It was announced late last week that MLB will add one additional Wild Card team in each league and with the completion of the sale of the Houston Astros, they’ll move into the AL West. The Astros move to the American League will even the two leagues out at fifteen teams each, meaning we’re stuck with inter-league play with no end in sight.
Both changes are set to take place in 2013, but the extra Wild Card slot could be inserted next year for the 2012 season.
These changes are not the answer for baseball to try and dig themselves out of a hole when it comes to attracting more fans and trying to compete for ratings with the NFL.
Interleague play has ran its course and now Bud Selig is bound and determined to shove it down our throats from the start of the season. By moving the Astros to the AL West, Selig gets a balance between both the NL and AL. But the whole interleague play is washed up. When the Red Sox head to the NL in May and June, it throws a wrench into how their team plays and how the team was built. The biggest obstacle being the designated hitter.
Last year when the Sox endured a twelve game road-trip, David Ortiz who is an integral part of their offense, played in a limited amount of games. He was used as a pinch-hitter on a few occasions, but he went hitless throughout the road trip. Evidently he struggled when the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park and resumed play with the DH. Ortiz was quick to blame his lack of playing time during the National League trip.
Now this isn’t a sob story for Big Papi and why he should be in the lineup everday. Rather, it’s a point on how and why interleague play is past it’s prime. Most fans don’t like it and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts the players don’t like it either.
But Bud Selig doesn’t listen to what the fans want, rather he marches to his own beat and does what he feels is best for the game. Case in point with the additional Wild Card in both leagues.
Selig stated that the two Wild Card teams would likely face each other in likely a one game showdown with the winner advancing to join the division winners. While this would bring the total to 10 out of 30 teams making the postseason, it also means the Yankees will likely never miss the playoffs again. In all honesty, the Yankees only have to be in the top five in the AL and they’ll make the playoffs. Be in the top five out of fifteen sounds pretty achievable for a team that doesn’t rebuild, but rather reloads every year.
When you look at this past year and how both the AL and NL Wild Card positions came down to the final day, it was electric. There were four games that all had implications on the postseason and all four were dramatic right down to the last out. For Red Sox Nation it was heartbreak, but this fan can admit that the last day of the regular season was one of the best baseball days that I can remember.
Had there been an additional team this year, both the Red Sox and Rays would’ve gotten in and the last week of the season wouldn’t have been so exciting.
There will no doubt be exciting times moving forward with the two Wild Card teams, but who’s saying we can’t have that with the current setup? We just witnessed it in both leagues.
I might be a part of the minority on this decision, so I welcome all comments on how you feel about the realignment and the additional Wild Card spots.