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.
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.