Sixteen NBA and NHL teams, twelve NFL teams and eight MLB teams make it to their respective league’s postseasons every year. That last number could be expanded to ten in 2012 as baseball Commissioner Bud Selig stated last week that the game is moving “inexorably” towards expanding its postseason. While baseball purists are against adding two more wild cards, the time is right for the league and the news is great for the Baltimore Orioles.
Its a crime to ask teams to play 162 games and have exciting battles in September for fringe teams like the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies while the New York Yankees decide to sit their starters in a late series against the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the East. If the Yankees had the incentive of a first round bye or were forced to play the Red Sox in a survivor first round of the playoffs, then they wouldn’t afford to sit their biggest names.
In a league that already struggles with parity without the protection of a salary cap, adding two more wild cards is necessary to keep fan’s interest in smaller markets. Let’s be honest, the Orioles path to the playoffs would be a lot easier in a division out west or even in the central. With another chance to make the playoffs without winning the division, teams like the Orioles have a greater chance of winning a championship because, as we all know, all you’ve got to do is make the playoffs. Anything can happen in October.
So how do you combat the baseball purists on this topic? What do you tell the guys that hated adding instant replay, dislike interleague play, the unbalanced schedule or one wild card? Tell them to look at other sports. What was the most exciting part about the NCAA tournament this year? Without a doubt, it was the VCU Rams a team that was a part of the tournament’s new “First Four” expanding the tournament from 65 to 68 teams. And if you’re in Baltimore, you should remember that Super Bowl XXXV was won by the Ravens who entered the postseason as a Wild Card.
The time is right and adding another Wild Card in each league is perfect for the Orioles. The only question is ‘how many games do you make the series?’