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A Short Discussion of Baseball's Second Wild Card


Good win last night. Kyle Lohse is pretty good. It's strange now to look back and try to remember just how much I hated that contract at the time the Cardinals signed him to it, and just how awful it seemed the first couple years. Lohse has certainly turned things around, to the point of looking like a veritable steal the last two season, even at the rather elevated price point of the latter half of his deal.

I don't have a particular wealth of time this morning to write; an unfortunate situation I find myself in all too often these days. So rather than try to hit what feels like an acceptable length (tee hee), full of what would likely be slapdash and desperate running off at the mouth (or perhaps the fingers), I'm just going to pose a simple question to everyone today.

The second Wild Card has been a big topic of discussion lately, due to the time of year we find ourselves in and the nature of the races we're now watching Mike and Mike this morning were extolling the virtues of the second spot, fellating Bud Selig for his foresight and trumpeting the fact there would be no interesting games whatsoever in the National League at all if not for this second Wild Card race. Most people seem to like the concept; even when it seems none of the teams competing for said spot want it too very badly, it creates extra drama, I suppose.

So, El Vivi Birders, what do you think of the second Wild Card? We've had most of a season to get used to the idea, to adjust to the different landscape it presents us with as the season draws near its close. Plenty of ink, both real and digital, has been spilled here and elsewhere in considering the implications and machinations intrinsic to the construct. But I'm curious as to how everyone feels about the second Wild Card slot itself as we wind down toward the end of September.

Personally, I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. It waters down a product I didn't feel needed watering, and honestly, has paradoxically made the various races less interesting to me, rather than more. The new format feels distressingly like the NBA or NHL to me, that kindergarten everyone gets a chance sort of approach to the playoffs, where even true mediocrities get a shot in the tournament. And as much as I love hockey (and I do really, really love hockey), I don't want baseball to have a big everybody-gets-in tournament. I just hate that some team's 162 game season is going to come down to a one-game playoff that resembles nothing else in the normal course of the sport. Unfortunately, no one asked me, and no one much cares about my opinion now, either.

And I say I hate it fully aware that the second Wild Card is really the only thing keeping our Cardinals' hopes for the postseason alive. If we were talking about any other year, the Cards would be just playing out the string on a failed season, too far behind the Braves to catch them (well, probably too far back; I'm sure we all remember another season the Braves seemed to far ahead...), with no real hope of playing beyond the end of the regular season. The second Wild Card has directly benefited us as Cardinal fans more than probably any other team in baseball. And I still say I hate it. I wouldn't be happy the Redbirds had failed to qualify for the postseason, but I can't say I really feel this is all that much better.

I'm not some purist who wants to go back to the two-division format, necessarily. I like the Wild Card, and I like three divisions. I like the idea of balanced divisions with interleague all season. No issues whatsoever with that stuff. But the continued dilution of the postseason field really bugs me. Maybe those things contradict each other; I feel like maybe they should. But even with all the help this newest wrinkle in the playoff picture has offered our Redbirds, I really still hate the change.

What about you?