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.
“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:
|Year||Second wild cards||Actual wild cards||Rewriting history|
|1995||Calif. Angels, Astros||Yankees, Rockies||Braves mow down Bagwell, Biggio as usual, still give Bobby Cox a title.|
|1996||Mariners, Expos||Orioles, Dodgers||Expos go all the way, Montreal builds downtown ballpark and stays put.|
|1997||Angels, Dodgers/Mets||Yankees, Marlins||Marlins lose wild-card playoff, Indians stand on top for first time since 1948.|
|1998||Blue Jays, Giants||Red Sox, Cubs||Yankees steamroll the Giants instead of the Padres.|
|1999||A's, Reds||Red Sox, Mets||Billy Beane's team slides in with 87 wins, takes a title in "Moneyball" era.|
|2000||Indians, Dodgers||Mariners, Mets||Dodgers knock out Mets, deny New York its Subway Series.|
|2001||Twins, Giants||A's, Cardinals||Giants, who finished two games behind D-Backs, give San Francisco its first World Series crown.|
|2002||Red Sox, Dodgers||Angels, Giants||The Rally Monkey becomes extinct, Bonds or McGwire "earn" a ring.|
|2003||Mariners, Astros||Red Sox, Marlins||Having lost early in the 1997 postseason, the Marlins capture their first World Series title.|
|2004||A's, Giants||Red Sox, Astros||A's beat Red Sox in short series, Nation keeps waiting as Yankees win it all.|
|2005||Indians, Phillies||Red Sox, Astros||The 99-win White Sox still end their underpublicized drought.|
|2006||Angels, Phillies||Tigers, Dodgers||Angels don't need a Rally Monkey as they roll to the championship.|
|2007||Tigers/Mariners, Padres||Yankees, Rockies||Rockies, Padres meet in the playoffs, Matt Holliday still doesn't touch home.|
|2008||Yankees, Mets||Red Sox, Brewers||Yankees win classic wild-card matchup with Red Sox before taking Subway Series.|
|2009||Rangers, Giants||Red Sox, Rockies||Pitching-rich Giants top the Rangers in an unexpected World Series clash.|
|2010||Red Sox, Padres||Yankees, Braves||Boston overcomes a season-long rash of injuries to break a more-than-nine-decade curse.|