A’s, Giants get boost from new playoff format

For a while now, we’ve known that Bud Selig and Major League Baseball were going to try to fix something that wasn’t broken. Last week, they made it official.

MLB announced that a fifth team from each league will make the playoffs. Instead of one wild card, each league will have two wild card teams. Those two teams will play in a winner-take-all wild card game, with the victor moving on to face the top division winner.

If you’re a fan of the A’s or Giants, this news will make you happy because it gives your team a better chance of making the playoffs. And as everybody knows, once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.

If the new playoff structure had been in place from the very beginning of the wild card era in 1995, the Giants would have made the playoffs an extra four times (2009, 2004, 2001, 1998).

On the other side, the A’s would have qualified for the postseason an extra two times (2004, 1999).

This new system will benefit teams that play decent baseball over the long season, not the elite teams. The A’s may struggle over the next few seasons due to their massive roster overhaul, but if they catch lightning in a bottle, they could snag one of those wild card spots.

The A’s and Giants have an opportunity to reap rewards from Bud Selig’s latest brainstorm. The game of baseball, though, will suffer.

Four teams will now play 162 games over six months and have their entire season come down to one game. With the old format, once you made the playoffs, you have five games to preserve your season.

The other issue with allowing more teams into the postseason dance is a watered-down product. MLB is letting in a mediocre team into the party, a team that wasn’t good enough to win their division or have the next-best record in their league.

The beauty about Major League Baseball’s playoffs is that only the best teams get to compete for the Championship. The NBA and NHL waste our time by letting in half the teams in their league.

Every year, only a handful of those teams deserve to be crowned champions. The fifth team allowed in per league probably wont be a championship-caliber team, but they will be given an opportunity to hoist the trophy at the end of the postseason.

At the end of the day, Selig sees these one-game wild card games as a TV ratings bonanza and money-maker, even if the integrity of the postseason is compromised. The Used Car Salesman has never met a money-maker he couldn’t embrace.