MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has been heralded as a baseball purist. A traditionalist. One who's primary concern has always been and, as he has put it, "will forever remain," the integrity of America's pastime.
Tim Lincecum, on the other hand, is a 27-year-old two-time Cy Young recipient who sports shoulder-length hair, utilizes what is perhaps the most unconventional pitching delivery in baseball and has been known to enjoy unwinding late at night.
It's ironic, then, that it is Selig who is heavily pushing a playoff expansion that would see an extra wild-card team from each league make the playoffs, bringing the total of teams in the postseason from eight to 10, and it is Lincecum who is adamant about sticking to the traditional method.
You know what they say. Money talks.
"Personally I think it's kind of funky, just because the game has been this way for so long," Lincecum said Friday before the San Francisco Giants' series opener against the Atlanta Braves. "Why mess it up, other than for monetary purposes, and that's probably what he (Selig) is looking at. That's like, 'Okay, don't worry about us as human beings or players.'"
"It doesn't seem very fair, and personally I don't know where his head is at," Lincecum said of Selig. "It doesn't seem right to me."
One wouldn't expect such criticism out of the generally mild-mannered Lincecum, who, excluding a misdemeanor that stemmed from possession of 3.3 grams of marijuana in Washington (which would have only constituted a small fine in California), has never made headlines for any reason other than absolute domination on the mound, most famously throughout the 2011 postseason, in which he led the Giants to their first World Series title since 1954.
Lincecum went on to ask why Selig wants to fix what's not broken. "Players like it the way it is. It's dog-eat-dog. People know they need to win 11 games to win the World Series."
"Nobody wants to have to worry, 'Oh (expletive), now I've got another (expletive) team in the (expletive) mix. Now we have to worry about what that takes and what they're going to do.' What if the [second] wild-card team is not deserving of getting in?"
Lincecum's points are collectively quite valid.
In a game marred with injury, why increase the workload upon players by adding games? Why change baseball's traditional postseason format, which has quite literally received zero criticism from fans and players alike? And, lastly, why allow teams that could potentially not deserve postseason berths to play on into October?
Money, of course. Why else? In an era of ever-expanding seasons that further pad the wallets of the powers that be in nearly every sport, professional or collegiate, why would baseball be any different?
Take NCAA football, for example.
Why not submit to the relentless cries for a playoff system at the conclusion of the regular season, rather than the current bowl system that unjustly provides only two teams a shot at a national championship?
Such a system would render many regular-season games insignificant to fans who already knew their teams would make the playoffs, and, in doing so, would produce lower ratings, which, in turn, means less money earned for the men in suits.
Such is the case in Major League Baseball. At detriment to the players and the tradition of the game, Bud Selig and Co. plan to expand the playoffs in the 2012 season.
Lincecum, though, wasn't the only one who opposed the move.
"I don't really like it. I like the format now," catcher Buster Posey said, referring to the suggested expansion. "Baseball is unique because it's such a long season. The best teams are rewarded for all the effort that goes into that. You lose some of the mystique of the playoffs [with expansion]. Like the first round of the NBA playoffs—who cares?"
The player's union retains the power to veto the expansion prior to its implementation. Expect Lincecum to be a catalyst in the movement should a sufficient number of other players share his feelings.
Michael Manbert is a reporter for SFGiantsInsider.com.
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