Joe Posnanski wrote a great post recently on Bud Selig and his claim to believe the long-since disproven tale that Abner Doubleday invented baseball, a post which began as follows (with considerable abridgment here because Posnanski is a fantastic writer but good lord, the man is not concise — and you should really go read the whole thing):
Look, I like Bud Selig. Veteran readers of this blog will know that when I start that way — with “I like Person X” — that usually follows with me attempting to then skewer Person X. Well, I can’t help it. I do like Bud…
…So, because I like Bud, I just kind of shook my head sadly when I saw Tommy Craggs’ story at Deadspin, the one where he prints a Selig letter that calls Baseball’s Easter Bunny* Abner Doubleday the “Father of Baseball.”
Joe Posnanski is a nice midwestern fellow. I am not, so I’ll begin my post a little differently: I do not like Bud Selig. He probably does love baseball, as Posnanski asserts, and good for him. But he’s also fond of collusion, allergic to taking responsibility for his role in any of baseball’s problems, rigidly opposed to any change that does not directly lead to profits for the owners, and in favor of any that does. It doesn’t help that he possesses the sense of humor and charisma of a damp cauliflower. And then to find out that the freaking Commissioner of baseball believes a silly, baseless fable about how the game he represents came into being… sure, Bud. And the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, and the internet is powered by magical fairy gerbils.
When I read about Selig’s statue going up outside Miller Park this summer, my first reaction was to hope that, in my next life, I might come back as a Milwaukee pigeon.
Anyway, I bring this up now because Selig has been talking about a plan to expand the playoffs and add another Wild Card team in each league, and according to an article in USA Today this morning, many of the GMs at this week’s meetings in Florida are in favor of the idea. And I, although I do mostly like the Wild Card, and give Selig credit for adding it, am not.
Selig plans to address the possiblity of adding one wild-card team in each league to the postseason at this week’s general managers’ meetings. That would create 10 playoff teams. The two wild-card teams would play a first-round series — likely in a best-of-three or one-game tiebreaker — while the six division winners would have a first-round bye.
Obviously the “best” team doesn’t win the World Series every year, whether you go by overall record or overall hitting and pitching stats – and that’s fine; the playoffs would be pretty boring otherwise. But one wants, at least I want, the best teams competing. The San Francisco Giants were not the best team of 2010 by any measure I’d use, but they were a team with legitimately great pitching and I enjoyed watching them win. The 2006 Cardinals, however, were (in my view) a pretty mediocre team that got hot at the right time (Jeff F****** Weaver pitching like Cy F****** Young, do not even get me started)… and that’s okay too, it was all fair and aboveboard, but I wouldn’t want a team much worse than that winning the World Series. When you play 162 games the weight of your record should mean something.
Moshe over at The Yankee U just put up a post expressing similar concerns. I appreciate the Wild Card because it adds spice to the last months of the season and gets more cities, and more fans, involved til the end. But I think already it rewards mediocrity more than one would want in an ideal world, and I don’t think baseball should push it any further.
Am I just being reactionary here? I don’t think so – I support changes like instant replay; I’m not a purist. But this seems like a cash-grab to me.