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Posted at 11:53 AM ET, 04/26/2011

Another wild card is fine, but history could change

Commissioner Bud Selig wants to see a second wild card in each league, and they could be added as soon as 2012. Expect to see the requisite hand-wringing, complaining and eventual acceptance.

If and when two teams are added to the postseason, it’ll still be an accomplishment to make the playoffs. With 10 of 30 teams qualifying, the regular season would remain a rugged test that eventually weeds out undeserving teams. There is far greater probability for a division champion than a second wild card to hover at or below .500.

Terry Francona, manager of the large-market Red Sox, said last week, according to the Associated Press, he’s all for the extra wild card and then some.
The more, the merrier, says Red Sox Manager Terry Francona. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)
“I wish we were hockey,” said Francona, alluding to the NHL, which like the NBA has a postseason with 16 of 30 teams. “The more teams, the better. I can’t see how it wouldn’t be fair.”

Since the Red Sox have been a wild card seven times and would’ve made the 2010 playoffs if there were a second wild card, maybe that comment shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, a second AL wild card would’ve provided Yankees-Red Sox matchups in 2008 and 2010. That couldn’t be bad for the ratings, whether MLB decides to go with a one-game playoff or best-of-three.

But such a lightning round certainly could change history. Just for fun, here’s a list of who would’ve been extra wild cards in the 16 seasons the playoffs have had eight teams and how the baseball annals could’ve been rewritten:

YearSecond wild cardsActual wild cardsRewriting history
1995Calif. Angels, AstrosYankees, RockiesBraves mow down Bagwell, Biggio as usual, still give Bobby Cox a title.
1996Mariners, ExposOrioles, DodgersExpos go all the way, Montreal builds downtown ballpark and stays put.
1997Angels, Dodgers/MetsYankees, MarlinsMarlins lose wild-card playoff, Indians stand on top for first time since 1948.
1998Blue Jays, GiantsRed Sox, CubsYankees steamroll the Giants instead of the Padres.
1999A's, RedsRed Sox, MetsBilly Beane's team slides in with 87 wins, takes a title in "Moneyball" era.
2000Indians, DodgersMariners, MetsDodgers knock out Mets, deny New York its Subway Series.
2001Twins, GiantsA's, CardinalsGiants, who finished two games behind D-Backs, give San Francisco its first World Series crown.
2002Red Sox, DodgersAngels, GiantsThe Rally Monkey becomes extinct, Bonds or McGwire "earn" a ring.
2003Mariners, AstrosRed Sox, MarlinsHaving lost early in the 1997 postseason, the Marlins capture their first World Series title.
2004A's, GiantsRed Sox, AstrosA's beat Red Sox in short series, Nation keeps waiting as Yankees win it all.
2005Indians, PhilliesRed Sox, AstrosThe 99-win White Sox still end their underpublicized drought.
2006Angels, PhilliesTigers, DodgersAngels don't need a Rally Monkey as they roll to the championship.
2007Tigers/Mariners, PadresYankees, RockiesRockies, Padres meet in the playoffs, Matt Holliday still doesn't touch home.
2008Yankees, MetsRed Sox, BrewersYankees win classic wild-card matchup with Red Sox before taking Subway Series.
2009Rangers, GiantsRed Sox, RockiesPitching-rich Giants top the Rangers in an unexpected World Series clash.
2010Red Sox, PadresYankees, BravesBoston overcomes a season-long rash of injuries to break a more-than-nine-decade curse.

By Lacy Lusk  |  11:53 AM ET, 04/26/2011

 
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