New Teams Invited to the Party

As MLB fans we were treated to a special appearance last year with two teams that were somewhat familiar with the World Series. The Longtime power of St. Louis met the new power of Texas in a matchup of the team with the second most World Series and a team that made the World Series the year before. This may not seem like a treat if you are watching other leagues were new teams make the finals almost every year. This is baseball though with the unevenness of the payroll forcing many teams out of contention before the season even starts. The usual players were still involved though this playoff season as the AL East sent two teams yet again to the playoffs with another AL East team just outside the playoffs. This is the environment in which the MLB has decided to change things up and for a league that doesn’t change much this change will be a major one. Bud Selig took to the mic earlier this week in order to tell the media that the MLB had decided on realignment and on the all important expansion of the playoffs. First of all the Houston Astros were sold and as a result of this sale they were moved to the AL West giving both leagues 15 teams. With the evening out of the leagues the MLB saw the first realignment since 1997 when the Milwaukee Brewers switched to the NL. This switch will take place in the 2013 season with schedules already created for this upcoming season. Also occurring in 2013 will be a brand new playoff tree as the MLB will create two new Wild card spots, one for the AL and one for the NL. The playoffs have yet to be decided with this new format as to how they will player and whether it will be a one game playoff or a series. The fact remains that two more teams will have a shot at playing in the playoffs in 2013 giving a lot more teams a chance at making the playoffs. This move could have been a response to the wild finish in 2011. If this is the case than expect a one game playoff to capitalize on the excitement felt by the one game thrillers from last year. If this is a response to the fact that the same teams tend to make the playoffs every year, then expect a playoff series to display teams in the playoffs. Either way the MLB will be fun to watch at the end of the year for a number of fans of teams that have been suffering for years. One of these teams is the Toronto Blue Jays who may finally play meaningful baseball in September.

Since winning back to back championships in the early 1990s the Blue Jays have been in trouble missing out on the playoffs for years. With some bad ownership and the lack of payroll support compared to division rivals the Yankees and the Red Sox the Blue Jays have fallen to the bottom of the league. Lately they have begun to look much better but are still hurt by the strength of their division who always competes for the wild card spot. Adding a second wild card will not guarantee the Jays will make the playoffs as last year the Red Sox, after a late season collapse, took the 5th place spot that would be the second wild card spot. Last year the Blue Jays finished in 7th spot two spots out of what would be the last playoff spot. The place they ended up in does not tell the whole story however as they were realistically out of the playoffs before September started. This made the upcoming games almost meaningless as they would need teams to really falter in order to have a shot at the playoff spot. This meant that the Blue Jays would use their last month of the season in order to give some of their young players more time against big competition. This obviously results in some less than stellar play in the last month and lets them see who their future is. If the Blue Jays can have a shot at the last playoff spot they will begin to focus on the current team in the last month and could make a serious run at the playoffs. The additional playoff spot far from guarantees the Blue Jays from a playoff spot in 2013 but if they continue to trend up as they have they may finally play some meaningful baseball down the stretch and could end their playoff drought. The Jays are not the only team that will be happy as many teams will start to play meaningful baseball late in the year after years of missing the playoffs. This move is a great one for a league that rarely changes as September may be as exciting as 2011 for the foreseeable future starting in 2013.

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