Bud Selig the Poker Dealer…

"Suicide Kings, One-Eyed Jacks, Deuces, Red Fours and Jokers Wild."

Bud Selig will not rest until he turns baseball into his own personal circus.  Selig competes with Jamie Moyer as my true baseball nemesis.  I thought SI’s Moyer feature yesterday was enough to fuel my hate engine for the entirety of Spring Training, but no, Bud Selig has to go all ham-fist and force through his double wild-card plan for 2012.  For a commissioner, Selig seems a bit too concerned about his “legacy,” for my taste.  He wants too badly to leave a mark on the game.  Inter-league play, wild-cards, ruining the All-Star Game…they’re all in play for Bud.  His main concern seems to be making September baseball count in as many cities as possible.  The problem is, there’s a ceiling there.  At least I hope there is.  Eventually, you’re going to have to stop adding teams to the playoffs.  What he doesn’t seem concerned about is any type of integrity or credibility for the playoff system.  How about we add a 3rd and 4th wild-card team to the mix and instead of a 1-game series, they’ll do something only slightly less arbitrary like, I don’t know, play a game Words with Friends.

In this post from last Fall I detailed several seasons where the 2nd wild-card would be rewarded to a borderline team and completely invalidate the regular season.  I haven’t changed my opinion on that.  I can’t get behind a scenario where the 3rd place team in a division makes the post-season.  Even if that team happened to be the Phillies, you’ve got to look big picture.  A one-game playoff, in baseball, is a complete joke.  I understand that they can happen at the end of the regular season, but that’s the regular season.  Once you qualify for the post-season in baseball, I believe you’re entitled to some margin for error.  This isn’t football after all, it’s a game we’ve come to digest in terms of a series, not a winner take all, one-off, coin flip.

And, to say that this benefits the division winner is a stretch.  The most common argument is that the wild-card team will have to use its ace pitcher in round 1 (the prelims?) and therefore will be at a bigger disadvantage against the #1 seed.  Well, it is often the case that a wild-card team will need to use its best pitcher in the last or next to last game of the year just to get into the playoffs.  You’ll remember that Chris Carpenter pitched the last day a year ago and was pushed back to game two in Philly.  In this scenario, Lohse probably pitches the playoff game and then Carpenter lines up for game 1 against the Phillies.  Also, remember that the final day of the 2011 season, considered the most improbable and exciting day of regular season baseball in recent history would have been rendered completely pointless.  But, hey, as long as those fans in Colorado thought they had a sniff for an extra week.  That’s what matters.

The real way to go would be to make the 1st round seven games (apologies to the dead horse), or there are some more radical plans that call for the #1 seed to get 4 home games in the opening round, which I don’t see as much of an advantage.  The way I see it, the more rounds you add, the more the playoffs become random and with the exclusivity at baseball playoff’s roots, that’s a bit hard to swallow.

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Phillies/Baseball Notes

1.  Phillies beat the Florida State Seminoles, 6-1.  John Mayberry went 0-3, Dom Brown was o-1 and was hit by a pitch.  Tyson Gillies scored a couple of runs, Pete Orr doubled, and Hector Luna homered.  That’s about it.  The pitchers, many (if not all) of whom will not make the team looked pretty good against that rough ACC competition.

2.  Ryan Howard is shelved.  He had an infection “cleaned out.”  Whatever.  Who knows what’s going on with the guy’s Achilles.  There’s no damage to the repaired tendon, but he’s still sitting out for a while.  No one has any clue when this guy’s going to play.

3.  Mike Stanton, prodigious Marlins slugger of the future, would like to be called Giancarlo Stanton.  Oh yeah, well I’d like to be called…oh, wait, apparently that’s Stanton’s actual first name.  Fine, then.  As long as we’re cool with me still calling you Mike Stanton in casual conversation.   Stanton’s idol is Roberto Kelly, so this really comes as no surprise.

4.  Cole Hamels to get the start Saturday against the Yankees.  I’m predicting 2 IP, 0 Runs.  Those bats always lag behind for a week.

MLB Mucking it all Up.

Welcome to the AL West.

So, one wild-card team per league isn’t enough for Bud Selig.  Can this guy retire already?  Go teach your classes.  I’m sure they’ll be thrilling.  How to ruin the All-Star and then Monumentally Over-Value it the Next Season 104, How to Sell Franchises to Broke People 230, Holding your Hand to Your Ear 421 (Seminar).  You get the idea.  Bud really wants to leave his mark on the game and that mark is going to be 15-team per league Inter-league cluster bang and 10 of 30 teams making the playoffs.  But…those 162 games count.  OK.

What’s the problem with 1 more wild-card?  It puts a premium on winning the division, but it also seems to add an even more arbitrary nature to the post-season.  If they’re adding games, why not just make the first round a best of seven?  If you look at this year, you would have been robbed the two big collapse stories.  Not that you want to dwell on the negative, but Boston and Atlanta still would have been in this year under the new rules.  Do they deserve to be rewarded for those finishes?  In 2009, you would have had Boston again (a 3rd place team in their own division) playing the Yankees (who beat them by 5.5 games over the 162-game season).  Is that fair if Boston wins that game?  In 2008, you have the same AL East scenario flipped.  In 2007, 2 teams would have tied for the NL’s 2nd spot (so there’s another game to wedge in), in 2006 you’d have the 83-win Phillies in the post-season.  You get my point?  Dilution.  This year we were whining about how the races were over in August and then you ended up with the best last day ever.

And, the 15/15 team leagues seems to be the first step in making the DH universal.  This is MY OWN PERSONAL NIGHTMARE.  I don’t know if it’ll change the amount of inter-league games, but they’ll be a constant and you’d have to think that NL teams would have to start making roster adjustments.  If that’s the case, is it even fair to have the two different sets of rules?

Anyway, I think baseball is missing the boat.  Exclusivity is what they had going for it to a certain extent, and now the opening portion of the playoffs will feel like the NCAA tournament.  Just for reference, the Astros move in 2013 and the playoffs may not change until then either.

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Speaking of missing the boat, I’m not sure why the Phillies seem intent on running the exact same team out there after they promised some type of change.  I’m speaking especially in terms of the bench as it looks like Brian Schneider is going to be back.  Schneider does that “handling the staff” thing well, but at this point in his career is a liability at the plate.  You throw him on a bench with Valdez/Martinez and suddenly you’ve got 3 guys who can’t really hit.  The Phils laud their defense and then complain about production.  It doesn’t make any sense.  And, the way Amaro is talking this week, you’ve just got to hope he’s lying.  He’s talking about everyone coming back, both middle infielders and Benny San Fran.  Well, there’s your bench.  Where’s the turnover coming from?