Joe Knows

Courtesy of a product from Milwaukee, I, like many Gannon students I assume, will celebrate the end of this week Friday by getting wild.

Wild Card that is.

For the first time Friday, Major League Baseball will unveil a new wrinkle in its playoff format that will allow a second Wild-Card team the opportunity to advance to the Divisional round after a one-game playoff with the first Wild-Card team.

Sounds logical, exciting, fun, all of the above? Give credit where it’s due.

For all his shortcomings, his apprehensions in standing up to the players’ union and despite his best attempts to merely hand the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels of the Major Leagues the World Series trophy every year, Bud Selig deserves a nod on this one.

But for most fans, this hadn’t become so clear until the American and National league standings did the same recently. Just two weeks ago, when seven National League teams within 4 ½ games of each other were vying for just the two spots, it appeared as if the addition threatened to subtract from our normal late-September routine.

A plethora of undeserving teams threatened to water down the playoff field and compromise the parody that makes baseball’s postseason the most selective and prestigious among all the professional sports.

Funny how things sort themselves out so quickly.

Not only did the teams in position for the second Wild Card systematically crumble and bow out, deciding the playoff picture by this weekend, but it is now apparent that the presumptive Wild-Card teams — the Athletics and the Orioles — as well as the Braves and Cardinals have established themselves as elite in their respective leagues.

Baltimore has 92 wins and is within inches of topping the Yankees in the AL East while Oakland’s 92 wins heading into Tuesday night are better than the Central champion Tigers.

Opponents of the rule argue that teams that have a markedly better record when compared to the second Wild-Card team — this year’s Braves — shouldn’t be subjected to an extra game, let alone one in a winner-take-all format.

Count me as one of the opponents in this case.

But baseball needs more regular-season finishes like that of the 2011 season, which have been far and few between. Too often the first-round matchups are filled in the postseason brackets entering the last week of the season. Lackluster finishes like these have justified the creation of the second Wild Card.

So, well done, Bud.

Now all we need to do is work on those revenue sharing and PED things.

 

JOE CUNEO

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