There are two things that make me very angry today. They may seem to have nothing to do with each other. Yet Bud Selig is exactly like the TSA. They are both higher powers in the American landscape that are forcing their awful ideas on society. Let me explain.
Bud Selig wants to put ten teams in the MLB playoffs, rather than the current eight, which is already an increase from the six that got in when he became Commissioner. Six, eight, ten, why the big deal? Mediocrity. Baseball is the American pasttime. It isn’t “the current American sport of the moment”, nor is it “something cool we made for TV”. Baseball is tough. The season is long. The games are played in the sun of long summer afternoons. Pitchers take forever. Batters grab their crotches. Baseball is awesome. It’s also hard. And most teams don’t make the playoffs. I don’t mean *half* the teams don’t make the playoffs. I mean most. As in, pre-Bud, less than one out of three. One per division. That was awesome.
Bud Selig implemented the Wild Card, which is pretty solid, as things go, though it does occasionally lead to crazy math. The idea behind the Wild Card was that teams who happened to have another very good team in their division could still make the playoffs. This was called the “Yankee rule” or the “AL East rule”, because it gave Baltimore, Toronto, Tampa Bay and even Boston some hope that, in an era when the Yankees went to the post-season almost every year, they didn’t have to beat the Yankees to get in, they just had to be better than everyone else.
I love the Wild Card rule. I think it’s very rewarding to say “hey, we didn’t win the division but we would have won most divisions, so we should keep playing.” I like this sense of achievement. Plus, the Cardinals won the WS as Wild Card entrants in 2006. And the Marlins in 2003. And 2007. Wild Cards are good for baseball. And eight out of thirty teams is still less than one third. It’s still tough to get in to the playoffs in MLB.
Why is it good to have the playoffs be tough to get into? Because nothing is more disheartening than hearing a NFL fan say the following: “Our team is 4-6. Maybe if Buffalo loses to Tampa and Green Bay beats Seattle and we beat Chicago, we can make the playoffs!”
That is pathetic. It’s demeaning to the fans, and to the game. Why? Because their team is simply not any good. Good teams make the playoffs, bad teams don’t. That’s the whole idea! If mediocre teams make the playoffs it’s called THE REGULAR SEASON.
But Bud thinks good teams aren’t making the playoffs. Hence the whole ten teams instead of eight thing. Wait. What? Did any good teams miss the playoffs in 2010? The Padres? Not a good team. How do I know? They didn’t make the playoffs. Also, their run differential was +84. This means they scored 84 more runs than they allowed, over the course of the 2010 season. Was this good? Well, in a word, no. The eight teams that made the playoffs were between +163 (NYY) and +100 (Texas). No team had a +100 run differential and did not make the playoffs. The Cardinals were the only ones even close, at +95 and no playoffs. And we all know the Cardinals weren’t very good down the stretch.
In case that last paragraph contained too many ideas and failed attempts at humor, let me clarify:
In 2010, the best eight teams made the playoffs, and those eight teams were quite noticeably better than any of the other 22 teams.
Bud Selig is not helping the sport. He may be helping someone. That I won’t argue.
And how is Bud like the TSA? Well the TSA may be helping someone, but they’re not helping passengers. They’re not helping airports. They’re not improving security. They aren’t saving money. They’re not speeding up transit. They’re not making people’s days better.
What are they doing? Keeping everyone scared. Remember, the threat is real, they say. The threat level is orange.
The threat level has *always been* orange.
Airplanes got blown up before 9/11. The TSA didn’t exist. Neither did naked scanners, shoe removal, pat downs, nail clipper confiscation, belt removal, or 2 hour security lines.
Are we safer? I guess that depends on us. All I know is that Bud isn’t making the sport I love better and the TSA isn’t making the experience I love (air travel) better. They may be helping someone, but it’s not me. I love to fly and I love baseball. Please, Bud Selig and faceless TSA boss, stop trying to change that.