Will Extending the Playoffs Really Dilute the Regular Season?

By far the most common complaint I read regarding Selig's plan to add a second wild card is that it would "dilute the regular season." Personally, I'm suspicious of this argument, and I'll tell you why in a bit. Today, however, I've read two of the more entertaining and cogent posts on the issue. The first comes from Carson Cistulli over at FanGraphs:

For people who possess even the minorest capacity for developing narrative, the playoffs, the World Series, and the winner of same — it’s all irrelevant. Note, please, that this is not the same thing as saying that winning itself is irrelevant. No, winning is an essential goal for players to have. Games wherein the participants are unconcerned about the outcome — well, those aren’t games, at all.

In case you couldn't tell, Carson is against the idea. The second comes from William J. over at TYU:

Normally, the idea of diluting the regular season would be abhorrent to me... I am not sure there would be much of a dilution, at least not much greater than what exists now. In fact, if constructed with just a little bit of common sense, an extra wild card might actually return integrity back to the regular season.

Honestly, I'm with William J. on this one. I love the regular season narrative, and I love the playoffs too. I've already stated why I think adding playoff teams might be a good idea for baseball. I'm now ready to take a more definitive stance: I do think adding more playoff teams would be good for baseball, just so long as we don't go overboard like the NBA and the NHL.

 

The regular season is not sacrosanct. I understand that there are plenty of people who don't want to mess with it, and there's a vocal group who would like an even shorter season. But let's remember that adding playoff spots keeps more teams in contention deeper into the season. For these teams, the regular season becomes significantly more important than it would be otherwise. Sure, adding two teams might not have an overwhelming effect, but it would have an effect--a positive one--nonetheless.

Add to this the number of teams that would invest more resources into gambling for a shot at October, and I believe a small expansion of the playoffs could have a very positive impact on baseball--including the regular season.

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