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What Is the Payoff for a One Game Playoff?

by: Brian F. Logush

With the San Francisco Giants defeating the L.A. Dodgers on Tuesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the second Wild card spot in the 2012 playoffs. Not bad for a team that lost their certain Hall-of-Fame manager and pitching coach. Not to mention the best offensive player in the last fifteen years. But the 2012 playoffs make #12in12 a distinct possibility. As a baseball fan, as well as a Cardinal fan, I am happy to see them in the playoffs. For the majority of my baseball-watching years, I have been fortunate enough to watch great teams, compelling stories, and underdogs that became World Champions. It is odd that arguably the two best teams since 1996 (the '96 and '04 teams) didn't win, but the two inferior ones ('06 and '11) did. However, none of that really matters, as the team and its fan base are focused on Friday's tilt in Atlanta.

Now this is all well and good, and like I said, I'm glad I will witness postseason play again. But you will have to pardon me if I don't like how we made it to the playoffs. And no, I am not speaking of clinching by virtue of the Dodgers losing.

The second Wild Card is yet another bastardization of this game. It was only introduced because Bud Selig saw that postseason implications often come down to the very last day. And hey, what's better than two teams battling for one spot? Three teams battling for two spots!! And by better, I don't mean better play. I mean better concessions. Better ratings. Better gate sales. Better revenue.

I get that baseball is a game played by men that are talented enough and lucky enough to earn eight-figures while doing so. But in order to pay those types of salaries, business decisions must be made. Because, more than anything, as we see with the NHL, baseball - no - sports in general, are a business. Everything, from the hot dogs, to the jerseys, to the stupid Build-a-Bear store, is done to make enough money to support the club. I'm no financial wizard, but I know enough basic economics to know a money-grab when I see one. You got a question on supply and demand? I'm your guy. But if I don't know, I'll ask someone who does and get back to you.

At the root of it all, I'm a purist. Which is odd, since for most of my life there's been a Wild Card team. But one extra game to decide who plays the team with the best record? Baseball is a series games. Three game series, four game series, best of seven... it's always been a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament, where two out of three, or whatever, wins. Simple. It's even in the name of your championship! I'm sorry, Mr. Commissioner, but you don't have my support on this.

I like to think that enough people will band together until the second Wild Card is put out. But I know it won't. People will be in Turner Field at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon, watching the Braves and Cardinals. Hot dogs and beers will be consumed. Wild Card shirts and jackets will be bought. Because, for the first time, there are two Wild Card teams in baseball. This is history.

Too bad it's just wrong. I see Selig and company sitting at a meeting, discussing the game's future. And I see the second Wild Card tossed out there, and everyone running with it. Great for TV! Great for drama! Good for the game. I think Ian Malcolm put it best in Jurassic Park: "They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn't stop to think if they should."

And yes, there are nice backstories this year. Atlanta plays St. Louis, the team that crawled back from the dead to catch them last season, only to win the whole damn thing. And the defending AL Champion Rangers will face Baltimore, who were last in the playoffs when the Hartford Whalers were a real thing. This season it happened to work out. It just sucks when it's going to be two teams America has no interest in watching. Unless Boston makes it. Then it's totally worth it.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @Brian_Logush. Aside from sports tweets, I make wrestling jokes and recap Nickelodeon game shows from the '90s.


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