Bud Selig, MLB’s ironfisted dictator, has given us a second wild card and it is here to stay. Selig’s tenure as commissioner has been marked by some controversial decisions, most notably the creation of the first wild card, awarding home field advantage to the victor of the All-Star game and the beginning of interleague play. Selig does not shy away from shaking the game.
The creation of the second wild card team though, is an awful decision that is ruining the MLB regular season.
The idea behind the additional playoff spot is not a horrible one. Giving wild card teams the disadvantage of having to burn their ace in a one-game playoff is a good way of rewarding division winners. Allowing more fans to dream of the postseason is theoretically a great goal; practically, however, it’s a travesty.
The regular season used to mean that great teams had to slug their way through an excruciatingly long season knowing that giving up just one game could haunt them on the final day of the season. With ten teams now playing after the 162nd game, this is no longer the case. Great teams can coast, while above average teams get the spotlight.
Baseball’s post season was sacred to its fans because it was such an exclusive club. Fans of the game mocked other professional American sports leagues because .500 teams could sneak into playoff spots. Baseball was different, the playoffs did not have early round romps, competing teams had already proved that they belonged.
The extra wild card means that this is no longer the case. The race between the long suffering Orioles and the A’s for the final playoff spot should be riveting; instead it is an embarrassment to the game. Both teams have far exceeded preseason expectations, but both teams are merely good, neither is great.
Selig has taken one of baseball’s calling cards and destroyed it.