I Hate the New Playoff Format

So this stupidity is happening.

Under the new format, the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in each league -- the wild-card teams -- will meet in a playoff, with the three division winners awarded a first-round bye.

1) So to "solve" the problem of the Wild Cards having it too easy and winning the division not mean enough, MLB wants to.... add a Wild Card team.

2) The divisions are frequently not equal. The divisions have no intrinsic meaning. They are random semi-geographic groupings of convenience. What, pray tell, should winning the "AL Central" actually mean? Regional pride? The ability to establish tariffs on the Mississippi? A key to the Quad Cities? Is it too much to ask that we seed the playoffs according to record, even the screwed up, imbalanced schedule we're currently using?

2A) Divisions are often likely to fall into uneven power matches because as noted above, they're essentially arbitrary divisions and the internal competition dynamics pull divisions internally towards increased competition and mediocrity.

3) The argument that the additional playoff slots will get more teams involved is worthless. Sure, so will adding ten playoff teams. I'm sure a one game series will be exciting. So would a one inning series. So would a home run derby to decide the thing.

4) You know what's really being devalued in the Bud Selig Era? The regular season, for everyone. Forget the sanctity of winning a division. Baseball was once unique because even making the playoffs was a very big deal. The regular season mattered, all 162 games of it, in some cases. You know what may have once meant something? Since we're on the subject.... winning the AL West when there were seven teams in the division instead of FOUR or heck, winning the American League when that was all there was.

4A) Seriously, we had a division with 4 teams, when most others had 5 and the NL Central had 6 and no one thought this was a problem? And these are the folks that want to lecture us about the purity of the game?

So, as always, we have the false solution to yesterday's war. Although, because this is baseball, this isn't even yesterday's war, it's the day before yesterday's war. In 2010 the Yankees and Rays didn't care who won the division and here we are. Nevermind that in 2011, we enjoyed one of the greatest days in baseball history in this current format (a day that would have absolutely been meaningless in the new rules). I hate the notion that the NCAA tournament is some sports Venus that I must bow before. It's random noise. An unbroken bracket like that, all single elimination, is great for manufactured drama, terrible for deciding anything.

All those glorious paeans to one-game playoffs and dramatic October clashes mattered not because the playoffs are inherently magical and all that matters (the horrible side effect of the glorification of the clutch myth) but because the six month journey of the season, the daily grind of 162, had to be endured and experienced by the parties in question. I know as the fan of a mediocre (hopefully!) team, I'm supposed to praise the Lord at this news. Really though, I just hate to see so much irrationality and a betrayal of the sport's essence wrapped in the flag of progress when really it is just a cash grab. Baseball has completely lost the plot.

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