Another one of Bud Selig’s dreams has become reality.
Major League Baseball will be adding a second wild card team to the mix this season. The plan was to add the extra “round” in 2013 when the Astros move to the AL West and the schedule is planned for it. But MLB/Selig could not wait that long and with the consultation of the players’ union, the decision was made to make it a go for the 2012 season.
Baseball still has the least amount of teams of all the major sports getting into the postseason now at 33%, going up from 26.6%. The NFL has 37.5%, the NBA and NHL each has 53% getting into the postseason. Major League Soccer’s postseason percentage sat at 55%, but with the additional of a team on Montreal, that number goes to 52%, with the number going to 50% once they add their 20th team in a yet to be determined city.
Up until now, winning your division didn’t mean much unless you were seeded higher than your opponent and thus received homefield advantage. Some teams that one the wild card would put up a “Wild Card” banner or flag up alongside with their division title banners. So if a team wins the Wild Card #2 spot, will they put up a banner indicating such if that’s as far as they get? I can’t imagine Phillies fans tolerating a Wild Card #1 or #2 flag being raised at Citizen’s Bank Park. They’d have to find a new color. Red is for winning the World Series, Blue for the NL Pennant, and White for the NL East. I’d think Gray would be the next color if they did it but Brown might be more appropriate given the crappy feeling it would give fans to win the wild card and nothing else.
This year, the additional will likely result in some chaos, especially if you throw a few ties into the mix. We will likely see many outcomes of the coin flip homefield scenario come September. Don’t be mistaken, it’s all about TV money here, and the TV station to carry this game hasn’t even been decided on yet. I’m also assuming that there is no change to the NLDS format, with the rule that the Wild Card team can not play the top seeded team if they are in the same division. This will likely bring much aggravation to the division winners as the thing they want to know the most is just who they will be playing.
But just for fun, let’s go through the years of the “One Wild Card Era” and see what would have happened had a 2nd wild card team been in.
This morning, MLB released the 2012 version of their popular At Bat app. Since it’s initial release in 2009, the mobile app was available in two versions: a free basic app which featured news and scores, and a more fully featured paid version ($10 in 09, $15 since 2010). MLB At Bat also came in separate versions for the iPhone and iPad, causing hardcore baseball fans with both devices to drop $30. This year, that all changes. There will only be one version of the app that will run in optimized form on all of Apple’s iOS devices. I am guessing this means we will get the ballpark view that we would see on MLB Gameday. Users will have also a few options on how to pay for the app’s more advanced features. The basic scoreboard functionality with news stories you can download for free, same as the lite version from 2009-2011. A $15 in-app purchase enables features that were previously only available on the paid version of the apps: Pitch-by-pitch updates, in-game video highlights, pitch tracking, and the popular live audio broadcasts of each game. There’s also live video of one MLB.com-selected game each day, as long as you are not in that market’s blackout area. Last year, all games were able to be viewed throughout the month of April thanks to a sponsorship by Volvo. No word on any special treats this year. If you just want to try it out, you can sign up for a $3 monthly charge. But if you go March to November, you can end up spending $27. Just pay the $15. One thing I can’t seem to figure out is how to send the full At Bat version of the app. My dad is stationed overseas really enjoyed listening to the Phillies on his iPod Touch after I gifted him the app as an early father’s day present.
The developers of At Bat plan to release another MLB app right around Opening Day that’s aimed at fans headed to the ballpark. This app builds upon the location-aware check-in functionality included in the At Bat offering to serve up stadium-specific offers and services. Last year you could order food from your seat and have it sent right to you. I’ll bring you more news on this app as it is released. I will also be sure to review the 2012 version of MLB At Bat in Spring Training to see how they are getting the bugs out. At Bat will be updated before opening day with additional features for fans to use.
In other news, Ryan Howard’s ankle was cleaned out after he developed an infection where his Achilles tendon surgery scar was. Trainer Scott Sheridan stated that Howard (now on twitter @RyanHoward) will be placed on antibiotics to make sure healing properly progresses. No one is saying this is a setback since they had no established timetable for his return, but Sheridan is claiming this victory as “great news”. He’ll probably be off the field for a week, then resuming once everything is cleared up.
The Lakewood Blueclaws, the A-level affiliate of the Phillies, have announced who will be coming out to sign autographs for fans this summer and who will be having a bobblehead night. It’s quite an interesting list, mixing everything from local Olympic heroes to political hodgepodge.
2012 Bobblehead Giveaways
Chrisite Rampone – June 25th, 7:05 pm – Rampone, a Point Pleasant native and the captain of the United States Women’s Soccer team, will be “bobbled” by the BlueClaws in advance of the Olympics. The former Point Pleasant Boro High School and Monmouth University star has represented the United States in four World Cups (capturing the title in 1999) and this summer in London will be her fourth Olympics (including gold medal wins in 2004 and 2008). (Please note that the ZOOperstars appearance scheduled for June 25th has moved to June 26th)
Vance Worley “Made the Phillies” – July 14th, 7:05 pm – Worley becomes the 14th former BlueClaw to be “bobbled” as part of the “Made the Phillies” series. A 3rd round pick in 2008 from Long Beach State, Worley joined the BlueClaws later that summer and went 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA over 11 starts. He became the 34th player to go “From the Shore to the Show” when he made his Phillies debut in 2010 and in 2011, after going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA with the Phillies, he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. His bobblehead is presented by Central Jersey Blood Center.
Bobblection – August 21st, 7:05 pm – BlueClaws fans will cast their votes for President on August 21st when a “Bobblection” comes to Lakewood for the first time. There will be 500 bobbleheads of both Barack Obama and the Republican nominee for President. As they enter the park, fans choose one bobblehead. Whichever bobblehead runs out first is declared the winner.
Mickey Morandini – September 1st, 7:05 pm – Morandini, who was named BlueClaws manager in November, will be “bobbled” for the first time by the BlueClaws on the final weekend of the regular season. He played 11 years in the big leagues including eight with the Phillies. He was an All-Star in 1995 and a member of the Phillies 1993 National League Champions club.
The “Bobbleection” should prove interesting. You find crazies on both sides of the aisle. I wonder what happens if the GOP has no nominee by the time this night happens? Their convention begins on August 27. Maybe they will just give out a generic Elephant repping the Republicans. Also Vance Worley is quite the popular dude this year. In addition to his Blueclaws bobblehead night, the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs will have a Vance Worley bobblehead night on May 1st as well as a Vance Worley replica glasses giveaway on May 17.
2012 Autograph Signers
Jim Kaat – April 26th, 6:35 pm – Kaat won 283 games over 24 Major League seasons, pitching for the Senators/Twins, White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals. After his playing career, he spent 22 years in the broadcast booth, calling Yankees and Twins games, and now works for MLB Network.
Mark Ballas – June 6th, 7:05 pm – Ballas, of Daning With the Stars fame, has been competing on the show since the fall of 2007 and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography in 2011. He was twice won the competition, with celebrity partners Kristi Yamaguchi (season six) and Shawn Johnson (season eight).
Bret “The Hitman” Hart – June 16th, 7:05 pm – A five-time WWE Champion, Hart follows in a long line of professional wrestlers who have signed autographs at BlueClaws games, including Mick Foley, Sgt. Slaughter, and King Kong Bundy.
Doc Gooden – June 30th, 7:05 pm – Gooden joins Kaat as a former baseball star to sign autographs at a 2012 BlueClaws game. He pitched for six teams in his career, including the Mets and the Yankees, winning World Series titles with the 1986 Mets and 1996 and 2000 Yankees. He became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game when he made his first of four appearances in 1984. In 1986, at age 21, he became the youngest pitcher to start an All-Star Game. In 1996, he threw a no-hitter while pitching with the Yankees, a game that was ironically broadcast by Kaat.
I always like WWE Superstars. Bret Hart is my all time favorite. This is not one to miss.