Dan's Dugout: Not Too Wild About Wild-Card Format • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Not Too Wild About Wild-Card Format

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Even though New York may be on the verge of another Subway Series, it would require the Yankees to win three preliminary rounds. That extra series — the wild-card playoff — shouldn’t even exist.

postseasonlogoSplitting each league into three divisions plus a wild-card winner was nothing more than a revenue grab by the club owners. Adding a second wild-card dilutes the integrity of the World Series even further.

Consider the fact that the Cleveland Indians, a team struggling to stay on the sunny side of .500, can still grab the second of the American League’s two wild-card spots.

They are clearly not a championship team and shouldn’t have any chance to continue once the 162-game schedule ends. In fact, their best pitcher — Corey Kluber — has an excellent chance to lead the league in losses.

The Minnesota Twins aren’t any more deserving; neither they nor the Los Angeles Angels, who only

Corey Kluber: Cy Young to Cy Old in one season?

Corey Kluber: Cy Young to Cy Old in one season?

started playing like a contender in September, should have a shot to advance.

On the other hand, putting the Houston Astros into the 2015 postseason picture could create a worst-to-first scenario — an unusual event that never happened at all before both the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins did it in 1991.

As long as we’re stuck with the second wild-card, the homer-happy Houstonians would make a great story — especially if they wound up facing their upstate rivals, the Texas Rangers, in the League Championship Series.

The Rangers, fortified by midsummer swaps that brought Cole Hamels, entered the final week of the regular season as favorites to win the AL West, a division dominated all year by Houston.

Whether the wild-card should exist at all is the issue here. Its existence rewards mediocrity, giving .500 clubs a chance to become world champions. Teams that play well for the last half of the season should not have the same advantage as teams that compile the best records for the full 162-game schedule.

Rookie commissioner Rob Manfred might be thinking along the same lines. He’s hinting at expansion to

Rob Manfred: baseball may expand soon

Rob Manfred: baseball may expand soon

32 teams, which would allow baseball to form four eight-team leagues, each divided into two divisions, with the playoff winners proceeding directly to the World Series.

Baseball is awash in cash, with billions in the coffers, and needs to restore integrity to its showcase events. Dumping the wild-card, the designated hitter, late-starting Sunday night games, and the absurd All-Star voting (“vote early and vote often”) would be giant steps in the right direction.

Sorry, Yankee fans, but your team is not a division champion and should not be playing after 162 games.

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost a key game to St. Louis Monday when they left 16 men on base . . .

With six possible starters, the New York Mets have the deepest rotation of any playoff team . . .

Yadier Molina is nursing a thumb injury

Yadier Molina is nursing a thumb injury

Injured Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki expects to return for the playoffs but St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (thumb) is not so sure of his status . . .

Without injured closer Greg Holland, probably headed for Tommy John surgery, Kansas City enters the playoffs with a depleted bullpen . . .

Pitcher Mat Latos was a free agent only three days before moving from the Dodgers to the Angels . . .

Washington’s Max Scherzer just missed his second no-hitter of the season Monday . . .

Phillies infielder Chase d’Arnaud is the brother of Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud . . .

Maligned in Seattle, veteran closer Fernando Rodney has been a godsend to the Cubs . . .

The AL East champion Blue Jays, headed to their first postseason in 22 years, are still baseball’s best home run hitters but the 2010 Toronto team connected more often (257 times) without making the playoffs . . .

Had the Tigers not snapped him up fast, manager Brad Ausmus would have jumped to the San Diego Padres . . .

The Atlanta Braves are spending a lot more money on their new parks (Sun Trust Park in Atlanta and a new spring training complex in Florida) than they are their team . . .

No surprise that Dave Dombrowski, new team president of the Boston Red Sox, hired former Florida colleague Frank Wren to serve as senior vice president of baseball operations . . .

Who expected Pittsburgh closer Mark Belancon to lead all closers in saves? . . .

Speaking of the Pirates, their Achilles heel is a wobbly defense personified by first baseman Pedro Alvarez . . .

The Dodgers probably ensured a quick playoffs demise by dropping a weekend series to the woeful

Johnny Cueto has struggled in Kaycee

Johnny Cueto has struggled in Kaycee

Colorado Rockies . . .

Kansas City needs Johnny Cueto to regain his Cincinnati form fast . . .

Yasiel Puig, out since Aug. 27 with a hamstring strain, would really help the Dodgers in the Division Series against the Mets . . .

Phillies rookie Aaron Altherr won’t forget his first inside-the-park homer: it came with the bases full . . .

A home run by Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta in his 21st win bolsters his Cy Young chances . . .

Little-known Yankees lefty Justin Wilson pitched for the Pirates in the last two postseasons . . .

Is Toronto wise to trust 20-year-old Roberto Osuna as its closer? . . .

David Price has been brilliant as a Blue Jay

David Price has been brilliant as a Blue Jay

Because he’s been so hot since joining the Jays, David Price will get Cy Young consideration . . .

Neither Tim Hudson (Giants) nor Barry Zito (A’s) fared well in their staged matchup last weekend . . .

Terry Collins, now in his 11th season as a pilot, has never managed in the playoffs before . . .

Quick! Pass it on! Little Jose Altuve, the smallest man in the majors, had two home runs in a game at Minute Maid Park.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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