Major League Baseball playoffs this year have been absolutely off the charts, or so they say. The only problem is that the wrong teams competed in the Fall Classic, heretofore billed as the decisive battle of the titans in the baseball world.
The regular baseball campaign is 162 games for each of 30 teams. With three divisions in both the American League and National League, there are three strong teams that finally finish in first place, one each atop their respective divisions. These teams are the champions of professional baseball in the truest sense, but wait, now come the playoffs.
In recent years they have added insult to injury by allowing another team from each league to join their league champs in the playoffs. They claim that this provides more fan interest and universal excitement, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to expose ulterior motives that, in essence, have only served to weaken the product.
If you live by the principle that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” or if you adhere to the philosophy of predetermined destiny, then you should rejoice that two wild card teams battle for all the marbles this year. Otherwise, you should face the reality that having two “Triple A style” teams get the blessing of the baseball gods to advance to the World Series compromises quality with mediocrity, and that baseball’s biggest stage has collapsed like a lead balloon.
Some baseball pundits tell you that having wild card entries in the playoffs is actually good for the game by providing underdog teams with the opportunity to buck the odds and reign supreme. They tell you that wild card teams may prove that they can be successful in the Majors with small payrolls and might be able to show up teams with vast salary expenditures. I call this utter garbage and ask them if they had a chance to be the recipient of a complimentary season ticket (81 home games) for the team of their choice would they actually choose the Kansas City Royals over the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals.
We are no doubt stuck with this wild card idea, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot take steps to modify it. For starters, I recommend that the divisional playoff series, if involving a wild card team and a division leader, should require for advancement four wins for the wild card team as opposed to three wins for the division leader. Similarly, in the league championship series, if involving a wild card team and a division leader, should require for advancement five wins for the wild card team as opposed to four wins for the division leader. Finally, in the World Series, if involving a wild card team and a division leader, the requirement should be five wins for the wild card team as opposed to four wins for the division leader to determine the world champion of baseball.
The early morning debates at the fast food restaurant between Detroit Washington, Baltimore, St. Louis, and West Coast supporters as to which of their cities really had the best MLB team in 2014 will continue throughout the winter months, The egg and sausage combo, the pancakes with butter flavored syrup, and the senior coffee with free refills will taste the same, but the sour taste of wild-card heartburn will leave acid stomachs until sometime next spring.
As for me, I’ll spend those same winter months applauding how the New York Yankees spend heaps of money to acquire the necessary ingredients to bring back world championship honors reminiscent of the glory days of baseball past.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.