How’s That 2nd Wildcard Working Out For Ya?

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

When the 2nd wild card for the MLB playoffs was first announced last year, I hated the idea immediately.Yet another gimmick from a commissioner once again looking at something truly great about the game he governed (last year’s epic final day of the regular season) and taking the absolutely wrong message from it.  The fact that Selig forced the new playoffs into this year instead of waiting until next year’s realignment annoyed me even further.

So of course that new awkward one game playoff appears to be my Cardinals’ one chance at the postseason. And I’ve been paying more attention to the Dodgers and the Pirates than the Reds (likely NL Central champ) and the Braves (likely 1st Wild Card). Hmmph.

Over in the AL, Raven’s finding that the Orioles’ contention for that 2nd spot (they are a half game back before the end of Thursday’s games), makes the new system worth it:

I’m loving the second spot because my team (for once) actually has a shot at making the postseason because of it. For me, the second spot makes the race more exciting, but that could be because I have a pony in the race. There are more teams being included in the discussions around the postseason, and it now seems like more teams are fighting for those spots and really trying to win rather than throwing in the towel. I’m a huge O’s fan and even though the team has sucked for the last 15 years, they have fought hard in the waning months of the season, but that certainly can’t be said for other teams in their situation. Less teams are imploding and trading away good players because of the added spot. I feel like there’s been a lot less trading this time around and that could be because of the 2nd wild card.

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

More than once in  past years we have complained about the dull slog August baseball often becomes.  And a look at the historical standings for today’s date certainly suggests that there are more teams within striking distance of a playoff spot than in the old 4 team playoff system:

I chose 10.5 games back for the third column is because, on August 23 2011, that was how many games the St. Louis Cardinals were out of the wild card spot from which they would eventually launch their championship run. I don’t really know what that means — maybe it just shows how unlikely last year’s result actually was — but I thought it was interesting.  And if I wasn’t personally interested in the Cardinals, I don’t know that I’d care that much about who was in contention — I keep losing track of the AL wild cards. Still, this August certainly hasn’t felt boring baseball-wise.

How about you?  Are the extra wildcards affecting the way you watch baseball this season?

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