Brian Cashman is a fan of a second wild card and a one-game play-in. Why? Because of those darn Yankees, of course.
“We’re Exhibit A,” Cashman said. “We conceded the division two years ago because of the previous setup. I’m not taking away from Tampa Bay’s Eastern Division title, but we didn’t try to win the division. We tried to line ourselves up for the playoffs and that worked. We wound up sweeping Minnesota and going to play the Texas Rangers two years ago because we got our guys healthy and ready to go. The division title, the way that wild card situation was sitting, was rendered meaningless.
“It really meant nothing more than a T-shirt and a hat.”
The Yankees fought that perception back in 2010, but it was clear they weren’t going all out for the division title when they routinely sat their regulars, gave key innings to secondary relievers and played their worst baseball in the final month of the season. Obviously they would have liked to have won the AL East, but it wasn’t important enough to make it a priority. The only penalty was losing home field advantage.
Home field or a healthy, rested roster? The Yankees made the logical choice.
As for Cashman admitting as much… I don’t think anyone is shocked, and I don’t see any reason to be appalled. The rules are in place, and it’s up to each team to find ways to take advantage of them. It’s up to the league to close these sort of loopholes.
“When you’re in a position to know you’re going to go, and it really doesn’t matter which way you’re going to go, at that point, and you start resting guys, lining them up, and the games in September aren’t as meaningful as they needed to be,” Cashman said. “Baseball took notice and made, I think, a very smart change. Bud Selig did a remarkable thing adding the wild card, and I think he’s now doing another remarkable thing by enhancing the playoff push. It’s going to create a lot of buzz and excitement and meaningful games deeper into the season, as it should be. It certainly brings back the importance of being a division winner again.
“… I felt we made the appropriate decision. I won’t say we gave it away because Tampa earned it, but we were willing to not win it if it meant putting ourselves in a better position to move forward in October. Those are choices that I think it’s best to eliminate from the equation, and the commissioner has done a great thing by doing that.”