I wouldn’t be surprised if Major League Baseball officials don’t sign off on a proposal to add another Wild Card team to the playoffs, a decision that could come by the end of the Winter Meetings in mid-December in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Orlando.
(Ernie Banks probably had the right idea with his mantra about “Let’s play two.)
Assuming that the powers-that-be give it their blessing, which is largely deemed a foregone conclusion, it would still have to get the OK from the players’ association, but they have already indicated they are open to the idea.
Bud Selig came off as a little smug in the Associated Press story I read about this, noting that he had been ripped unmercifully when the Wild Card plan was first approved in 1993 (and implemented two years later; you know why it was delayed).
As I’ve noted before, I think Selig’s heart really is in the right place in terms of genuinely loving the game of baseball and even in trying to preserve its integrity. He just lets a few grounders dribble between his wickets from time to time, but not for lack of trying.
“But now it’s fascinating to me,” the Commissioner was quoted on the subject of the added Wild Card. “Now they not only like it so much, they want more of it.”
Uh, huh. He’s probably got some lamebrained survey to support his assertion, but I don’t know anybody who was clamoring for another Wild Card slot. Me, I thought the system was working reasonably well, given the inherent problem that exists with teams laboring dutifully for 162 games only to run into a dominating pitcher or two or simply a smokin’ hot ball club and have it all dispensed with faster than kiss a duck.
Anyway, what makes it all interesting is figuring out the mechanics of the plan, since MLB already faces a dilemma-waiting-to-happen in staging World Series games in late October and early November.
If the new “round” of playoffs involving the two Wild Card teams in each league ends up being a two-out-of-three affair, or even a monstrosity like a one-game blood sport, the scheduling time is going to have to come from somewhere, and it ain’t easy to figure out where.
Obviously, the owners aren’t too enthusiastic about the idea of shortening the season, which is doublespeak for saying there’s no way. And there wouldn’t seem to be much wiggle room from starting earlier – or God forbid, staying later. So what’s left?
I can only assume that they’ll cover this by trimming some of the off days. I think it would be way cool if, instead of the obvious route mentioned above, they tried something genuinely inventive, like going back to the once-beloved doubleheader.
I can dream, can’t I?