The Merits of the Wild Card: A Scientific Treatise

Yesterday, there was 1,532 hours of baseball on television. It was glorious. Playoff games, all. The Brewers struggled to stay alive, knowing their first playoff appearance in two decades was in jeopardy, but the Phillies’ pitching was too effective. The White Sox struggled to stay alive against the Rays – the Vinny Castilla-signin’, Matt White-stealin’, Wade Boggs’s number-retirin’, sad-sack Rays, for god’s sake. An Angels win last night was going to make Angels fans happy. A Red Sox win last night was going to make Red Sox fans happy. No one really wins in a situation like that, but at least it was a good game.

So through the 1,532 hours of exciting baseball, I’m thinking one thing: Hooray for the wild-card. Sure, I would have loved to see a Rays/Red Sox end-of-season showdown for the AL East. It would have come down to the wire, and it would have been legendary. But here’s my math:

Tampa/Boston divisional race + possible Houston/Los Angeles divisional race  < Milwaukee/New York wild card race + 12 to 20 extra playoff games

That’s, like, scientific and junk. I get to watch more teams contend throughout the regular season, and more playoff games when the regular season is settled.

The grumblers are grumbling. I can hear them. "Well then, smart guy. If more playoff games is your goal, then why not expand the playoffs to eight playoff teams like basketball or hockey?" Hey, I can drop some mathemagics on that, too:

If watching a 90-win-or-better team make the playoffs = 10 fun units

If watching an under-90-win-team make the playoffs = -10 fun units

Then four playoff teams for each league in 2008 = 30 fun units (AL), and 20 (NL)
Six playoff teams for each league= 0 fun units (AL), and 0 fun units (NL)
Eight playoff teams for each league = -20 fun units (AL), and -20 fun units (NL)

Remember, fun units are tangible and tradable commodities. If you expand the playoffs to eight teams, suddenly you’re giving out more fun units than you’re taking in. Then you’re getting daily calls from fun-unit collection agencies, you’re paying outrageous fun interest…it’s a nightmare. And the equations don’t have to run on fun units to work, either. You can flip the equations around and use lameness points if you prefer. For example, under-90-win-teams that make the playoffs are worth 100 lameness points, and under-.500 teams are worth 1,000.

I see that I’ve blown you away with my non-arbitrary proof that the wild card is good. I do not anticipate any dissent in the comments section of this post, though I promise not to delete any stray anti-wild-card comments that may arise. I’ll leave them up as intellectual curiosities to study, even if they have been scientifically pillaged.

Open Wild Card Approval Thread.

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