Despite being swept by the Yankees, the Mariners have not taken themselves out of the playoff race. They're still very much in the thick of it, although they currently sit a half game out. Recently, I've seen a lot of discussion on the second wild card spot, and a chat about it seems worthwhile.
On one hand, the second wild card provides hope for a team like the Mariners that might not get into the playoffs otherwise. It extends the level of interest in the season, as a winner of just one can become a winner of it all. We all know that the baseball playoffs are a wild, streaking crapshoot, and sneaking in at 86-76 could result in an improbable one not entirely dissimilar from the 2006 Cardinals.
However, this year we may see some unintended consequences. Because so many teams are still alive in their hope to reach the one game playoff, there will be less sellers than ever before. Trades will move further and further towards the deadline as the amount of buyers holds on much longer than before, while the corresponding amount of sellers decrease. Even the Mariners, mostly eliminated, held onto some false hope last year, opting not to ship off Oliver Perez, eventually losing his services for nothing in free agency.
Still, the hope.
But there's the general injustice of the one game playoff, which puts far more luck into the equation than baseball deserves. To take 162 games of baseball and boil it down to one individual game is nerve-wracking and exciting, but it's also a wildly unfair to decide who the better team is, making an entire, comprehensive body of work condense down to a singular game, one that is already highly influenced by luck, singular mistakes, and differences of inches.
It's something I've always hated on principle alone, but now that the Mariners are over .500 this late into the year, I've grown to like it, or at least entertain the idea of liking it. Everything is relative to individual situations, and if the Mariners happen to grab the second spot when they would have otherwise missed it, terrific. It may not be the some just way to reward the best teams in the game, but the Mariners don't have a championship banner after 116 games won either, do they?
So what are your thoughts? Now that the Mariners are flirting with a relatively newly available playoff spot, are you happy it exists, or do you still despise it on principle alone? My personal opinion will remain murky until the Mariners are directly rewarded -- or punished -- by its existence.