That’s the word from the New York Post as both the Players Union and the owners have agreed in principle to a second Wild Card team and a one game playoff:
One person involved in the talks described that scenario as a done deal and another hedged a little by saying it is likely to play out that way, but nothing will be finalized until an entire CBA is inked.
Both sources said because there would be just a one-game playoff added, the second wild-card team could be installed as early as next year, but the new system will go into effect no later than 2013.
I’ve made no secret of my displeasure regarding the addition of more playoff teams, further weakening the importance of baseball’s 162 game regular season, and certainly am not a fan of a one game playoff being the deciding factor.
While some think a fifth playoff team would only add intrigue at the end of the season, it would eliminate the exciting races we currently have as the Red Sox and Rays would essentially have secured playoff spots, and both the Cardinals and Braves would also be in. Teams farther back have already proven, either through injuries, bad luck, or just lack of talent, that they do not deserve to be play on the larger stage.
Grant Brisbee looked at this issue last week, highlighting an issue that MLB has either not thought about or are two blinded by the dollar signs going off in their heads to care:
For the teams fighting for the fifth-best record, it’s the same mess, except now you’re dealing with teams that aren’t all that exciting. In 2005, the Mets and Marlins would have tied for the fifth spot with 83 wins. Yuck. Then they’d have a one-game playoff to get in the one-game playoff?
Or how about something like 1996 National League, where three teams would have qualified for a spot? Round-robin tournament of one-game playoffs to get to the one-game playoff? Or would a series of coin flips suffice?
Even worse is that a one game playoff will decide who continues. While I cannot argue with the excitement of a one game, winner-take-all game and the ratings it would generate, baseball is just not that kind of sport where that makes sense. Too much luck is involved on a day-to-day basis, but across a five to seven game series, fans can at least hope that the team with a deeper rotation, more effective bullpen, and better bench can outlast their lesser opponent.
The 162 game season is perfect as it usually precludes lesser teams from making the playoffs, no team can run a hot streak all the way to the playoffs. It’s why the Indians and Pirates fell from grace and why the Angels were unable to keep up with the Rangers from April to October. A fifth playoff team may mean more revenue, but it will only end up weakening the product on the field.