Last winter, when the prospect of expanded playoffs first arose, I wrote:
Baseball’s postseason exclusivity is one of the few advantages baseball has on other major professional sports. The NBA and NHL have expanded their playoff structure so far that the interminable regular season seems almost pointless. (a baseball executive friend of mine once said ” So wait, in the NBA the team with the worst record doesn’t get the number 1 pick, more than half the teams make the playoffs, and the team with the best record has to play two more months of basketball to win it all. Why do they even play a regular season?”)
And, if I may be so bold, the 2011 Rays and Red Sox proved me to be absolutely right.
So, this morning, I wiped the sleep from my eyes, cracked my knuckles, and prepared to slash this expanded playoffs/15 team leagues/season-long interleague play silliness to bits. But, a funny thing happened. I started to like the idea. I’m having a Mitt Romney moment.
I don’t like the idea because it will make it easier for the Rays to play in the playoffs. I like the idea because, as I read the plan, the wild card teams DON’T make the playoffs they get one last opportunity to get into the playoffs.
The thing is, I don’t care about whether or not the Rays make the playoffs. To me, that is no milestone. The only thing that matters in October is whether you win a Division, win a Pennant, or win the whole ball of wax. Just qualifying for the crap shoot that is October baseball isn’t something I choose to commemorate (sorry T-shirt companies).
Either way, the thing I like about this system, is not the extra shot at admission, it’s the incentive to win the Division. Hopefully, this brings back the pennant race in full force. Hopefully this creates a lot more Septembers. Either way, I think it gives ESPN a good reason to replay Longo’s walk-off shot over-and-over-and-over. And there is nothing bad about that.