Question of the Day: Is adding one more wild-card team from each league to the MLB playoffs a good idea? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun
My gut reaction was that baseball’s postseason is fine as it is and that adding an additional wild-card team in each league would simply cheapen the meaning of making the playoffs.
Then I remembered my gut reaction is usually wrong.
Since the inception of the current playoff format in 2005, wild-card teams are 17-15 in Division Series, meaning that, overall, the supposed underdog in those first-round matchups isn’t one at all. Adding an extra wild-card team in each league would not only provide teams with added incentive to finish with the best record in their league -- thereby earning a first-round bye -- but it would also provide more opportunities for competitive teams to make the playoffs and possibly knock off a division winner in the opening round.
Who wouldn’t want that? After all, everyone roots for the underdog.
[Updated at 9:31 a.m.:
Juan C. Rodriguez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
In theory, yes, but another round of playoffs poses some logistical concerns. Nobody wants to see baseball in November. To keep from making a mess of the record book, I’m not in favor of any format that reduces the number of regular season games from 162 back to 154.
Many of those who initially opposed adding wild-card teams now admit it was beneficial for the sport. More teams are playing more meaningful September games. Even those clubs that are out of it with two weeks now have more opportunities to affect pennant races down the stretch as spoilers.
One playoff scenario could pit the two wild-card teams in a three-game series, sans off days, with the winner advancing to the divisional round, which baseball should expand from a best-of-five to best-of-seven.
More playoff teams translate to more excitement in more markets, but the calendar math has to work.]
[Updated at 10:43 a.m.:
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
Bud Selig’s term as commissioner ends after the 2012 season, and on his way out the door he’ll likely have to choose between network TV executives, who favor expanded playoffs and the big bucks they will bring, and the integrity of the game, which argues against expansion.
Baseball has the most exclusive postseason tournament of any major American professional sport, with just eight of its 30 teams qualifying. Compare that with the NHL and NBA, where more than half the teams advance. Or the NFL, where 12 of 32 teams qualify. Such watered-down formulas reward mediocrity while rendering much of the regular season meaningless. If most everyone will qualify for October, why bother playing hard in July?
There are other factors to consider as well. Baseball’s postseason is already too long; why lengthen it further? And the race for MLB’s playoffs is already the most exciting in pro sports, having gone to the final day -– or beyond –- in each of the last seven seasons.
Please Bud, just say no.]
[Updated at 12:10 p.m.:
Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune
Adding two more wild cards (one in each league) is a good idea ... if you're sitting in the accounting office of MLB-TV or if you're a fan of a summer game being played in the cold of November.
Other than that, there's very little reason for it, especially if involves only a one-game playoff "play-in." Baseball never has been a one-game sport. Three games? The delay for the real playoff teams isn't fair.
Oh, sure, fans in at least two more cities will have something to be interested in during September. If that's the sole reason, why not bring four more teams into the playoffs? Or six more?
Purists were outraged at the addition of one wild-card team and have since been quieted by its success. But now, adding one more tier to an already stuffed season seems more like gluttonous overindulgence.]