Got back not too long ago from Regis Courtemanche’s “Knock Cancer Outta Here!” event.  Thanks, Regis, for a great time.  The math I did in my head leads me to believe you made your goal of $5,000.  Truly wonderful.

Separately, I am still winless at organized Mets events outside the ball park (vs. Atlanta: L; 5-2.  ::Fist shaking:: TATIS!!!)

But I’m here.  Craving a Bailey’s hot chocolate, though it’s far too warm, and I have no Bailey’s.  Or chocolate.

So.  All right, Mr. Gammons.  Less’ go.

There is certainly no reason not to “think about having two wild-card teams per league.” I think about lots of things all the time.  I once thought about what it would be like if the world discovered that French was in fact an exercise in communal gibberish: a social experiment run internally by the Frogs and inflicted on the rest of the global population.  Wouldn’t put it past them.

There’ve been no hard and tight races for division leads, no.  Not ones that are down to the wire, save for whatever’s going on in the A.L. Central between Detroit, they of the 81-70 record, and Minnesota, of the 79-73 record.  Records like that don’t interest me.  If I were in Detroit, or in Minnesota, I might feel differently, as I’d have something to watch for.

But I don’t think baseball falls off America’s radar in September because there are so many other demands placed on their time, at this time.  I think it falls off America’s radar in September because, after one hundred forty or one hundred fifty games, every city’s got a decent sense of whether they’re in it or not.  So watching a mediocre team, in an awful division that’s not my own, wrestling for a playoff spot with another team, just as mediocre and just as not-around, would not interest me in the slightest. 

Ask me again in the event the option’s available and the Mets have a shot at getting in, and I might change my tune.

But honestly, this smacks of some sort of charity.  Baseball is a massive zero-sum game, wherein a team’s wins come with the price tag of other teams’ losses.  Here’s a look at the A.L. standings in 1998, when the Yankees won one hundred fourteen regular-season games.  Only Boston cracked ninety wins.  In case people are turned off by the mention of the Yankees (and I get that such a thing happens), here’s a look at the N.L. standings in 1998.  Two powerhouses and a strong division leader, and a whole lot of other teams left in the dust.

I’d argue about how confusing the logistics of the plan are on the surface–at least to me, at this late hour–but we shouldn’t shy away from hard.  I just don’t see this weekend wild-card play-in doing anything but sparking mild interest locally, which is best solved by seeking competitive parity between the teams so that regular season games are exciting.

But “competitive parity” could be interpreted as code for “salary cap,” and I just don’t want to go there tonight.

I wonder, in the absence of the Rockies winning twenty-one out of twenty-two games down the stretch, or the Mets losing division leads late, and with how competitive football has been this year (I’ve watched a lot of great football from surprising teams), if Mr. Gammons feels a little let down about the return of regular wrap-ups to the season.  But I don’t know that, on any given year, I need my baseball to make national news.  (It would be nice if it made local news.)  There are so many teams in baseball, and so many ways to play to rivalries, and play excitedly with the math of playoff spots, that one risks over-complicating that joy with a pre-postseason. 

It’s essentially the argument against the wild card in and of itself, but the difference is one of degrees.  We can have three divisions per league, have competitive seasons on the balance of years, and see about celebrating a team that has achieved a kind of legitimacy by winning the most games without being a division leader.

I don’t see that there’s a compelling argument behind us cheering to bring in the first-placer otherwise shut out by a team having a franchise year as well as cheering to bring in the best of the second-placers, with the belief that they’ll have to balance being even weaker going in, or be grateful that a team with greater resources emptied the kitchen at another, including the sink.

Additionally, if a wild-card play-in isn’t going to siphon viewership from college football or cause football to share some of its excitement, then why suggest it as a solution?  If it’s about team revenues–and Mr. Gammons brings up money early and often–then there are other ways to drum up money.  Have a bake sale.

Football’s an aggressive game for an aggressive country, with few teams, a short schedule, and amorphous and diffuse fan boundaries.  That speaks to a fan of a certain temperament; the fan that watches baseball day-in and day-out for six months might be a different animal.  Those who have a foot in each world will ratchet up or crank back their excitement based on their available options for continued joy/masochism.

There’s my response.  I’d be remiss if I talked about baseball’s postseason without complaining about the late start times for games, so consider yourselves complained-on.

At least it’s not hockey or basketball.  Those playoffs DO go on forever.

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