More playoff teams. I've been afeared of this for a while. There was too much money at stake to keep the status quo going. In the NHL they actually fly teams in from different countries to fill the additional playoff spots the league created. The NBA always has some dreadful sub-.500 team wasting everyone's time in the first round of their playoffs. But I'm sure both leagues make a ton of money on the extra playoff games. Extra money makes for a jealous Bud Selig. So here we are.
As extra playoff teams go, this is probably the least offensive way it could have been handled. A premium is put on winning the division. The wild card is devalued. Only one additional team from each league makes the playoffs, with the term "playoffs" being defined as a single game to reach more playoffs. It's still not the NHL or NBA.
But I really hate the idea of 162 games to get to a single game. Baseball seasons are so, so, so long. Do you realize how long baseball seasons are? They're at least 12 games longer than a 150-game season. You can look that up. They are so, so, so long. There are twists, turns, injuries, births, deaths, lessons learned, governments overthrown … Jamie Moyer was still in diapers when the last baseball season started. Is that a bad example? Depends. But the point is that the baseball season is long.
A play-in game is silly after all of that. One game. Poof. Hope everything went your way. Hope the umpires didn't blow any calls. Hope your pitcher didn't mess the bed.
But the play-in game doesn't bother me as much as it did when it was first announced. In 1993, the Giants would have been just tickled to have a play-in game. They had one game, poof, nothing went their way, umpires weren't a factor because their pitchers messed the bed. These are the fourth- and fifth-best teams. They shouldn't be worried about one-game poofs. They should just feel lucky to still be alive.
Where it really annoys me is with the good teams potentially having to fight their way past mediocre teams to advance. Teams hovering around .500, even though their run differential suggests they should be well below. Any team can get hot for a series. I hate that a .500 team could challenge a 100-win team to see who goes to the NLDS. A clearly superior team should win that series, what, 60 percent of the time? If that? The playoffs aren't a strict meritocracy. There will be some undeserving and boring teams that advance deep into the playoffs. If you were annoyed with Jeff Weaver being good for a couple of weeks to allow the 2006 Cardinals to win the World Series, that sort of thing will become a lot more common. Gross.
Long article short: Until the Giants benefit from this, I'll hate it.
Well, I'll probably enjoy the hell out of it when it isn't my team in the one-game playoff. But other than that this is an enjoyable abomination, like Showgirls. You're Kyle MacLachlan, Bud Selig is Elizabeth Berkley, and it's time for a private dance. Note that this analogy doesn't make a lick of sense, but I just wanted to put the image in your mind because I don't like you.