Baseball to expand playoff system?

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York, April 21, 2011. Major League Baseball (MLB), in an extraordinary move, plans to take control of the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers because of mounting concern over the franchise’s financial plight. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Commissioner Bud Selig told the media on Thursday that Major League Baseball is moving toward expansion of its current playoff system.

“The more we’ve talked about it, I think we’re moving inexorably to that,” Selig said. “But there’s a myriad of details to work out.”

I think an expanded playoff pool would bring more excitement not only to the postseason, but to the regular season as well. Under the current system, all six division winners reach the playoffs, as well as one Wild Card team from each league. It sounds as if Selig wants to add one more Wild Card team to the mix in each league, meaning the clubs with the top two records from each league would each get a bye.

Some baseball traditionalists might resist the change, but all things must change over time. The current playoff format wasn’t introduced until 1994, so there’s nothing wrong with adapting a new system nearly 20 years later – especially when the new format would keep fans interested and going to the ballpark deep into the second half.

Think about it: how many times in the past 10 years has a divisional race been decided in early August? And then what happens to the fans of those clubs that find themselves out of contention? They stop going to the park.

Adding another Wild Card team to the postseason mix would ensure that fan bases of contenders would keep coming to the park, which means more revenue for Major League Baseball and that team. The fans get to see a potential playoff participant, the team can keep selling beer, hot dogs and ballcaps, while the league grows its popularity. It’s a win for all parties involved.

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Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The regular season is almost over, and we have an almost anti-climatic AL East race going on, with just playoff positioning to determine. In the NL, the Phillies and Reds are in but the Giants, Padres and Braves are battling for the final two spots. The Rockies sure flamed out fast, didn’t they? I guess this will be our final power rankings for the year, and it’s time to focus on our NFL MVP, Coach of Year and Rookie of Year power rankings. Thanks for reading, folks and enjoy the playoffs!

1. Philadelphia Phillies (96-64)—As a Mets fan, it pains me to say this, but I can’t see anyone beating these guys at this point. They had their rough patch the first half of the season when the Braves and Mets battled for first place and they sat back and watched, but here they are.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (94-66)—It’s going to be a photo finish in the AL East.

3. New York Yankees (94-65)—I feel like NY will wind up with the wild card, and they may want it that way so they can face Minnesota instead of Texas, if only to avoid Cliff Lee.

4. Minnesota Twins (93-67)—One win this past week, but it doesn’t even matter having clinched a while ago.

5. San Francisco Giants (91-69)—No champagne yet, guys. But this team is looking mighty strong heading into the postseason. However, like I said, no champagne…

6. Atlanta Braves (90-70)—Tough luck drawing the Phillies this weekend, and their lead in the wild card is just one game over San Diego. At least we have some tight races to look forward to in the NL.

7. San Diego Padres (89-71)—A good thing they didn’t trade Adrian Gonzalez. Wow, what a shame it would be for these guys to miss the postseason at this point, but it might happen. Then again, see Giants above….and don’t count the Braves out from collapsing either.

8. Cincinnati Reds (89-71)—They could be dangerous this month because of three words. Joey Freaking Votto.

9. Texas Rangers (89-71)—Cliff Lee and that Murderer’s Row lineup could make noise too, but I’m not banking on it.

10. Boston Red Sox (87-72)—Tough division, but it’s likely the Sox will finish with a worse record than any of the 8 playoff teams.

Angels crumble in the eighth, Yankees headed to World Series


Like it or not, the Yankees have won the pennant. The Angels trailed by a single run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a pair of inexcusable errors subsequently killed their chances.

The sport’s top spenders finally cashed in with their first pennant in six years Sunday night, beating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game 6 of the AL championship series behind the savvy pitching of that old October pro, Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte set a postseason record for wins, Johnny Damon hit a two-run single and Mariano Rivera closed it out in familiar fashion with a six-out save as the Yankees won their 40th American League crown by vanquishing the Angels, a longtime nemesis.

Joba Chamberlain got two key outs and Girardi went to a well-rested Rivera in the eighth. He gave up a two-out RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2, then retired Morales to end the inning.

A diving play by first baseman Mark Teixeira helped Rivera escape further damage.

It was the first earned run allowed at home by the 39-year-old Rivera in a postseason save situation. But the Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth on a pair of Angels errors and Teixeira’s sacrifice fly.

Rivera finished up in the ninth for his record 37th postseason save, and the Yankees had their pennant.

In the end, experienced prevailed, as Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera were all vital to the Yankees recent success. This was Pettitte’s 16th postseason win, breaking a tie with John Smoltz for the major league record. Pettitte had been 0-4 against the Angels over the last two regular seasons, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept his faith in the 37 year-old veteran.

Although CC Sabathia grabbed the ALCS MVP, Alex Rodriguez was undoubtedly the heart of the Yankees’ offense. In this postseason, Rodriguez is hitting .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will get the start for their respective teams in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. Both are former AL Cy Young winners and pitching better than ever. This World Series will obviously get more attention than it did last year. The Phillies will try to repeat as champions against the thirsty Yankees. It feels more exciting than the Phillies vs. Rays, doesn’t it? I’m just as dejected as any baseball fan from California, but I’m still looking forward these games.

Yankees to use three-man rotation in ALCS?

According to a report by The Journal News, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is considering using a three-man pitching rotation against the Angels in the ALCS.

Girardi pointed to the lighter workload that CC Sabathia faced in September, as well as the longer layoff he’s getting now since the Yankees swept the first round. Girardi said that the team would like to have plan in place for the rotation going into the series, as opposed to just waiting to see where the team stands when Game 4 rolls around. Remember, too, that because of off-days Sabathia could pitch Games 1, 4 and 7 and only have to pitch on short rest once instead of twice.

It’s not a bad strategy, although if the Yankees and Angels push it to a Game 7 that means Sabathia won’t start Game 1 of the World Series if New York wins. That said, it’s Girardi’s mission to get the Yankees to the World Series and then worry about how to game plan for the Fall Classic when the time comes. So if he feels as though a three-man rotation is the best strategy against the Halos, then he should go with it.

If the Yankees are forced to use a fourth pitcher, than it will likely be Chad Gaudin and not Joba Chamberlain, who will remain in the bullpen.

Dodgers come alive in seventh, clinch division


On Saturday night, it took three things for the Dodgers to beat the Rockies and finally clinch the NL West. 1) A spectacular pitching performance from the 21 year-old Clayton Kershaw, who threw six scoreless innings on 10 strikeouts and three hits. 2) Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa’s groin injury in the fourth. De La Rosa pitched three hitless innings before the Rockies middle relief came in and struggled. 3) The seventh-inning rally from the Dodgers. After hits from Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, Mark Loretta, Juan Pierre, and Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers had scored five, breaking the game wide open.

The Dodgers unleashed their pent-up frustration in a five-run seventh inning that matched their entire offensive output from the previous five days, the five-hit, two-walk outburst lifting them to a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night that secured their second title in a row.

For the last six days, the magic number for the Dodgers to win the division was at one.

The Dodgers lost five consecutive games over that span. The Rockies won six.

Ending the game was closer Jonathan Broxton, who had a chance to seal the division title in Pittsburgh six days ago, only to blow a three-run lead.

“In Pittsburgh, it didn’t go the way I wanted,” Broxton said. “It felt like a while to get here. The champagne traveled a lot. It probably has more miles on it than any other champagne.”

Obviously, the Dodgers hardly “clinched” anything. That word implies an interim of relaxation. The Yankees “clinched” their division and secured home field advantage some time ago. It took 161 games for the Dodgers to solidify their role in the playoffs. While they finish the season with the National League’s best record, the Dodgers are by no means its hottest team. Until last night, they had lost five straight. Fortunately for them, the Cardinals (their NLDS opponents) and the Phillies are both in similar skids. The Rockies, however, are tearing it up, winning six of their last seven.

Hats off to Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who took over midseason and completely turned this team around. The Rockies are thriving off the same type of momentum that took them from the wild card spot to the World Series in 2007.

Despite the Dodgers recent struggles, they did have to overcome a fair amount of obstacles, including Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin’s hitting woes, Hiroki Kuroda’s various injuries, and Chad Billingsley’s second-half meltdown. Really, it came down to Ned Colletti’s preseason and midseason acquisitions. Orlando Hudson, Randy Wolf, George Sherrill, Ronnie Belliard, Vicente Padilla, and Jon Garland turned it on when it mattered most. Notice how I didn’t mention the Twenty Million Dollar Man. Devotion transcends past drug use out here in L.A. and Manny Ramirez has received a season-long pass. Who knows if his bat will come alive in the playoffs. Nevertheless, it won’t matter. The best teams are going to advance, and that’s the end of it.

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