Friday, November 18, 2011

MLB To Add Wild Card Teams

As soon as next year, each league could be sending 5 teams to the playoffs instead of 4. This will be the first time MLB has expanded its playoff structure since 1995. This also means that the Red Sox would have made the playoffs the last two seasons.

I don't mind the expansion. MLB will be sending 10 teams to the playoffs. The NFL sends 12, the NBA and NHL send 16 each. Any complaints about losing late-season pennant race drama can be silenced by pointing out that in any given year the race for 5th can be just as tight as the race for 4th. In 2010 for instance, the Red Sox had 1 more win than the White Sox in what would have been an exciting race for 5th.

I'd actually prefer 12 teams in the playoffs, with the top two from each league receiving byes.

What I don't like is the way that the new "Wild Card Round" will probably be played: a one game winner-take-all playoff. So after 162 games, it will all come down to just one? That seems a bit unfair. Especially since you're only as good as your starting pitcher performs that day. One meltdown start could be the end of what could have been a very good season.

It's also unfair to Wild Card teams that have better records than divisional winners. In 2010 the Yankees won the AL Wild Card with the 2nd best record in the AL. Why should they have to risk their entire season in a one-game playoff while the AL West winners with a worse record get more margin for error.

I'd prefer a 12 team playoff, with a best-of-three game opening round. I don't know what the point of adding Wild Card teams to the playoffs is if they only get one game to advance any further.

This is great for the Red Sox, though. Even when this team disappoints, they still win at least 88 games, and that will probably be good enough to get the 5th playoff spot.

#7 For Bruins

This was a potential trap game. The Bruins had just won a hard fought battle with the Devils. They knew they'd be facing a weaker opponent. Columbus, on the other hand, would be desperate and hungry.

And that's how things went in the game too. The Bruins didn't make many glaring mistakes, but they weren't playing with the same ferocity and intensity as they did against New Jersey. Understandably so. But as the 3rd period clock ticked away, the Bruins' effort level surged. They applied all the pressure in the 3rd and OT.

Tuukka Rask played great. He made some huge stops and kept the B's in the game when they weren't playing at their absolute best. He was brilliant in the shootout. The one goal he allowed was a point-blank downward deflection that was almost impossible to stop.

He didn't score a goal, not even in the shootout, but Tyler Seguin's confidence levels are unreal. He ran the overtime Power Play. He's a completely different player from last season. I've said it before, I'll say it now, and I'm sure I'll say it again: Last year Seguin had to adjust to the League, this year the League has to adjust to him.

The Bruins have won 7 straight and all 5 in their homestand. They've climbed from last in the Eastern Conference to 9th. They're only 5 points behind the Flyers atop the Conference, and 2 behind Buffalo in the Division.

They travel to Long Island on Saturday before starting an important stretch of games next week (Montreal, Buffalo, and Detroit).

Photo Credit:
AP Photo