MLB Gambling with Addition of Extra Wild-Card Team

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig speaks at a news conference at MLB headquarters on November 22, 2011 in New York City. Selig announced a new five-year labor agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig are being proactive in broadening the appeal of America’s Pastime, while also bringing the game to a more sensible level of play. Starting this season, the league is allowing one extra team into the playoffs from each league.

The two teams with the best records that did not win their own division will play in a winner-take-all game for the right to advance to the divisional series.

But with any change comes debate, and while I love the forward thinking displayed by the league here, I am cautious as to how it will be received once the season ends and the playoffs actually begin.

Sure, it sounds great now—one extra team gets into the playoffs for a shot at a miraculous run similar to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. But is a one-game series going to really solve anything?

My first thought upon hearing of the news was that they have added a play-in game equivalent to the NCAA tournament, and almost nobody thinks those added any value to the greatest postseason tournament there is.

Much of the motivation behind the change is an effort to recapture the exhilarating climax that we witnessed on the last day of the regular season last year. But that gripping finale was unprecedented and will likely go unparalleled in our lifetime.

Instead of trying to artificially catch lightning in a bottle again, why not give the wild-card teams a real chance with a shorter three-game series, instead of forcing them to play with only one bullet in the chamber?

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