Second Wild Card Spot “A Go” for 2012

According to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association have come to some sort of agreement that will allow for the possibility of expanded playoffs beginning this season, and an announcement to that effect will come tomorrow.

At the beginning of the month, Jayson Stark highlighted some of the issues with expanding the playoffs for 2012 after the schedules had already been set. Because the dates for the end of the regular season (October 3rd) and the beginning of the World Series (October 24th) are set in stone and cannot be moved, the league had to figure out how to get the play-in games (and any potential tie-breakers) into a three week window that already needed to house the Division and League Championship series. As Stark noted, the most likely way to handle this issue was to eliminate a day off during the Division Series, so the five game sets would be played out over six days.

I’m all in favor of contracted schedules for playoff series that do more to emulate the pace of the regular season. Teams have been able to manipulate the off days in the postseason schedule to lean heavily on just a few pitchers, and a more compact schedule should make depth more valuable in the postseason. I’d consider that a good thing.

However, the regular season schedule is created with travel in mind. When a team has a cross country flight, they often have a travel day to assist them in getting to their destination, or will play a “getaway” afternoon game that gets them in the air with enough time to still get some sleep in their new city that evening. Since MLB cannot control the geographical distance between Division Series opponents, it is quite possible that we could have a first round match-up between teams 2,000+ miles apart – say, for instance, the Angels and the Red Sox. That would be problematic if the schedule for the Division Series called for games on October 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th.

You’d get two games in Boston, then a travel day to get both teams back to Anaheim before game three. But, then, you’re forced with three games in three days on two coasts, and in order to accommodate the travel needs, Game Four would almost certainly have to be a day game. And, even with that concession, you’re still forcing the teams to play a winner-take-all playoff game on the east coast the day after playing in a game that could very well last four hours on the west coast.

It’s just a one year problem, as next year they can set the schedule to incorporate a second wild card, but it will be interesting to see exactly how MLB and the Player’s Association managed to squeeze the extra wild card into a tight schedule.

For a look at how the second wild card might affect the playoff races, I recommend Dave Allen’s story from last July on the issue.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


109 Responses to “Second Wild Card Spot “A Go” for 2012”

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  1. LTG says:

    “…that will allow for the possibility of expanded playoffs beginning this season…”

    Didn’t they already allow for the possibility? Do you mean that the agreement will allow for expanded playoffs? Or is there still something that could prevent the expansion from happening after this agreement is made official?

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  2. baty says:

    “…do more to emulate the pace of the regular season. Teams have been able to manipulate the off days in the postseason schedule to lean heavily on just a few pitchers, and a more compact schedule should make depth more valuable in the postseason.”

    To me this is the most valuable aspect of the regular season that has been absent throughout post season competition.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Personally, I like the fact that teams “manipulate the off days in the postseason schedule to lean heavily on just a few pitchers.” Good pitchers and good hitters are fun to watch. Back-of-the-rotation starters and bench players, not so much.

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      • jim says:

        don larsen

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      • KDL says:

        This is a huge red herring. OF COURSE, you’d rather watch the best pitchers and hitters. Everyone does. No one is clamoring to watch a matchup of #5s. So I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.
        Unless you advocate watching good individual players over good teams. I’d rather watch good teams, though. The playoffs, as currently setup aren’t set up to find this out. They skew towards to the teams with the 1-2 punch in the rotation. If you want a star driven league that is more focused on personalities and less on the game, might I suggest the NBA?

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  3. Nik says:

    I also love the new “WC Penalty” by having the WC winner play the day before the Division Series starts. The WC team needs to be disadvantaged.

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    • 198d says:

      it’s further encumbersome to have to burn your ace in said match. really, winning the division is more important now than ever. isn’t that something that was clamored for in the past?

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      • 198d says:

        not for nothing, and apologies for replying to myself, but i’d just like to add that i’m rather indifferent either way, as the WC is generally not the weakest team to enter the playoffs. until that’s sorted, you run the risk of hamstringing the better team even moreso now than in the past configuration.

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      • Surrealistic Pillow says:

        Encumbersome? That’s a pretty sweet word. Is it like a cross between encumbering and cumbersome?

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      • 198d says:

        i think i’ve been reading too much of the internets lately (i’m looking at you, cistulli) and am losing my touch. thanks for pointing that out, though — i think the word i was after was quite possibly encumbering.

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      • Aaron (UK) says:

        However, the not implausible situation may be that the *SECOND* wild-card is known (say the Angels) while Boston & New York play the final series of the season to determine who wins the East, with the runners-up taking the *FIRST* wild-card. So they’ll be using their best pitchers in this series, and whoever loses will then possibly have to use their #3 or something against an Angels team who can set up for #1 (albeit on the road).

        This is an unfortunate quirk: generally I’m in favour of an expanded postseason. Of the major sports I think NFL has the optimal % of teams making the postseason and if MLB could ultimately get to something similar (maybe with expansion) I’d be happy: WC series of 3 games followed immediately by DS of 5, to give the #1 & #2 seeds an advantage.

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      • 198d says:

        that’s another interesting one! if you’re boston or ny, do you intentionally punt that match (hold back your ace) to set yourself up for a potential WC match? while winning the tie-breaker could reward you with the division, losing the WC game gets you bumped from the playoffs and is arguably more important. seems almost like the verlander situation last year…

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      • Ari Collins says:

        You always put your ace forward in the division game. That’s the most important game to win, since if you win that, you don’t have to play again. Yes, if you hold him back you might win without having to push him back in the LDS, but you also increase your chances of having to play a game where, if you lose, you’re out.

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  4. Tasintango says:

    I saw this one coming a while ago. Doesn’t change much for me I stop following games after the “162″ are played. It’s pure chance after that.

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    • dbake005 says:

      Pure Chance is still good baseball. JMO.

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    • Nik says:

      That’s too bad for you. Chancy or not, nothing beats playoff baseball for drama and suspense.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Okay, I’ll take the bait ….

      1. I stop following baseball as soon as the first player gets injured. Talk about pure chance. I don;t like to watch the regular season which is really a contest of who can stay the healthiest. Injuries are most often luck scenarios, and injuries are a big factor in regular season wins, and I don’t support luck-based events no matter what. *sarcasm*

      2. The most exciting sporting events are the ones where chance plays the biggest role. It’s not all that exciting to watch an event that plays out as projected. March Madness. Nuff said.

      3. You can enjoy the playoffs while also realizing that the “best” team doesn’t necessarily win the championship every year. I do it with at least 6 different sports. It’s fun.

      I would argue that the “best” team doesn’t always finish with the best regular season record either, especially when injuries play such a large role.

      Sometimes this “luck” and “pure chance” crap just runs it’s course. IMHO, we make FAR too much out of it.

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    • Dekker says:

      A pox on thee, Good Sir. I care not for the completion of these 162 “games” you speak of. My interest wanes once I learn the highest net gain of total bases earned versus total bases allowed. The proprietor of that title is the true champion.

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    • Shane says:

      Spoken like a tried and true sabre man! Oh wait it was.

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  5. dbake005 says:

    Happy. I guess.

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  6. Chuck N Chino says:

    Wouldn’t this erase the wonderful drama from last season?

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    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

      I would think it would increase the chances of drama like 2011. There will be meaningful races for the wild card spots, division crown, and best record in each league, plus 2 guaranteed one-game elimination games every year. Under the previous system the only drama was In or Out.

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    • dbake005 says:

      Or make the wonderful drama happen every year in head to head fashion?

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      • Spike says:

        wonderful drama or circus sideshow?

        Isn’t the point of a WC team to reward the best 2nd place finishing team? We often see the best 2nd place finisher with a better record than one or both of the other division winners. Now their whole season can go up in smoke on the randomness of a 1 game play-in??

        just lunacy.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      How does this eliminate teams from qualifying for the post-season on the last day of the season?

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    • DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

      I hope not, i fear we are moving towards being like the NBA

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        That seems to be the slippery slope fear everyone has and I think it’s stupid. Really REALLY stupid. 10 teams….wow, still less than any of the other big four. They’ve expanded the league and the wild card system wasn’t really all that great. Now the division title still means something and more teams fight but not so much more that it’s meaningless. If “yea it’s better, but this COULD lead to this” is your best argument against it, then you should probably do it. “You know, if I become a millionaire, I COULD become an asshole to everyone”.

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  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

    Teams travel cross-country without travel days during the regular season, and nobody other than Adiran Gonzalez complains. How often do division series go the full 5 anyway?

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  8. Dave S says:

    Eliminate travel days in the WC/division/championships. Team with better regular season record gets home field every game. End of problem. And gives the team with the better record a decided advantage… which they earned over 162 games.

    You can split games in the WS as previously.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Okay, if my team made the playoffs and it got zero home games unless it reached the World Series, there go my chances of catching a playoff game in person. Unless I fly out there.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Agreed. Like it.

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    • Spike says:

      no not every game, just HFA for the series goes to team with better record, eos. But eliminating the days off in each series is a huge deal. No reason these teams can’ play every day just as they do in the regular season. They just need to play day games on travel days.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Yeah, I don’t like the idea of the whole series being in one park, but there’s no reason to go back and forth 2-2-1 or 2-3-2. Just go 3-2 and 4-3, and eliminate the day off.

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      • Ronin says:

        Yirmiyahu has the right idea 3-2 and 4-3 all the way, the worst part about being a player is all the traveling. The worst part about following the playoffs is all the off days.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Socialism is a great idea too, but you have to get everyone to agree and get everyone to work together. So basically, much like socialism, the chances of that idea working in reality is pretty slim. I’m talking about the “0 home games” thing.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      Yeah that royally sucks for the fans of playoff teams. If your team makes the playoffs, how angry are you going to be if you don’t get to go to any of the games?

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  9. Bryan says:

    Can’t help but hope this results in a 100+ win Rangers team being sent home by the 88-win Red Sox, or something to that extent. Maybe then those in charge will realize how bad of an idea this is.

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    • Nik says:

      You mean like how a 102 win Phillies team gets eliminated by a 90 win Cardinals team? You havent thought this through yet, have you?

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      • Spike says:

        Cards did that in a full 5 game series, not a 1 game roll of the dice.

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      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

        A 100+ game winning team will not be the wildcard, so will not play a one-game playoff

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      • Spike says:

        clearly not the point, CC.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Man, this stuff gets old sometimes.

        We have the 83-win StL from 06, and now the 90-win team from ’11.

        The 2006 83-win team was basically the same team that won 104 and 100 games in ’04 and 05 (in other words, the best team in baseball). Injuries were the only reason that team didn’t win ~100 games again. They got healthy right before the playoffs started.

        The 2011 Cardinals at the time of the playoffs were, IMO, equally talented to the Phillies. The roster that the Cards had in October was not the same as the one in April. Had StL played the whole 2011 season with the October roster we might be looking at a 95+ win team.

        It just kills me that at a sabermetric website few really look past (or delve deeper) into things like overall team wins.

        Frankly, I’m getting tired of the Cardinals taking crap because other teams don’t take advantage of situations where StL is severely limited by injuries and/or bad bullpens.

        —————————-

        Okay tantrum aside I know what you’re saying and I generally agree. The one thing I do like about the WC is that it does allow a really talented team to experience some injuries and still get healthy at the end of the year and qualify for the playoffs.

        I prefer the 80s format, but could support a 2 leagues, 1 division per league, balanced schedule format, only 1 team per league (division winner) goes to playoffs, make it an 11-game WS.

        It’ll never happen due to the revenue generated by playoffs. I just don’t want to see playoffs continue to grow without a reduction of the regular season. One cannot have both a long regular season and long playoffs. If we’re going to add a round of playoffs, I’d like to see the regular season be reduced to 144 games or 152 games.

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      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

        Your point in invalid, Spike.

        If a 100+ win Rangers team is playing the wildcard game, that means there was a better team in the AL West who deserves an advantage more.

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      • Steve says:

        Stop complaining about losing to the Cards, Philly fan.

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      • Spike says:

        Seems like CC contradicted himself there…

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      • TerryMc says:

        The 2001 wild-card winning A’s had 102 wins.

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      • The Nicker says:

        Yeah CC, that rotation featuring Jeff Weaver, Anthony Reyes and Jeff Suppan was actually really awesome and not just really lucky. Whining about playoff results is dumb, but let’s not kid ourselves into believing the Cards were a 100 win team in 2006 without injuries.

        Injuries, by the way, matter.

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    • KDL says:

      A couple of you seem to be missing the point.
      After 162 games team A is up 10+games in the standings. (Even if it’s as small as 3 what I’m about to write holds true.) If Team B wins a 1 game playoff they a) pull one game closer, and b) should really be a number of games behind them. 1 game in baseball is comparable to less than a quarter in the NFL season. Would anyone advocate a playoff system where 10 minutes decided who advanced in the NFL playoffs? No. So why stand for it in baseball?
      Now…before you start putting words in my mouth…I am okay with 5 and 7 game series (happier with 7-games), because despite a season record that may be disparate…5 and 7 game series come closer to fairly figuring out which team is better head to head. So we can throw regular season records out the window, since the head-to-head mathcup is fairer.

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      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

        I agree that this new WC system is inherently unfair to the WC teams. I just don’t think it is a bad thing.

        I think it is a greater injustice that a team who wins their division, or has the best record in their league, receives no advantage in the playoffs. Since it would be difficult to grant them an objective advantage (allow them to carry 30 players?) the next best thing is to set the opponent at a disadvantage, which this system certainly will.

        There will always be statistical outliers that will magnify the unfairness in any system. The fact that TerryMc had to go back 11 year to find an example of this system penalizing a spectacular team shows how good it really is. While I feel bad for those 102-win WC A’s from 2001, I think it would have been more important to reward the 116-win Mariners for their season. They earned it. And it should make the races more interesting in September

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    • DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

      Yup, what they needed to do was make the LDS best of 7 instead of adding more playoff teams. Heck get rid of the LDS altogether.

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      • Spike says:

        actually, they should make the LDS and LCS both 5 games series with NO DAYS OFF. That way you’d get a truer result of who has the better 25 man team since they’d have to go at least 4 starters deep and maybe a 5th.

        Then have only the WS a 7 game affair, which makes it more special.

        And obviously HFA should go to the team with the better record in each series.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Why in God’s name would you get rid of the LDS all together? That way you have THIRTY teams with only FOUR spots? Why? Nostaliga? Because that’s how baseball used to be (and with a lot less teams)? That’s a horrible idea.

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  10. PE says:

    Dave, is there a $/WAR analysis for this yet? Really looking forward to the table.

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    • Nik says:

      Dont forget to subtract the scientifically accurate .5 wins per season.

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      • PE says:

        AND the 5% annual inflation figure!

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      • Jason B says:

        You are NOT allowed to question those assumptions!! They are etched on stone tablets back at the corporate headquarters (a/k/a ‘mom’s basement’) . Mortals aren’t allowed to even look upon them.

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    • Shane says:

      It seems like every column I read, someone wants a $/WAR estimate. I love war don’t get me wrong. When Bill James came out with win shares I was all over it. When Dave and his former colleagues figured out WAR estimates I was on it like flies on shit. But for cryin out loud does every article need $/WAR estimate. I’m not even sure how useful one would be cause I think we start losing some of the linear value of WAR when we get up into the difference between the 1 and 5 team in each league.

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  11. sc2gg says:

    The big winners in this announcement – The Rays (well, ok, sometimes the Red Sox) and the Blue Jays, aka the “We Win Other Division” yearly award winners.

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    • Steve says:

      That’s probably the whole reason this was done. The AL East.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        There’$ another $ignificant rea$on that the league keep$ adding playoff team$.

        I’m doubtful that the league keep$ adding playoff team$ so that another AL Ea$t team, e$pecially if it i$ TBR, can make the playoff$.

        They keep adding team$ becau$e [1] it keep$ more team$ into contention during the end of the regular $ea$on when $ome of the fan$ are leaving for Madden and football, and [2] playoff game$ are profitable, very profitable.

        It’s all about money. It were just about rewarding the 2 best teams in the world series, then we’d go back to the 1 division per league format where the division winner goes to the world series.

        If mlb wanted to accommodate or play favorites to the ALE, they’d just throw all of the teams into one division and play a balanced schedule. Force TEX, LAA, and DET to play NYY, BOS, etc the same number of times that the ALE teams do … and then take the top X# of teams to the postseason.

        You cater to regions by having small divisions so that “somebody” from the region has to make it … otherwise MLB might just bold down to ALE v. NLE due to resources. Heck, I say we divide MLB into 2 leagues [1] EAST, [2] WEST and let the teams slug it out with the other teams in their area.

        Let NY, PHL, BOS, etc battle it out all year long, and the teams west of say Ohio do the same thing.

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      • sc2gg says:

        I don’t quite understand what you’re getting at here. So you’re saying that MLB hates the Rays?

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      • Aaron (UK) says:

        And the Marlins/Nats.

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  12. Bryan says:

    There have been 100-win wild card teams before, and several 94+ win wild cards. And with the Angels and Rangers so strong, this seems like a season in which it could happen again. I’m sorry, but I can’t support a system where a team could potentially finish with the second best record in baseball and go home after one postseason game.

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    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

      How about a team with the third-best record in baseball not getting to the playoffs at all? Or the team with the best record in baseball entering the playoffs with no real advantage over their 8th place opponent?

      I would love to see them scrap divisions altogether and let the #4 and #5 team in each league duke it out in the 1-gamer, but if that is not going to happen (and it is not) this seems like the next best thing.

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    • mdecav says:

      You mean like the 1980 Orioles or the 1993 Giants?

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  13. MikeS says:

    Heres a fun scenario:

    Yankees win the East, Rangers win the west, Tigers win the central. Red Sox sew up the first WC. Angels and Blue Jays end the year with 87 wins. The Rays, finishing the year at home, have 86 but in their lone trip to Oakland in August they had a rainout. They have only played 161 and could make it a three way tie for the last WC. They fly to Oakland and win. Now you have a tie for the last spot with Toronto, LA and TB. because of the coin flips or however they determine where the game gets played the next game is Toronto vs TB so they fly back east. After winning that one they have to fly to LA to see if they are a playoff team. If they win they get to fly to Boston for the right to fly to Texas and actually start the playoffs.

    It gets even worse in the NL where you could substitute three California teams with San Diego, LA and SF could play musical planes with Philly, NY and Washington or Miami. Don’t even get started on a four way tie.

    Sure, it’s unlikely but records typically follow a Gaussian distribution so the more you migrate into the middle of the pack the more likely you will have some kind of play in game to the play in game or even a three way tie. I pointed this out this morning on hardballtimes.com and it would have happened as recently as 2007 when the Tigers and A’s would have had to play game 163 to determine who was in the playoffs. In 2008 because of rainouts the White sox had to defeat Cleveland in game 161 to force a makeup of a rainout against Detroit for game 162 and win that to force game 163 against the Twins so they could fly to Tampa and face the Rays in a best of 5. It was exciting as a White Sox fan and all the games were in Chicago until the actual playoffs started but all the other AL scheduled had to be adjusted while it played out and the travel could have been much worse.

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    • JeffMathisCera says:

      Agreed. That was very fun.

      As long as that doesn’t happen this season things should be all right though. They can build in an extra day or two in to the schedule for next year and beyond.

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    • reillocity says:

      I stopped reading at “Yankees win the East”. The best case scenario is clearly the Yankees being the AL top-seeded wildcard. Then, obviously, the second-seed wildcard eliminates the Yankees in the one-game playoff, and the network heads can then berate Bud Selig over his brilliant plan that effectively reduced the number of Yankees 2012 postseason games from 3 or more down to just one.

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    • Shane says:

      Yeah MikeyS Yeah! Thats SWeeeeet. DATZ how we be rollin up in here! I like it, I like it alot.

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      • Breadbaker says:

        Pretty much what you’re positing almost occurred in 2000, when the A’s “won” the AL West by playing one fewer game than the Mariners. If the Indians had won one more game, the A’s would have had to make up their game with the Rays (in Tampa) and if they lost, there would have been a tie for both the AL West and the wild card.

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    • Ronin says:

      I like your scenario but you should have added a delayed flight due to snow storm somewhere in there.

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      • MikeS says:

        I like the way you think. The first World Series that competes with Thanksgiving football. Hopefully played by northern teams.

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    • Tim says:

      Average rainfall in Oakland for the entire month of August is one-tenth of an inch.

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    • bstar says:

      Here’s another interesting scenario:

      With a few days to go in the season, The Braves and Phillies have emerged as the two best teams in the NL and are tied with 98 wins for the NL East lead. The surprising Reds have clinched the NL Central with 90 wins, and the D-Backs repeat their 2011 performance and also have the NL West crown sewn up with 91 wins. The Marlins have 89 wins and also have the 5th wild card spot clinched.

      The problem? The two teams with the best records have to fight tooth and nail, possibly to the final day and beyond, to stay out of the one-and-done one game playoff. Meanwhile, the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th seeded teams are afforded the luxury of resting their regulars and setting up their rotation perfectly for the playoffs, but Atlanta and Philly are penalized for being in the same division and are not given the ability to rest and prepare their rotations.

      The 2010 AL is a good example. The Rays and Yankees had the two best records, but the Twins, Rangers, and 5th wild card winner Boston would have been able to rest for the playoffs. Once again, this penalizes the two teams with the best records.

      Still, despite this objection, the ability of a few more teams staying in the playoff hunt later into the season is a tremendous boon that can’t be ignored. Playoff expansion was inevitable, but I do believe every time you increase the playoff pool, you devalue the regular season every time.

      Once MLB expands to 32 teams, I fully expect baseball to soon adopt a 6-team per league format, with 4 divison winners(consisting of 4 teams each) and two wild cards, exactly like the model the NFL has right now. Again, it’s inevitable, but having 10 and then possibly 12 teams in the playoffs makes the whole damn thing even more of a crapshoot.

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  14. Shane says:

    How about this for the division series. The team with the worse record gets two games at home then have to go on the road for the last three games with one day in between game 2 and three. I realize people don’t like the idea of the better team starting out on the road but I think its a reasonable fix for a year. The TV stations can still stagger the starts of the different series (Which you know they will insist upon) and we can figure out a better solution next year.

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    • Spike says:

      since there isn’t much advantage to HF in baseball I think the big issue comes into play when it’s a game 7 (or 5) and the team with the worse record gets to play in their home park…. when there is no tomorrow that HF might matter…. like the injustice the Cards were afforded this year bc of the idiotic Selig AS game rule.

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  15. Jim Lahey says:

    Doesn’t the WC team get double F’ed by having to play the 163 play in then play the DS with no travel days… Don’t imagine a lot of WC teams will do well in this format

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    • KDL says:

      Yes…but I wonder if it has the desired effect at the top. Part of this push, allegedly, is to give more advantage to the top-seeded division winner. But often enuogh the WC is the 2nd best team. So either the top-seed gets stuck playing the toughest possible opponent in the fist round. Or one of the other division winners reaps the benefits of this quirky money-grab…er..playoff setup.

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  16. DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

    I don’t like it, but i realize MLB is trying to keep up with the NFL and/or NBA in attention/money. I would sooner get rid of playoff teams since having seen my Dodgers sweep the Cubs and Cardinals in the LDS where i didn’t feel we had the better teams, i started leaning toward the old school anti-WC crowd. (Too young to have seen a postseason that didn’t have a WC)
    I don’t want to see the game suffer, nor do i want to see this Dodger team with 80 wins back in to the playoffs and possibly secure Ned Colletti as GM with the new owner because “see he made the playoffs 5 times with the organization, he’s fantastic!” Yiiiiikkeesss

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  17. MikeS says:

    Another thought. What does this do to the trade deadline. In any given year, approximately 95% of teams will either feel they have a shot or will be afraid of eir meatball fans that feel thy do. That hurts teams in the middle who should be selling but will be mortgaging the future to take a shot. As soon as some 82 win 2nd WC wins it all the pressure I’ll only be worse.

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  18. Jamie says:

    If I were a free agent this off season I would be pissed that it took them this long to announce that this was going to happen. This could have a pretty substantial impact on salaries as potentially many more teams could be in the race. Any team that thinks might be somewhere around .500 would have a lot of incentive to add 2 or 3 wins, thus a guy like Edwin Jackson may have fared better if it was known this was going to happen.

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  19. Dan says:

    So your team maybe gets the 1st WC spot with possibly the 2nd best record in MLB. Then in the playoff game, perhaps your team gets some sort of freak-error-strewn shellacking in the 1st inning, and therefore a whole season of dominance is erased by one inning of bad luck? It would reinforce the idea of the playoffs becoming a lottery, and would diminish the feeling of achievement for getting into them.

    Thus it seems like it would make a fan of any team that is not going to win their division less happy and optimistic than the previous system.

    Maybe instead, to follow previous crazy schemes for the playoffs (WS home field advantage), why not have every team have a representative at the Home Run Derby, and then grade them, and the ranks for this would decide between the WC contenders?

    Then bingo, you’d have – ‘The Home Run Derby – this time it matters!’.

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  20. JWO says:

    This is a bad idea. Period.

    I know what Bud Selig is trying to do. Let’s not kid ourselves – he has two objectives.
    1) Increase revenue for MLB by squeezing two more teams into the post-season
    2) Punish the Wild-Card team

    I’ve now read enough articles to realize this move is perilous and may have some big unintended circumstances. I can’t wait until we get two 97-win teams duking it out in a one-game qualifier for the right to play an 88-win team in another division during the playoffs. Heh.

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    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

      Frankly, your hypothetical sounds awesome. I can’t wait to see it.

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    • Spike says:

      is that even possible? doesn’t the WC team go against the team with the best record in the LDS? unless it’s the same division? Are they keeping that “division rule” in place as well?

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      JWO, I can’t wait until a team wins in a crappy division and makes the playoffs while another team is “just .500″ in a division with 3 teams that average 92 wins….o wait.

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  21. Snowblind says:

    If this occasional tinkering with rules and formats continues, we’re going to see a season before Selig moves on where a team with a losing regular season record manages to win the World Series.

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    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

      That possibility has existed for some time. You don’t HAVE to be good to make the playoffs, just better than the other teams in your division. Once you are in, anything can happen.

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    • Captain Obvious says:

      It could have happened in 1994. Texas led the AL West and was 10 under when the season ended.

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  22. Nevin says:

    Make games 3 and 4 a double-header, with another travel day before game 5.

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    • Nevin says:

      that reinforces depth not just in the rotation but in the bullpen, and serves as a slight nod to the “home” team with the better record or win of a coin flip if the records are the same (because they won’t have to be faced with choosing to spend a valuable reliever in Game 3 instead of saving for the nightcap).

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  23. cwj says:

    I like it. Now the Nats have a legit shot at making the playoffs!
    A shame though that Strasburg won’t get to pitch.

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