Late last week, Bud Selig issued a statement directly addressing the idea of an expanded playoff structure. He stressed that it could be implicated by 2012.
In a nutshell, there would be one additional team from each league that would become playoff eligible. Essentially allowing for two wild-card teams per league.
The format (in regards to the playoff structure) would be exactly as it is now, with the addition of the two new wild card teams that would play the other wild card team in the first round. It has been speculated that these two wild card winners would lock horns in a best-of-three series, rather than the-best-of-five as it stands now.
But without further ado, let’s get to the goods; how would the newly proposed playoff template effect the Texas Rangers’ postseason run of a year ago?
The Texas Rangers 2010 club won the AL West last year for the first time in 11 years. And with a 9 game lead in the division, there really wasn’t much of a chance for the wild-card team to come from the West.
In the AL Central it was a much closer race in terms of the potential for a wild card winner. Although the Chicago White Sox finished 6 games behind the division winner Minnesota Twins, they were a mere one game behind the AL East’s New York Yankees for the final playoff spot.
In the Yankees’ AL East, they were the American League’s wild-card winner. This is nothing new. Since the first year the wild card was instituted (1995), it has come from the AL East 12 times, with either the Red Sox or Yankees nabbing the honors in 11 of those instances.
And this is where the hypothetical playoff expansion gets very interesting. The other wild card from the American League in 2010 would have gone to the Boston Red Sox (89-73). Their record was one win and one loss better than the AL Central’s White Sox (88-74). This outcome would most likely give the White Sox’s skipper, Ozzie Guillen, a platform to unleash even more unintelligible utterances that no one cares about enough to translate into proper English.
So, we’d have a NY Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox wild card showdown. Among other things, this would mean that three playoff teams would come from the AL East. This would also mean that those select few that can benefit directly from the riches of television revenue would find themselves in the ultimate win-win situation.
Depending on whether or not a five-game or three-game playoff matchup is instituted the winner of this wild card playoff would then advance to play the AL Central’s Minnesota Twins.
Say the Red Sox fought off the Yankees and then advanced to paly the Twins. After the Twins lost last year’s ALDS 3-1, they’d probably welcome the Red Sox (or anybody else for that matter).
Now if the Red Sox won the ALDS, how would a Ranger’s versus Red Sox ALCS pan out?
During the regular season, the Rangers had a 4-4 record against the Yankees. The Rangers were even better against the Red Sox, with a 6-4 record. Sure that’s the regular season. And sure, that’s a larger sample size against the Red Sox. But…
All biases aside, the Rangers would have had a great chance against whomever they met in the ALCS in 2010. Call it fate, call it the "Cliff Lee factor", but last year it was just destiny. However, it sure was nice to beat those darn Yankees. An ALCS Championship over the Red Sox might not have meant as much to the Rangers faithful as it did to beat the Yankees. But either way it would’ve been just as sweet.
Now if only the new playoff format could’ve done something to get rid of those pesky San Francisco Giants prior to the World Series. But that’s another topic for another day.