The wild card's negative trade effect
As the second half of the season began, there were eight teams within 2½ games of the lead in the AL wild-card race, an early sign that the expanded playoff field will do exactly what The Powers That Be want it to do.
More opportunity for the postseason, more teams involved in the pennant races, more tickets sold, more fans watching on television. More, more, more, more, especially in September.
But there are always unintended, unseen consequences whenever major restructuring is completed, like when the roof at the Marlins' new ballpark had a big leak in the first month.
Major League Baseball has worked to bolster the integrity of the division races and reward teams for prevailing through the grind of 162 games. But in doing that, it may have diminished the perceived value of a wild-card berth to the degree that some teams won't extend themselves in pursuit of that carrot.
"It's not worth it," said one GM.
To read Buster Olney's full blog every morning of the baseball season, you must be an ESPN Insider.