It appears that major league baseball will be implementing the controversial change to the playoff system as early as 2012 if Bud Selig’s recent comments are any indication.
From the Chicago Tribune:
“I really believe we’ll have the (extra) wild card for this year,” Selig said Friday at SoxFest. “Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card.”
“We’re working on dates right now,” Selig said. “It looks to me like we’ll have it, because I’ve told everybody we have to have it. It will be exciting. A one-game playoff and it will start the playoffs off in a very exciting manner.”
The disgruntled Jays fans that still haven’t recovered from giving the bad bodied DH Prince Fielder a key to the city of Toronto also seem to forget this little nugget. The biggest complaint over the past decade (and longer) has been the unfair competitive landscape in the AL East, and adding an additional playoff team is bound to help the Jays in the coming years.
If you are not familiar with the new rule, the expanded playoffs will give us five playoff teams in each league – three division winners and two wild cards. The two wild card team face-off in a one-game elimination, and then followed by the usual playoff format. This has to be viewed as good news for a team in the Jays current situation.
Will it make the journey to the playoffs easy? Far from it, the American League is deep with perennial contenders coming from New York, Boston, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Texas and Los Angeles. This will give rebuilding clubs like Toronto, Minnesota, Oakland and Kansas City a bit of hope but it still guarantees nothing for any club without a very solid season.
For those wondering I decided to look and see how many times the Jays would have been a playoff team in the new five team format per league since they last made the playoffs in 1993. They were actually close in a few years but would have only finished in the top five in 1998 (88-74).
To be fair and also put a bit of a positive spin on the above data as this on the surface doesn’t inspire confidence going forward. The new rules weren’t obviously in place and if they had been I think it is safe to assume the Jays would have run their business slightly different and more aggressively trying to field a winning team to finish within that top five in the American League.
Yahoo baseball blog Big League Stew let his feelings be known, he is not a fan of the new system at all. What do you guys think? Do you like it overall, like it only for the Jays current situation or dislike it entirely?