Baseball wants more money. Fox wants more playoff games.
The two wild-card teams in each league likely will play one win-or-walk game or maybe a best-of-three, but either way using their aces, and then the winners would immediately begin another playoff series against the team with the best record.
In theory, the new playoff format places a greater emphasis on winning the division, which, in theory again, adds intensity and drama. That’s the case mounted by Trib Baseball Columnist Phil Rogers here.
But there will be cases where the new format also hurts teams in strong divisions while rewarding teams in weak divisions that it can own early.
You can imagine three strong teams in the AL East fighting for one division title. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays want to get into the postseason, but not for a crapshoot game, so they’re using every bit of pitching.
Meantime, the Tigers, say, can rest their arms because the AL Central has no other contender for either the division or one of the two wild cards (sorry, White Sox, but you guys lowered the expectaions, not me).
In some cases, it won’t seem fair. Even before baseball officially has rolled out the plan, it is being called unfair for examples such as the one above and others.
But look, people, wise up. As long as there is any kind of wild card, it’s not fair. Unless you limit any playoff to the best team in each league, it’s not fair.
Besides, there can be no such thing as fair when payrolls are $100 million, when one league has a designated hitter while the other doesn’t, and when the Astros don’t play in your division.
And speaking of that, whatever you think of the new playoff format, it’s far better than Bud Selig’s insanely stupid plan to move the Astros to the American League in 2013, creating two 15-team leagues, and forcing interleague player every stinkin’, freakin’, bleepin’ day.
Imagine the Sox being good some year (sorry, Sox, you lowered expectations, not me) and they go into St. Louis at the end of the season but can't use Adam Dunn at DH (I said you had to imagine, as in imagine wanting Dunn in the lineup at the end of the season). The Tigers, meanwhile, are playing the Royals, who stink like always despite overhyped kids at the start of the season.
I'm telling you, the 2013 season will be a special brand of Selig stupidity, and that's saying something for a guy who turned a silly exhibition game in July into the thing that determines home-field advantage for the sport's crown jewel, an exponential extra-special brand of stupid when, again, one team can't always use its regular lineup that helped the team get to the World Series in the first place.
Back to the new playoff format. Baseball is following the money. That’s the No. 1 rule in life. But at the same time, baseball also might be minimizing the payroll differences by putting some big-money teams in a crapshoot game.
There’s no way baseball planned it this way. But how great will it be to see the Rays win the division and force the Yankees and Red Sox (sorry, White Sox, but you lowered expectations, not me) to put combined payrolls of $300 million-plus on the field with one team guaranteed to lose?
So, if you like that kind of misery, great. You might get it. If you have high hopes for Your Heroes grabbing one of those shiny new postseason spots, then I think you have more optimism than Your Heroes.
Sorry, but I just don’t think there are enough playoff spots to give us one more chance to see Alfonso Soriano strike out on three consecutive curveballs with the tying run on second in the bottom of the eighth.