason. 4/15 teams is awfully low, and most years the 5th best team is pretty darned good. Especially this past year when two good teams had meltdowns that had them narrowly miss the playoffs.
I have three problems with this. One: you're going to have a problem of teams narrowly missing the playoffs anyway. There's no greater chance of such a meltdown occurring if you let in 4, 5, 6, or 14 teams each year. Two: while the 5th best team may be "deserving", you're decreasing the benefit of actually performing better over the course of a 162 game season for the 4th ranked team, and placing more emphasis on arbitrary divisional cutoffs. Win 98 games? Who cares - you play in the East where the Yanks got 105 wins, so now you get a one-game playoff with a team that won 88 games. This is very possible under the new system. Three: it actually hurts the Nats, and any other team that plays in a power division. It is going to be extremely rare that the 4th and 5th best teams are each from the same division given unbalanced schedules (though it happened this year in the AL East). So all that's going to happen is the wild card team from this division, possibly the 2nd best team in the league, gets to enter a one-game playoff before the playoffs start.
@mk7676 agreed, it will have the same issues on competition. the only reason for this change is $$$$$$$$
I'm not a fan of the decision, but it will help the Nationals...i don't know though if I want our first playoff appearance to come in that form