Pundits and commentators have been bloviating about how great the second wild card slot that Bud Selig instituted has been. They fail to mention how great this September could have been without a second wild card or how unfair the results could be.
Here we sit with one game left on the schedule and Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, and New York are all within one win. What has the second wildcard done? It’s allowed all of them to clinch a playoff berth and shifted the race to inter-divisional battles between Baltimore/New York and Texas/Oakland for their respective division titles, rather than a four-way free for all with just three available playoff slots. So don’t let them tell you that the wild card created a great race, it merely changed the race from a four team race to two separate and less interesting two team races where everyone has already clinched a “playoff” berth (if you call MLB’s equivalent to the NCAA play-in game a playoff berth).
Look to the national league, where all the races finished up with a plenty left to play. The additional wild card didn’t create anything special there either. All it served to do was punish an excellent Braves team and help a sub-90-win Cardinals team. That’s what we can expect–sub-90-win teams to find their way into the playoffs at the expense of the real wild card team.
A month ago everyone wanted to thank the extra wild card for giving a plucky Orioles team a chance at a playoff berth. Now Orioles fans may end up sarcastically thanking Commissioner Selig for denying them a real ALDS berth (without a gimmick one game playoff round) in a year when they would have won their first real Wild Card anyway. We can all sarcastically thank him for watering down our September pennant race.
In my book, the second wild card is in the running with the nine-game ACC schedule as the most blunderous move by a sport commissioner in recent years. Though, I still give the edge to Swofford and his Cockimamy nine game schedule.
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