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Another bad Bud idea: More MLB wild cards

Bud Selig in Minneapolis on Monday (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)Major League Baseball’s commissioner sees more Wild Card teams as “very attractive.”

Just like his hairdo, Major League Baseball commissioner-for-life or until he actually retires Bud Selig comes up with some really ugly visions from time to time. The most recent concept – one he has convinced himself that “everybody” wants – is more playoff teams.

Selig was interviewed on-air by ESPN’s Dan Schulman during Monday night’s home opener for the Minnesota Twins in their new Target Field home. Here is how the exchange went, courtesy of Larry Brown Sports:

Schulman: “Do you see any change in the playoff format? Do you ever see another Wild Card team?”

Selig: “Well, I remember all the abuse I took about the Wild Card to begin with and now everybody wants more. I would like to see more. You know we only have eight out of 30 — the least number of any sport — we have the most direct playoff system. It’s something we’re going to consider. In some ways I like it, in some ways I don’t. It’s very attractive.”

In summary, “everybody” wants it and Bud sees it as “very attractive.”

I can’t help but wonder…

  • As he was prattling on, did Selig consider the weather conditions under which mid-to-late November night games might take place at Target Field?
    • Is the commish thinking of this as another possible solution to his American League East death penalty problem for the Tampa Bay Rays short of realignment? In this scenario, could three (or more?) teams from one division play their way into October (and November)?
      • Is this concept in scope for Tony La Russa, John Schuerholz and their “special committee for on-field matters?” And if so, are they bringing this idea forward, with Selig pre-testing it out on the public?
        • Could a shortened regular season, back to 154 games, for example, be a part of an expanded playoff format? What would this do to records set since the schedule increased to 162 back in 1962? Would perennial also-rans be willing to give up four guaranteed regular-season home dates with only a slightly-increased hope of reaching the post-season?
          • Is there any chance that the current system is changed substantially to give division winners more credit for finishing in first place over 162 games? Today, giving the best teams over six months of play a one-game first-round benefit is about as stupid as awarding home-field advantage in the World Series based on an exhibition game in which no one really wants to play.
            • One element of an expanded playoff format could be the addition of first-round byes. In contrast with football, where a full week off expands to two with a bye, would the idea of taking off ten days or more really offer an advantage? Baseball players aren’t used to sitting that long.

            Finally, here is the short list of issues I believe are more pressing for MLB to tackle and resolve. Of course, ideas like more post-season games have a pronounced cash-register appeal that tackling most of these problems lack: Fixing revenue sharing, instituting blood testing, cleaning up television blackout rules and solving the international problems, perhaps via a draft.

            While I have no confidence any of the above will get done anytime soon, neither do I have any expectations about Selig’s new project. After all, this is the man that brought us the concept of contraction and so many other not-ready-for-prime time ideas.

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            Brian Walton

            Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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