For every wildcard we add, the assumption among many is, more drama is “added.”
But can’t we claim that for every added drama, one is taken away?
The Pittsburgh/St. Louis race carries a lot less drama for me because both teams are basically in (the loser will be a wildcard). Yes, that team has to play in the one-game wildcard round, but they’re still IN the playoffs.
Same goes for the AL West with Oakland/Texas.
Look at how many races are essentially over (most of them).
Now, just for fun, I have “reconstructed” the 1980s divisions. You know, the old four-division format.
I know the schedules would be different and they might not line up exactly the same way now, but play along with me for a second.
Boston/Detroit would be within 3 games of each other in the AL East.
Texas/Oakland would be within a half-a-game of each other in the AL West.
Pittsburgh/St. Louis would be within one-and-a-half games of each other in the NL East.
Atlanta/Dodgers would be within 2 games of each other in the NL West.
So with just four playoff teams under that alignment, we would have compelling races in 100% them.
Under the new alignment, how many of the EIGHT races are truly interesting?
Look, I get why baseball keeps adding playoff teams and rounds — money. I am not naive. And the latest round was added in part to make it more difficult on the wildcard teams to go all the way and to give teams more incentive to win their division.
But it still feels like two wrongs (the original wildcard round two decades ago and then the extra round last year) trying to make a right.
This game is all about the long haul, the grind, the 6-month journey. Until you get to the end. Then it becomes a total crapshoot.
And as a life-long fan, I miss the old true division races — winner gets to October, loser goes home. Period.