I Hate Baseball's Wild Card

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is planning to expand the Playoffs in 2012, allowing more teams to contend in the post-season, but his solution is to add yet another Wild Card team to the mix.  I love Major League Baseball, but I despise the Wild Card. 

I don't want to tell Mr. Selig how to do his job (if he chooses, he is free to read my previous essay outlining my ideas if I were commissioner, which I posted a while ago), but the Wild Card hurts the integrity of the regular season and offers teams no incentive to finish first in their division. 

It would make more sense to realign the teams so there are four divisions in each league and therefore eight legitimate first place teams competing for the championship. 

I understand that without the Wild Card system, I never would have had the chance to see my favorite player Don Mattingly play, however briefly, in the post-season (thanks to the Yankees being the Wild Card in 1995) or watch the Subway World Series in 2000 (when the Yankees beat the Wild Card Mets).  I would sacrifice those two great moments, especially if it means that I never would have had to endure seeing the hated Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 as a Wild Card team.

The concept of a Wild Card makes it possible for mediocre teams that are not good enough to win their own division still have a chance to win the ultimate prize if they get on a timely hot streak.  Counting the Red Sox, a Wild Card Team has won the World Series trophy four times -- the Florida Marlins in 1997, the Anaheim Angels in 2002, and the Marlins again in 2003.  For Selig, this proves that the Wild Card system is a success.  For me, it makes a mockery of the regular season.

Selig hasn't announced all the details of his expanded Wild Card concept, but I fear the worst.  Unlike other sports, where the Play-Offs seem like a completely separate entity from the regular season leading up to it, the baseball post-season always felt like a natural progression and continuation of the spring and summer games that preceded. 

I would rather see a string of three-team divisions with valid number one teams from each playing for the Championship than additional Wild Card teams turning baseball in September and October into a convoluted mess.