Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
As a New York Yankee-centric baseball fan I find the development of a second wild card team added to each league to be depressing. Sure, there are many good things a second wild card could bring about for Major League Baseball. First, even though the parity in baseball is greatly underestimated and overlooked, adding a second wild card to each league will surely give more teams an opportunity to fight for the playoffs all season, which logically will improve games down the stretch ... if more teams are fighting for the playoffs, more teams will stick with playing their superstars and starters instead of seeing what they have with their 40 man roster additions.
The second wild card will also add a story line and excitement for the casual baseball fan. Who doesn't get excited for a one-game playoff, a winner take all scenario?
I'll tell you who: Yankees fans.
The addition of a second wild card is the worst thing that could happen for the New York Yankees, and Yankees fans, outside of a salary cap.
The Yankees have very deep pockets and are inspired each and every year to ensure that they will compete for the playoffs, so they go out and spend money on big-time free agents. They remain so deep and talented each year that even in down years they are usually able to secure the wild-card berth, simply by outslugging and outlasting their opponents. The Yankees pockets allow them to win any wars of attrition. Things have been great in Yankee-land.
Now? Not as much.
Adding an extra wild card game means that there will be a one game play-in to decide who move on to the divisional round. This is disadvantageous to the Yankees in two ways.
First, now it really pushes the Yankees to try and win the division. That's not a terrible thing, but the Yankees are and will be for the foreseeable future (unless a salary cap is ever added) an older, veteran team. They will continue to be an older and veteran team because MLB has a system in place that provides teams the opportunity to control their players into their mid- to late 20s, though when they hit the free-agent market they are right in their primes, the long-term contracts will carry them into their mid-30s typically. By being forced to push for the division the Yankees will have to play through the season, and being an older team that means less days off for Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and company.
The second, and bigger, issue is if the Yankees do end up as one of the two wild-card teams and are forced to play in a one-game playoff. The way the Yankees are currently constructed this is bad news. The Yankees advantage is they are a deeper team than other teams, they are set up for the long-haul. This is not a team that is set up to win a one-game playoff. With only one reliable top of the rotation pitcher, the Yankees don't want any part of a one-game playoff. If they win they used up CC Sabathia and he becomes less available for the full divisional series, if they lose all their season's hard work will be gone an instant, and they won't get the opportunity to showcase their depth and outlast their opposition.
Of course this could all be rectified by the Yankees finding another true stud at the top of their rotation, but until that happens the second wild card is a benefit for the fringe playoff teams and a detriment to the Yankees.