If the playoffs started today…YOUR Toronto Blue Jays would travel to Baltimore to do battle in the Wild Card Play-instravaganza, with the winner jetting to Texas for a meeting with the mighty Rangers. An extra AL East team in the playoffs, just like Bud Selig drew it up.
Anything stand out to you? If you answered “the Yankees miss the playoffs!” you’re wrong. It is the second-division also ran Cleveland Indians making the playoffs ahead of those Yankees, with the negative run differential and weak strength-of-schedule making the BALANCED SCHEDULE NOW arguement loud and clear.
Sack tap to Deere5800 in the comment section for the inspiration.
There simply isn’t a way to slice it that doesn’t make this good news for the Jays and their fans. A lot of people have reservations about the diluting of the 162-game schedule, the gimmicky nature of the one-game play-in for the Wild Card spot, and whether these changes will actually increase drama in the season’s homestretch or not, but… let’s face it, those people aren’t us. At least not in the short-term.
Holy fuck, we just got closer to playoff baseball, and to meaningful September baseball!
Now, it doesn’t necessarily instantly vault the Jays into a playoff race– there are six clear top teams in the American League who just about anybody would tell you are going to occupy the five spots when all is said and done. But ultimately, the fact that the Jays can now make the playoffs without having to be better than both the absurdly payroll’d Yankees and the Red Sox is a rather exhilarating thought.
Yet, let’s not kid ourselves that, as a club more likely in the near future to be in the Wild Card mix than a straight-up division winner, this format certainly has the potential to burn us somewhere down the line– which is the exact reason that it should have very little bearing on the way that Alex Anthopoulos runs the team. Winning the divison, now more than ever, has to be the goal. Building a club to can get into a coin flip of a play-in game just isn’t good enough– though the new format certainly a nice consolation for the lesser of the two teams.
But we’ve come to grips with this already, I think. If we look at this news as only being about the 2012 season, it’s great. As far as the future goes… whatever. It’s happening, and with the money involved– adding so many markets who would otherwise be out of the race and losing cash in the second half, plus the boon of the pre-planned one-day event of the play-in games– it was pretty close to inevitable.