Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Postseason Format: What I Like

Major League Baseball made their new postseason rule changes official yesterday, which means the 2012 playoffs will be the first since '95 to have changes made to its format.  As part of the new CBA that came into play last November, MLB had to implement an addition of one Wild Card team to the postseason from each league and they have decided to start that new format this year.  I've thought about this long and hard, and I've got mixed feelings on this new wrinkle.  Rather than try to weave them all into one coherent post, I'll just break it down to the things I like about the new playoff format and the things I dislike.  Today, what I like.

- More Teams Competing in the Playoffs

Of the four major American sports leagues, MLB has the fewest competitors in its postseason with eight total, broken down to four per league, despite having 30 total teams.  And when those teams are playing a regular season schedule comprised of at least twice as many games as the other major sports, that just doesn't add up.  Even without the obvious lack of physicality and body contact, the baseball regular season is a long, grinding affair that takes an incredible amount of skill, strategy, and luck in the right combination in order to be successful.  Whether a team is big market or small, there are tons of things from bad errors to lucky bounces to clutch hits to major injuries to key roster moves to bad umpiring calls and beyond that can affect its ability to navigate the 162-game season and come out of it with a postseason berth.  To reward more teams for making it through that six-month ordeal and still having a chance to win a championship is a good thing.

- The Yankees' Chances of Making the Postseason Increase

People can say what they want about the Angels adding Albert Pujols and the Rangers adding Yu Darvish, but you're out of your mind if you think an additional Wild Card slot hurts the Yankees' chances of making the playoffs every year rather than helping them.  They have made great strides as an organization to better stock themselves for the present and the future, and upcoming budget constraints or not they are still going to be amongst the biggest, if not the biggest, spenders on the block when it comes to payroll.  Combine that with their continued commitment to keep the farm system well stocked with pieces that can help the ultimate goal of winning world championships in one fashion or another, and the Yankee position near the top of the American League only becomes strengthened by adding another opportunity for them to make the playoffs.

The Angels' offense is still spotty at best and their rotation is one injury away from being very shallow.  The Rangers rotation can't be called any better than it was last season and could be worse if Darvish doesn't like up to the hype, plus they always have injury problems.  The Fraud Sawx have just as many rotation/injury question marks as the Yankees do, and potential new clubhouse problems and media firestorms to deal with thanks to Bobby V.  The Rays are going to continue to develop talent, but will also continue to lose it eventually because of their tight payroll limits.  The Tigers are going to own the AL Central and everybody else in that division is a nonfactor.  Anybody who doesn't think the Yankees will be one of the five best teams in the AL this year and over the next couple against this competition is clueless.  In 2008, they broke the long postseason streak they had previously built.  Under the new system, the Yankees will be in a great position to continue the new streak they started in 2009.

** Coming tomorrow- What I don't like. **

Yanks-Phils Grapefruit League Opener Lineup

A bit of a step up in competition today as the Yankees will be facing fellow Major and Minor Leaguers from the Phillies' organization.  Lineup courtesy of LoHud:

1) Brett Gardner- LF
2) Curtis Granderson- CF
3) Nick Swisher- RF
4) Raul Ibanez- DH
5) Eric Chavez- 1B
6) Russell Martin- C
7) Eduardo Nunez- SS
8) Bill Hall- 2B
9) Jayson Nix- 3B

SP) Ivan Nova

Also scheduled to pitch: David Phelps, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral and Mike O’Connor.