Last year, commissioner Bud Selig proposed an idea of expanding the playoffs by adding a second wild-card team, giving teams a better chance of playing meaningful baseball in October. The Washington Nationals were a trendy sleeper pick to nab one of the two wild-card spots in the National League, but according to ESPN, multiple sources have reported that the process isn’t going smoothly. Due to schedule conflicts, talks have provided some complications in terms of moving scheduled games to different times.
The biggest issue is something that Major League Baseball experimented with last season and that’s ending the regular season in the middle of the week. Like last season, the last day of the regular season in 2012 is on Wednesday, not Sunday. That means that if the wild-card games are on Thursday (which ESPN’s Jayson Stark suggests), the teams involved wouldn’t have a travel day and that would push everything back. This wouldn’t be a problem if the schedule wasn’t made yet, but in an imperfect world that is known as Earth, there are scheduled games and it would be a struggle to adjust everything for two games.
The Nationals have drawn interest from the baseball media, fellow organizations, and fans because of their trio of young pitchers, a few All-Star hitters, and some guy named Bryce Harper. With the rest of the NL East (save the Marlins) getting a little weaker, the Nats could win 86-90 games this year (at best) and nab one of those two spots in a one-game playoff. But it’s all for not if this process will be delayed until next season. Talks are still going on and it’s not the idea that’s the problem, it’s time.
Regardless of when this new rule is implemented, it’s horrible for the game of baseball. Although it’s true that in terms of percentages, the number of playoff teams don’t compare to the likes of the NFL and the NHL, more isn’t always better. Just imagine if this rule was in place last year, a year when we saw epic comebacks by the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals? The excitement would be drained because regardless of who wound up 4th and 5th, the teams would play their league opponents (the Red Sox and Braves) anyway since no other teams had a mathematical shot. The outcry from fans would be outrageous if the two collapsing teams won a one-game playoff. It is what it is and “it” right now isn’t being too kind to the upstart Nats.