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New playoff round irrelevant in American League

MLB's extra wild card qualifier was irrelevant in the American League in 2012.

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

When Major League Baseball announced the addition of another wild card team in each league, and the subsequent do-or-die Wild Card round, many baseball fans groaned, while few cheered.

The rationale for the extra playoff, from MLB's point of view, was simple -- it's a way to increase excitement throughout baseball, by including more teams in the race.

Cynics of the addition viewed it as a money grab, and a way for the poor American League East teams to compete with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Well, in the end, the extra wild card was moot in the American League. Even without the extra playoff team, the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers would still have fought for the right to play in the ALDS. The only difference is that the game would have been considered Game 163, and the loser would not get to say that they qualified for the playoffs in 2012.

In the National League, the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals and Cardinals fans should thank Selig and the owners (thank you!) for the extra wild card spot. The Cardinals finished six games behind the Atlanta Braves, who won the first wild card spot in the National League.

Whether fans like it or not, the 10-team playoff format is here to stay. It just so happens that it was irrelevant this year in the American League, thanks to the O's and Rangers finishing with 93 wins, and tied for both spots.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.