There is a significant amount of buzz in baseball circles revolving around certain issues that could be ratified during the new CBA agreement that gets hammered out before the 2012 season. One of the main topics of discussion certain to get attention is realignment - a possible precursor to playoff expansion.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal warns us "to be careful what we wish for" when it comes to an expanded playoff field. Rosenthal discusses one expansion scenario that would add two wild card teams - one in each league. His stance is that adding another wild card team to each league's playoff field is no more fair than the system Major League Baseball currently has.
This season, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees - the current wild card leaders - are substantially superior than the teams that would be vying for the final playoff spot. So, hypothetically, is it fair for the Atlanta Braves to play a clearly inferior team - let's just say the San Francisco Giants for this example - and have to face off in a one-game playoff or a three game series? Not really.My only thing with Rosenthal's piece is that he's focusing on one year. This just hasn't been the season for exciting playoff races. We've seen seasons with much tighter playoff races throughout the majority of the season. An expanded field could work in those scenarios - in theory at least. Rosenthal does recognize that 2011 is just one season and a tiny sample and he concedes that more playoff spots has the potential to increase excitement around the game - never a bad thing.
The system may not be perfect as it is, but there likely is not a perfect solution either. I'm not one to oppose change for the sake of it, but sometimes when a system isn't broken it doesn't make sense to fix it. I guess the degree of fixing that the current system needs is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm intrigued by the idea of playoff expansion, but I'll echo Ken Rosenthal on the issue: be careful what you wish for.