One week until every team is in first…..at least for a day
One week until the Angels begin life with the best right handed hitter in the game
One week until the beginning of Chipper Jones’ farewell season
One week until Stephen Strasburg tries to recapture his rookie year magic
One week until the Pirates try to end a streak of 19 straight losing seasons
One week until Paul Konerko is just 4 homers away from 400
One week until the Theo Epstein era begins in Chicago
One week until Prince Fielder questions money over Comerica Park’s 420ft Center Field fence
One week until the ‘Carlos Zambrano Meltdown Watch’ starts
One week until Bobby Valentine tries to prove he’s the smartest guy he knows
One week until Kenny Williams questions why he traded Sergio Santos
One week until Kansas City fans look at the starting lineup and say “who’s that?”
One week until Magic Johnson wonders what $2 Billion just bought
One week until the fans actually listen to the starting lineup announcement
One week until Ryan Braun tries to prove it was all legit
One week until the Houston Astros become National League lame ducks
One week until the New York press declares the Mets out of the division race
One week until a first pitch ball outside will get a huge cheer
One week until I duck my head when an F-18 skims the top of Wrigley after our National Anthem
One week until the Red Sox don’t eat fried chicken during the game
One week until this passion we call baseball begins
One week until Opening Day!!!
I love Opening Day.
I look forward to it every year. I really love it when the Cubs home opener is the first game of the year, as opposed to the 7th game after starting the season on the road. This year, not only will I be at the Cubs home opener, but I’m heading over to the south-side a week later for the White Sox home opener.
Opening Day is the start of the season. The real start. Spring training is fine, but I just can’t get into number 78 ‘so-and-so’ pitching to number 63 ‘never-gonna-make-the-roster’.
I even love the first Opening Night game on ESPN the day before all the other teams start the year.
Unfortunately, that Opening Night excitement of being the first regular season game is ruined again this year as the season will officially began a week earlier in Japan. On March 28th and 29th the Mariners and the A’s will play two games in Tokyo. I’m probably not gonna get up at 5am to watch. But hey, you Oakland and Seattle fans can get up at 3am if you want to watch your favorite team.…..blah.
Look, I know the league wants to take the game to an international level, and I’m all for it, but we’ve had season openers in Japan now since 1999, and so far nothing has changed. You wanna show me that the game can be played on an international level, ok fine; schedule a three game series in the middle of July. Show me that two teams can finish a series on Sunday afternoon in Seattle and Oakland, and then meet for a three game series in Tokyo or Sydney or San Juan; then be back in Chicago to start a three game set on Friday night. Because if you can’t do that, then these games in Japan are about nothing more than putting some extra money in MLB’s pocket.
In the meantime, it really screws up Opening Day. Won’t it be fun opening up the paper every day for a week and seeing 28 teams at 0-0 and two teams with 2 games under their belt? Then again, if Seattle wins both games, that 1 week may be the longest time that they have spent in first place in over a decade.
Here’s an idea. People are always trying to make up drinking games, right? On the night of April 4th when the Marlins take on the Cardinals in what should have been the first official game of the season, get your favorite beverage ready. Every time an announcer on ESPN says that this is the start of the regular season – “except for those two games played in Japan last week”…..take a sip.
MLB has made it official; there will be two wildcard teams in each league this year.
I like the new format. The two wildcard teams will play one game, that’s it, just one game against each other. The victor will move on to face the division winner with the best record while the other two division winners will meet.
The holdup in the decision to announce the addition wildcard team was due to scheduling. MLB solved their problem by eliminating one off day from the LDS series. They also have changed the standard format of 2-2-1 to 2-3, with the club having the better record getting the last 3 games at home.
One of the concerns for the league was the worry that the regular season could end in a tie for a playoff spot, or worse, multiple ties, that would have to be played off before the actual playoffs could start. While it is possible, I’m not worried about it. In the 17 years since baseball has had the wildcard, only 3 times would two teams have tied for that fifth and final spot; that’s just 3 out of 34 chances (17 years X both leagues).
So now there is a real benefit to winning the division, although all teams are happy to make the playoffs, no team will happily want to risk their World Series chances on a one game playoff.
This brings the excitement of a division battle back. Instead of two division teams setting up their rotations and getting ready for the playoffs because they both know they are in, both teams will do their best to win the division and secure that first round bye.
Now if they could just add 6 wildcards, the Pirates might have a chance.
Wild Card Edition
1.The first two Wild Card teams were the New York Yankees (79-65, 7GB) and the Colorado Rockies (77-67, 1GB) in 1995.
2. In the 17 post-seasons since the start of the Wild Card in 1995, 10 wild card teams have made it to the World Series. They are 5-5.
3. Wild Card teams have met in the World Series once. In 2002 the Anaheim Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants 4 games to 3.
4. If you have some free time, pick up Submarine at Redbox, it’s one of the better movies you have never heard of.
Bonus. The Florida (Miami) Marlins have never won their division; in fact they have only made the playoffs twice in their 19 year history, both times as a wild card. Both times they won the World Series (1997, 2003).
The players have reported, the spring games are about to begin, but unless an announcement is made today, we still don’t know exactly how many teams will make the playoffs.
We know it will be at least 8, or it could be 10.
Since 1995 each league has had 3 division winners and 1 wildcard. That format will change for sure in 2013 when the Houston Astros move to the American League. When that happens, each league of 15 teams will have 5 playoff teams. I’m a little hesitant to say it will be 3 division winners and 2 wildcards because the league alignment is not set in stone yet. (It could be 1 division of 15 teams, but that’s another post).
The question is; will the playoff format change for this year? We know Bud Selig wants to add 1 additional playoff team per league, and I would assume the players do also. They just can’t agree on how to schedule the one game playoff between the two wildcard teams. The season ends on Wed Oct 3rd, the division series playoffs are scheduled to begin on Oct 6th. It gives the league only two days to have the extra 1 game playoff between the two wildcard teams. This seems doable, unless the regular season ends in a tie, or worse, multiple ties.
Of course the players union might want to explain the new system to some of the players. “One game? That’s kind of crazy,” designated hitter David Ortiz said. “You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? I guess Ortiz has forgotten last season already when he would have loved to have played a one game playoff against the Rays instead of watching on tv like he did.
It would seem logical to just back up the start of the LDS’ one or two days, however, that would also back up the start of the LCS’ and the World Series; and the league cannot change the WS dates.
My guess is that the league and the players will reach an agreement (probably agreeing to lose an off day in the middle of the LDS) and that we will have 10 playoffs teams for 2012.