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I hoped it was a bad idea that would fade away after the season ended but as Major League Baseball approaches its winter meetings next week it appears that further expansion of the playoffs is not only going to be on the table, but is likely to pass with little opposition.

Thus Major League Baseball will take one more step toward becoming another league that waters down its regular season in favor of a playoff format that invites too many teams to take a shot at the championship.

I initially didn’t like the expansion to four playoff teams with a wild card included but it was a necessity when each league was split into three divisions. And I grudgingly will admit that it has created some fantastic races, this year included when San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta fought tooth and nail to the season’s final weekend over the last two playoff spots.

But this year’s race is but one reason why expansion is a bad idea. Add another series – supposedly expected to be a wild card play-in series to determine which team really gets to advance to each league’s final four – and the final weekend wouldn’t have mattered. All three teams would already have been in the playoffs.

Furthermore, in the American League, it would have added an 89-73 Boston team ravaged by injuries all season. They would have taken on a 95 win Yankees team for the right to play in the real playoffs.

Why should a team clearly inferior to New York during the season, even one that managed to somehow split 18 games with the Bronx Bombers, have yet another opportunity to then keep that rival from being among the American League’s final four?

Why, money, of course.

So even though it’ll often result in average teams making the playoffs, even though it could stretch the season in to mid-November, even though it will dilute the regular season and even though the season is long enough already, Bud Selig likes the idea for “fairness” reasons, according to the Sporting News. So the playoffs are likely to expand.

Fairness my butt. Win your division and don’t leave it to chance. If you don’t, you have no right to complain about not making the playoffs.

This playoff expansion is nothing more than another money grab for a league that is full of them during an era in which money grabs are the norm and not the exception.

Fans, be damned. Players, be damned, as the NFL embarks on its latest grab, the attempt to cram an 18 game regular season schedule down its players’ throats during the collective bargaining negotiations.

I’m sure the networks would love it. Tired of watching the Yankees play the Red Sox on ESPN 46 times per season? Get used to it if this playoff expansion takes place. Go back the last nine years. Five of those seasons, the Yankees and the Red Sox both bought, err, played their way into the playoffs, with one winning the American League East and the other claiming the Wild Card.

During four seasons, one or the other made it. In three of those four, had the five-team playoff scenario been in place, whichever of the two hadn’t already made the playoffs would have been the additional wild card team.

Go figure.

And sure, you can argue that adding another wild card team gives a different team a chance in those years when Boston and New York both already make the playoffs. It’s true, but it’s more like an argument a Boston or New York fan would make in defending a big-market-based economic structure that is still more broken than fixed than an argument for expanding the playoffs.

Woo hoo! Let’s further reward mediocrity. We’re number five! We get to go the playoffs too.

I haven’t seen a lot of study of fan reaction to the proposed playoff expansion. But just searching the net for blog reaction or informal poll results leads me to believe the fans, by and large, are not in favor of the plan.

This is just further proof that the opinions of those who buy the tickets and the merchandise and who foot the bill in many ways for the salaries players make and the profits teams generate for their owners have little say in what actually happens in sports that are ostensibly supposed to be about them.

Once again, it’s all about the money.

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