It seems as if there is little opposition from Major League Baseball's owners and general managers to the idea of adding two extra wild-card teams to the postseason.
And why would there be?
With each league adding a fifth playoff team, there would be an extra round of playoff baseball, most likely a three-game series to decide which teams move on to the divisional series. That means extra revenue for an otherwise non-playoff team and extra TV coverage for postseason baseball. It's a no-brainer for those who stand to benefit financially from the sport.
But what about the fans, the people who pay to watch baseball? Will an extra playoff team actually make the baseball season more interesting or intriguing?
The answer is that it won't, and it's because the best part of the MLB postseason is its exclusivity. October baseball has a certain prestige to it that no other sport's playoffs have, because a mere eight teams have the opportunity to take part in it every year.
Unlike other sports, simply making the MLB postseason is a win in itself for most clubs. The fruits of a 162-game season are rewarded to the team that is best prepared for the long haul, both mentally and physically.
Consider the 2010 Red Sox, a team that was tossed and torn with injuries more so than any Boston club in recent memory. The Sox entered the year as an AL East favorite, but finished with 89 wins, six games behind the Yankees for the final playoff spot.
Had the new rules been in play this year, the Red Sox would have made the postseason. But ask any fan who watched the Red Sox struggle all season, and not too many would say the team was worthy of a trip to the playoffs.
Need another example? This time consider the National League in 2010, where the Padres missed out on the postseason in an epic late-season collapse. San Diego finished the season with 90 wins — very impressive, but not good enough to top San Francisco's 92 wins in the NL West or Atlanta's 91 victories for the wild card.
The Giants-Padres-Braves three-way race down the stretch was one of the best stories of the year because it was a nail-biter right down to the final out of the final day of the season, but if there were an extra wild-card team, all three would have wrapped up a berth with two weeks to go in September.
While the MLB postseason is played in October, its natural exclusivity makes for amazing Septembers. With the new rule, there won't be any more 2007 New York Mets. A one-game playoff like "Game 163" between the Tigers and Twins in 2009 will become almost obsolete. And far too often, non-worthy teams will back their way into sports' greatest spectacle.
If the objective of every major league team is to make the postseason, then making that goal easier to accomplish only makes the sport duller. The baseball season is a seven-month marathon with a sprint to the finish. Why turn it into a steady jog?
Do you think expanding the MLB playoff field is a good idea? Leave your thoughts below.
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