ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Yadier for NL MVP, Wild Card Rosters, USA in WBC 2013, Triple Crown for Miggy and Scioscia to Boston?
Sunday September 30th, 2012
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Jonathan Hacohen: I am going to channel some Jose Canseco right now. No- I don’t think that I can travel to the future. Or that everyone is out to get me. But I want to send a message to the “haters”. You know who you are. The so-called baseball traditionalists that cry every time our great sport makes any kind of adjustment. Every time there is realignment, relocation, expanded rosters, playoffs…the haters scream to the heavens. They say: leave the game alone! While I love the game the way it is, without a doubt, I still feel the need for improvements. But I take them on case by case basis. The designated hitter? I say abolish the whole thing and go back to pitchers hitting in both leagues. I love the NL style of play, with real in-game decisions and strategies. But maybe that’s just me. While I may want to go back in time when it comes to the DH, I definitely look to the future on many subjects. For interleague play (assuming DH stays), I would play NL rules in AL parks and vice versa. Let’s mix it up! I say let’s increase rosters- up to 28-30 players per team. Poor attendance teams? Relocate. Expand by 2 teams to bring an even 16/16 split between leagues. From there, completely realign into 4 divisions of 4 teams each. And so the possibility of changes in baseball is endless.
Keeping that in mind, I come to a very hotly contested topic in baseball circles these days: the Wild Card. Originally set up as one Wild Card team per league, this year we have expanded to two Wild Card spots per league. Coming up on October 5th, we will see the first ever sudden death one game Wild Card playoffs. Haters simply despise these upcoming games. Is it too much change? Is it unfair to the integrity of the game and the playoffs? We could debate that one for weeks…nay… months…nay… years. But I will tell you this. If you take a look at the MLB standings as they are today, let’s reason the value of the Wild Card spots. In the NL for the last two weeks or so (more), it was a foregone conclusion that the Reds, Giants and Nats were taking the division crowns. Where would that have left the Braves? Cardinals? Dodgers? Brewers? Heck…even the Phillies and Pirates. Having the Wild Cards in place allowed fans for all those cities to remain interested and excited about baseball for weeks while their teams competing for Wild Card positions. No Wild Cards would equal many teams that would have been out of it long ago. Is that good for the game? To have fans in so many cities turned off from the game in August when they know the playoffs aren’t an option? I’m not so sure about that.
In the AL, the Orioles and A’s all still have a chance at division leads. The Angels and Rays still are very much in the playoff hunt. But no Wild Cards….would mean so many of those teams would not have had much of a shot. Unless we see total collapses, most are expecting the A’s and Orioles to face off in the Wild Card game. Considering how both have played, would you want to miss that one? Can you imagine if October came and the Braves, A’s and Orioles were not competing for a playoff position? Me neither. When I think about what we would lose by having so many of these teams going home if the Wild Card spots didn’t exist I shudder. I am not saying we should blow up the game. But before criticizing change just because its different, think about the pros and cons of the move. In this case, I say thumbs up to the extra Wild Card games. If you don’t believe me, check out the games on October 5th. They will be some of the best baseball that you will ever watch. That I guarantee.
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