It's amazing to me how much of a difference a couple days can make. On Monday, on Getting Blanked, I was singing the praises of the second Wild Card team, defending it from those who thought it would bring shame on the otherwise noble house of the MLB postseason.
I didn't see a problem with allowing fans of additional teams, teams who would have been out of the race a year ago, another reason to tune in, turn on, and drop in on more baseball, especially when it stole attention from football. I also didn't see how the addition of this second wildcard would unduly punish the most successful MLB teams, or why we should even care much about that. Frankly, I still don't.
But what I wasn't counting on was that Major League Baseball had put roughly as much thought into this plan as I did when I pulled a beanbag out from beneath my three-year old brother just after he'd jumped off our bar. No, they just had an idea (a good idea, I think) to add another wild card team in each league. But instead of thinking through the implications of that decision and taking the time to make sure that everything would work the way it was supposed to, Major League Baseball just pulled the beanbag chair out from under the 2012 season and figured...eh, maybe little 2012 will learn a valuable lesson about trusting his big brother.
Not only did they limit this first Wild Card round to a single game, upping the dramatic tension but reducing its general resemblance to actual baseball, but Buster Olney reported that teams will be allowed to manipulate their 25 man rosters specifically for these games (allowing them to carry just a single starting pitcher, for instance). Baseball’s postseason, then, has the potential to rival football and basketball with all the potential for in-game substitutions. You want to carry 4 left fielders? Go ahead! Wanna pinch hit for the pitcher every time the spot comes up? You can! Wanna have two extra pinch-runners for the late innings? Go for it! A 3rd LOOGY? Terrific!
Obviously, not every team will take advantage of the opportunity these rules create, but some will try to game the system and gain a miniscule edge. And that’s a problem, because it distorts the game and compromises the integrity of the regular season.
But look, if we’re really interested in making the one-game playoff so different and distinct from the game we watch 162 other times during the year, here are a few additional rule suggestions to make it more wacky for the kids:
1) Landmines: This is something my wife is always championing to make baseball more interesting. Each ballpark has one landmine hidden somewhere on the field during the postseason. Try not to trip it. Also, she'd like alligator pits, but since it's October, those cold blooded alligators wouldn't be nearly active enough to make the expense worth it.
2) Racquetballs: Baseballs are great, but they don’t fly nearly far enough. After a childhood spent hitting racquetballs out of my back yard, playing home run derby with Bill, I can say with certainty that this will be much more fun to watch. They go really far and even ground balls are way more interesting given the high and uneven bounces.
3) Golf Scoring: Each ballpark gets a “par” based on how easy or difficult it is to score there. Coors Field? Par 5. Petco? Par 3. First team to get that many runs wins.
4) Drew Butera: Each team gets a Drew Butera and must play him at all times. The challenge is to figure out where to play him where he hurts you the least. He could even pitch.
5) Roster Raiding: In addition to their Drew Butera, each team gets to take one player from a team not in the postseason to add to their roster for the playoffs. But choose your player carefully in light of rule #6:
6) Lineup Acronyms: Using the first letter of the last name of every batter, each team must spell out “Bud Selig.” This postseason chaos is truly Bud's baby, and Bud deserves some extra recognition. However, because “Bud Selig” is only eight letters, teams must choose between playing a man down, or playing someone whose last name begins with an exclamation point or a smiley emoticon.
You know, because if we’re going to make this one-game playoff ridiculous, why not go all in with it?