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Do the Phillies Deserve to be in Wild Card Hunt?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 19, 2012 09:36 AM | Comments: 27
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Chooch has been awesome, but the team has not. (AP)

September baseball has been more fun with the Phillies squarely involved in the chase for the second wild card spot in the National League. Without it, weeknight baseball games would be lacking importance and we’d be forced to stomach the thought that the Braves and Nationals are running away with playoff spots. Not cool.

What is fun is witnessing the Phillies make a late-season push for that final spot in the 2012 postseason. (As an aside, if the Phillies were to make it, what color would the flag be for the second wild card? Never been in this position.)

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports argues that Phillies fans should not be allowed to partake in the madness:

Baseball touted the second wild card as something that would feed the down-the-stretch-drama beast. Certainly the one-game playoffs between wild-card teams will be entertaining, the do-or-die aspect a welcome treat. And the fact that baseball penalizes the wild card by forcing it to waste a top starter before the division series or risk losing because it didn’t pitch its frontline guy is the sort of disincentive the wild card should’ve had in the first place.

To do those things at the expense of the regular season and its integrity, though, goes against better judgment. Perhaps this is an anomaly and the AL wild card in the future will average 94 wins, as it has, and the NL’s will exceed 90 as well. Maybe these are first-year kinks that get the cynics and those against since its inception all in a lather (in this particular case, a blather).

More likely is the annual bastardization of a regular season that is unique and special to baseball. It is a 162-game slog, a slow burn of strategy and stamina. Diminishing it in any way is counterintuitive to what baseball should try to do: keep it as pristine as possible, and damn sure don’t let some off-brand version of a ball club sneak into the playoffs.

Calling it a “bastardization of the regular season” is a bit harsh. Yes, baseball’s unique rules and shorter postseason mean that every game counts much more than in a seven-game series in the NHL or NBA. Adding a fifth playoff team waters it down to an extent. But how can you criticize Major League Baseball for wanting to bottle the amazing final day they had last season so that it happens every year?

I like that adding the second wild card means divisional winners will have a more dramatic advantage than in previous seasons. The wild card teams will likely be using one of their better starters, therefore screwing up their rotational plans in the opening round of the postseason. Wild card teams were on an equal playing field with the divisional winners, which shouldn’t be the case. Winning the division is the ultimate test for a team through a long regular season. Now, they’re being rewarded for that again, just as they had been prior to the wild card being added.

This is hardly the first time mediocre teams have been included in the postseason. In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals won a bad Central Division with just 83 wins. They won the whole damn thing. Go way back to 1973, the Mets won the NL East with 82 victories. Occasionally, it just so happens that enough teams are having down seasons allowing a less-than-perfect club to slip in. It’s likely this year will be an exception to the rule, that it only takes 84 or 85 wins to get in. Is that enough to complain about? We should see how the next four or five seasons go before coming to a conclusion that this is harming the integrity of the game.

And to say this is being done at the expense of the regular season is also slightly off-base. If a divisional winner were involved in a one-game playoff to advance, then we should complain. But wild card teams were given too much leeway. Plus, it’s not as if baseball is allowing half the teams in the league into the postseason, as is the case in other sports, which therefore waters it down and lengthens it.

Clearly, there is much more excitement as several teams and their supporters get to enjoy more meaningful baseball; isn’t that what it’s about? Shouldn’t paying fans be subject to that late in the year, instead of spending hundreds or dollars to bring their family to the ballpark for a game that otherwise wouldn’t count? The fans of the Brewers and Pirates and Diamondbacks can now get up and cheer instead of turning their full attention to the Packers, Steelers, and Cardinals; and of course the Eagles here in Philly.

So, while the Phillies probably aren’t quite worthy of a playoff berth after the type of year they’ve had, it’s still enjoyable to the end.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Mike

    I read that article a few days ago. There’s a reason that guy writes for Yahoo! and not a real news site, because it was poorly written. If the Phillies make the playoffs then they deserve it, his opinion doesn’t matter.

     
  • Posts: 0 JerseyJosh

    The wild card flag will be brown. It will start out a different color but will end up brown because the only thing a wild card flag will be good for is wiping our asses with it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Mike B

    As my favorite crazy RNC speaker once said: “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

    A baseball team has the record it deserves; if that record is good enough to qualify for the playoffs, then that team “deserves” to be there. Simple as that. If the Phils get in, they deserve to be there. If they don’t, they “deserve” to be watching the playoffs on TV.

    This guy sounds like an idiot.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    I think I suddenly miss the Howard topic.

    Just get there.

    But kidding aside, the biggest mistake parents make with their kiddos is teaching them the words fair, and deserve. Well, the biggest mistake is teaching the youngbloods to walk and talk, but for dramatic purposes, we’ll include deserve and fair as part of the vocab as top of the list.

    When, in adulthood, where most peeps spend the majority of their lives do deservedness and fairness have much to do with reality.

    The rule is what it is, and it’s a scam that mediocore and 248 chances a season clubs are vying. But this ain’t artistry, it’s business. Making money, attention grabbing business. In that area, it’s working. Just ask the fans in Tampa, supporting their ballclub to the tune of 30 some thou empty seats a night. Oops, bad example.

    So do the Phils deserve it? Who cares? They’re in the hunt from the outlying suburbs of the suburbs, and as there is very little in the calendar year that compares with watching YOUR team in the post season, and fantasizing about advancing, who’s complaining.

    I might add that if the Phils were in the catbird seat of the last 5 years, staking a fine regular season against some Johnny Come Lately fear carrying club of ineptitude, I’d be singing a way, way different tune. But you asked the question on 9/19/12, and I am offering a punctual take. Parents should teach their kids flexibility, and we already covered what they shouldn’t teach ‘em.

    Here’s to hope, prayer that it is.

     
  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    I think adding an extra wild card does wonders for the MLB. I love the fact that it causes the wild card teams to use a pitcher in the play in. Recently Wild card teams win the world series because they get hot, go into the playoffs and dont really have any disadvantages compared to teams that won their division. Now they will, they are forced to burn a pitcher so it makes the wild card run harder.
    Its awesome. Its great. dont change it.

    This guy writes for Yahoo and we take him seriously?

     
  • Posts: 5233 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    My feelings are that this isn’t a question of whether the Phillies deserve to be in the playoffs. This is a question of whether the second wild card team deserves to be there, whoever it is. But good old Jeffy has to mention the Phillies in a down year twice in that article to help prove his point.

    The New York Football Giants ( for those who remember Cosell) won the Super Bowl last season. To the best of my memory, they weren’t a dominating football team in the regular season. I know they had a number of close games, and lost to the Redskins twice! They were lucky to be 9-7.

    Is baseball, with it’s declining ratings and in many cities dismal attendance in any position to act high and mighty while other leagues rake in the cash? No. And I’m a purist at heart, I don’t like the new wild card, I don’t even like the old wild card. I hate designated hitters, relievers who pitch to one batter, and in general making a 162 game meaningless. So yes I have to say I don’t think the Phils (read second wild card) deserve to be in this. But the reality is that in today’s world, you gotta serve today’s consumer, or you can’t survive.

     
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I agree with Ken. “Deserve”? Is this a question of morality? What record a team has is beyond good and evil. It just is. And if that makes you the sixth best team in the NL than thats what you are.

    As I start to raise my own kids I find the phrase that comes out of my mouth the most is, usually in a loud, irritated tone: “Well life ain’t fair!” Getting back to baseball: Lets just play one half a season and then after the all star break we have the tourney. Each team seeded 1-30. That’ll be fair. All seven game series.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Dave P

    The phillies are in the worst possible position right now. The second wild card is like an unreachable carrot being dangled in front of us. We probably won’t get it, but we’re close enough that we keep playing our regulars instead of testing players like Ruf out, or trying Chase at 3rd. So we’re not getting development time and we’re likely not getting the second wildcard. What a shame.

    I said before, getting above .500 is my hope for the team this year. Postseason would just be icing on the cake.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    You root for team who hits a guy with a .163 batting average .300 slugging and .509 OPS

    4th

    He always hits 4th

    He hit 4th in the old days and he will hit 4th forever.

    There is no other line up

    4 hitter 509 OPS
    Remember the old days when he sucked with the .700 ops
    It was grand.

    You should have won a title 2010 or 2011

    You hit him 4th and you lost with the greatest staff ever.
    2013 now.
    The pitchers have a lot of innings they are old now and declining

    Is 2016 here?

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    What does a team with a guy with a ,503 OPS hitting 4th deserve?

    Ken you tell me.

    He will hit 4th forever.

     
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      I wasn’t sure of whom you spoke since no name was mentioned.

      You wouldn’t know about this of course, but in my case, it just sucks to be stupid.

      But GENERALLY speaking, a team with a guy hitting 4th with a resume like that COMPLETELY deserves to be in the playoffs. Those of us who have watched baseball for 125 years (notice I didn’t mention names, to protect Lefty’s innocence) have seen just about all the game has to offer, and novel things like that are of massive appeal.

       
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Does anyone here want to win?

    Or just invest?

     
  • Posts: 0 Bryan

    Jeff Passan is one of the worst reporters out there. I can’t stand him.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Rules are rules, no matter what Passan thinks, or what anyone else thinks. If people want to complain, they should talk to Pud Selig.

    There’s a second wild card now, and whatever team wins it deserves it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    @ George you want Howard hitting 4th against left handed pitchers?

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      @AFW: what the f— does Ryan Howard have to do with my comment?

      You have such a one track mind, you probably can’t remember to unzip when you take a pee.

       
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    I echo pretty much what Dave P says.

     
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Ryan Howard is a big name and a good guy. Can really hit long homers and is a run producer. But any manager that keeps him batting 4th next year against lefties is just a flat out p@ssy. Thats just cowtowing to your players. I understand that Jimmy leads off because no one else can – but ANYONE can hot lefties better than Howard. Put Chooch there. Mayberry is better. The left/right divergence is so profound that the situation screams to be addressed and has for the last three years.

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 0 Devin

      No one else can? Juan Pierre, with his current numbers, would be a WAY better lead-off hitter than Jimmy. He’s faster, gets on base more, steals better, and is smarter on the base paths.

       
      • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

        By the credo of you’re only as good as your last ______, your defending JP on stolen base success, you’re okay, byut historically, he’s pretty weak. Got picked off twice in a game in the past, too.

         
      • Posts: 0 George

        Juan Pierre? Maybe against righties. But you’d have to constantly juggle the lineup, because someone else would have be in there against lefties.

        Also, Pierre DOESN’T steal better than Rollins. He gets caught far more times. If getting caught means anything about being faster or being “smarter on the base paths” I’d say he must not be better than Rollins at either.

        One other facet of both players’ games: Pierre will rarely be standing on second or third after being at bat. He has to steal to get there. Rollins many times doesn’t have to steal because he’ll already be in scoring position after he hits.

        Pierre is great in the right circumstances. Leading off every day is not one of those circumstances.

         
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      You don’t get anywhere managing a lineup anticipating negativity, but I wonder what degree of regression Chooch is gonna face next year. Doesn’t seem safe to expect the same out of him next year, though how much dropoff is certainly arguable.

      That doesn’t equate to any disagreement on the Howard point so much as it puts an emphasis on the need for a bat for next year. Maybe that new addition helps solve this seemingly apparent point.

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        Good thing you don’t have to manage.

        I see your point, though. The Phils will need a bat, even if Ruiz is just as good next year. If one looks at his career, he’s been out of the lineup a lot.

        Very few teams have had success building their offense around a catcher. Even without injuries, most catchers’ production tails off in the late summer.

         
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    True – years past lets say. Pierre is having a great year.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 105 pamikedc

    Avatar of pamikedc

    Before I even read this article or ANY of the comments- I do
    Not like the topic of this article ONE BIT. WHO THE HECK cares if they belong and why does it matter to us??? If they win enough and teams lose, then ummm yeah the Phillies deserve it.

     
    • Posts: 0 Don M

      This was in response to a Yahoo article saying the Phillies don’t deserve it, etc …

      basically, if it was just one Wild Card spot as in years past, the Braves would have that all but locked up. With the addition of the 2nd Wild Card team, more teams are in contention until the very end .. good if you’re a .500-ish team like the Phillies, Dbacks, Pirates, etc…

      I like that more teams get to the postseason, but I don’t like the the two Wild Card teams play just a 1-game series.. nor do I like the the winner of that 1-game series then hosts a division winner. …. a few years back Jayson Stark pointed out that MLB should start the season a week or two earlier and start all the games in warm-weather areas, or in dome-stadiums.. so that there aren’t November games in freezing cold places… (Marlins, Rays, Braves, Brewers, Blue Jays, Mariners, Astros, Rangers, Angels, Dbacks, Padres, Dodgers (and the Cards, Royals, Giants, A’s)), could host home games earlier to cut down on Spring Training, and to extend the postseason to meaningful full-series

       
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