Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves enjoys a light moment in the dugout before his final regular season game against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 23, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(USA Today) -- Lost in the hoopla of the Phillies' postseason hopes and Chipper Jones' last series in Philadelphia was Jones' harsh words for this year's new playoff wrinkle.
Jones, at 40 and a future Hall of Famer, can be frank without fear of repercussion. It was refreshing to hear his honesty, and the man has a point.
"I think it's stupid to be honest with you," Jones said. "Major League Baseball wants a bunch of teams in the playoffs. There's nothing like cutthroat baseball for the fans. People love that 163rd regular season game. They loved it in the past. I'm sure that's what has warranted a second wild card team. I wish they would have done it a year earlier so we would have had a chance last year but it is what it is."
It's an interesting juxtaposition. For a team like this year's Braves, who are well ahead of any other wild-card team, they'll be relegated to a one-game playoff despite possibly having the third-best record in the National League.
But for the Phillies, the second wild-card spot has breathed new life into the Phils, who last year would have likely been resting players by now and essentially fielding a minor-league team to get guys some experience.
Then we arrive at the format -- a one-game, winner-takes-all contest for entry into the NLDS. A lot can happen in one game.
"Now if you were to say the two wild card teams would play a best two out of three, I'd be OK with that," Jones said. "It's more fair from a standpoint that anything can happen in one game -- a blown call by an umpire, a bad day at the office, at least in a two or three-game series you some sort of leeway."
I agree. Don't change the option, change the format.
While it might not benefit Jones this season, it still makes for exciting baseball, as evidenced by what's going on right now -- scoreboard watching around the league. Without the second spot, many NL fans would be disposing of baseball in favor of full-fledged football fandom right now.
(Chris Branch is a baseball columist with The (Del.) News Journal/USA Today)