Here's to the wild cards
August 16, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, has convinced his owners and the players to add an extra wild card team to the playoffs, so now five teams per league will qualify. Not only is this terrific for the fans, but Selig also wisely managed to make it so that the wild card teams engage in a one-game showdown for the privilege of being the team that joins the three division winners in the battle for the league championship.
I have just the old-fashioned word for this new-fangled development: nifty.
But, as we might expect, the diamond fundamentalists have thrown a conniption fit. It's simply not fair, not the American way, to play 162 games and then have your fate decided by one lousy itty-bitty game.
Well, here's the answer: while regular seasons in any sport are, by virtue of their great length, pretty fair, playoffs are not meant to be fair. They're meant to be popular. These are games they're playing, my friends, not mathematical equations they're proving. If all playoffs did was validate the winner of the regular season, then what would be the point? For my money, it would be even better if there were even more playoff teams and more playoffs that were just one game, winner take all. It's more exciting, and, face it: the regular-season champion is rarely going to win anyway.
Just look at this past year. The Cardinals won the World Series even though they didn't qualify for the wild card till the last day of the season. But then, in this century, two-thirds of the World Series have included also-rans from the sanctified regular season. The New York Giants won the Super Bowl even though they'd finished the regular season at 9-7. The Kings took the Stanley Cup as the eighth and lowest seed in their conference.