Oct 20, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) talks with members of the media during a press conference the day before the start of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t really like the Wild Card concept as it applies to baseball, as I consider myself a fuddy-duddy purist who would prefer that MLB ditch the DH. The Wild Card feels like a gimmick, yet I’d be happier than a foot in spikes if my Cincinnati Reds could ride the WC all the way to the World Series, as both the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants have done this month. As this All-Wild Card World Series begins to unfold tonight, these teams are, wittingly or not, paying homage to the changes that outgoing commissioner Bud Selig has wrought in his 20+ years on the job.
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When Selig became Acting Commissioner on September 10, 1992, baseball had four divisions, two in each league. Each division in the AL had seven teams, and each division in the NL had six teams.
Only the four division winners made the post-season, and those teams squared off immediately in the best-of-seven LCS. No Wild Card teams, no LDS and no hope for most teams in any given September.
From the moment he took office, even though he was to be an interim leader, Selig has pushed towards flattening the competitive hills and troughs and making every team look pretty much like every OTHER team. The prongs of his approach were expansion, realignment, interleague play, revenue sharing and expanded playoffs, each falling in place to help whitewash the differences between the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers of the world.
You can disagree with Selig’s road map, and you can question his motives (he owned WHICH team again?), but you cannot deny that he has been spectacularly successful in accomplishing his goal of reshaping baseball and restoring hope all across the land, as the Commish might put it.
I still prefer the old days, when World Series teams had never played each other before, unless it was in the previous Fall Classic. I would rather see Mario Soto taking his hacks than watch Billy Butler lumber back and forth between the plate and the dugout. Even so, Selig has done what he set out to do, and I plan to enjoy this World Series.
Bud Selig goes out a winner, and if you don’t believe that, just ask him.
He’ll tell you.