This long-talked-about expansion of Major League Baseball's playoffs could be incorporated as soon as this coming season. The new format will expand the Wild Card to a pair of additional teams, one each in the American and National Leagues. The two Wild Card teams will meet in a one-game playoff prior to the three-tiered postseason, which will remain the same. Are you following me? Good! The only good thing about this is that the Washington Nationals have a better chance of making it to the playoffs now, but it also means that 10 of the 30 teams will be in the playoffs. It kind of makes it not-so-special anymore if 1/3 of the teams can make it to the postseason.
The expanded playoffs are linked to the sale of the Houston Astros to some rich guy named Jim Crane and their move from the NL to the AL, effective for the 2013 season. The Commissioner's Office and the MLB Players Association collaborated on those developments during some collective bargaining negotiations, and I must say, I don't really care in which league Houston plays. If Texas fans want both their teams in the scaredy-cat league where the pitchers are too sensitive to bat for themselves, then that's their problem. This does mean that the Astros' shift from the NL Central to the AL West will give each league 15 teams, with five clubs in all six divisions. That actually makes sense now that I think about it, because in the past few years, the AL West only had four teams and the NL Central had 6, while the other divisions each had five. So now every division will have 5 teams and it will look much nicer and more even in the newspaper and on the Internet when we look at the standings.
Adding another Wild Card addresses a common point that baseball players like to bring up, which is that teams dominating over 162 games should be rewarded more and teams clinching a berth at season's end should have a greater obstacle. Sorry, I'm not buying that. If your team wins 100 games in a season but is not first in its division, then too bad. I bet you it was the owners of the Red Sox who came up with that idea, since they would have been in the playoffs this year if they had instituted this expanded Wild Card thing. Those Red Sox fans just can't settle for 2 World Series championships in the past 7 years, can they?
So there you have it (if I haven't lost you already). 15 teams in each league, 5 teams in each division, one 1-game Wild Card for the loser teams, best-of-five Wild Card games for the good teams, one League Championship Series per league and one World Series. If you're still lost and just can't wrap your head around it, just keep reading my blog and come October I will tell you for which team to root. In the meantime, keep reading the newspapers along with me while we play "Where in the world is Albert Pujols going to end up?".