The New MLB Playoff Format, The Boston Red Sox Beer Ban & More


NEW MLB PLAYOFF FORMAT HEIGHTENS DRAMA IN AL EAST

Major League Baseball has expanded the postseason to 10 teams, adding an extra wild-card in each league. The new format will require the two wild-card teams in each league to play a one-game playoff for the right to join the three other division winners in the Division Series. I applaud this move wholeheartedly while acknowledging that it might have effects on the Red Sox that are less than ideal.

The American League East has basically owned the wild-card spot since its inception in 1995 (actually the inception was for 1994 but the strike prevented it from coming to fruition). Other than a three-year stretch from 2000-02 when the AL West produced two playoff teams each year and 2006 when the Central grabbed two berths, the wild-card team has come out of the AL East. The Red Sox have gotten into the playoffs via this route in 1998-99, 2003-05 and 2008-09. Only in 1995 and 2007 did Boston enter the postseason as the winners of the AL East—though we have to note that in 2005 they played the Yankees to a co-championship in the AL East and were just seeded lower based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

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REPEAL THE BOSTON BEER BAN

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hasn’t managed his first spring training game and he’s in a war of words with his predecessor, Terry Francona. The former skipper turned ESPN analyst was asked about Valentine’s publicized ban on beer in the clubhouse and termed it a “PR move”, while also acknowledging the Red Sox probably had to do it in light of the events of last September. Valentine immediately shot back that he’s done this everywhere else he’s managed if it’s about PR then it means then 20 or so other teams that ban beer in the clubhouse are looking for PR. So is this a legitimate controversy or a media-manufactured event? And if it’s legit, who’s right?

With regards to who’s right, Valentine can protest all he wants, but this is clearly a PR move…

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CAN KELLY SHOPPACH REJUVENATE HIS CAREER

The coverage of the retirement of longtime Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has correctly focused on his legacy. But there is a more immediate concern for the Red Sox that can’t be overlooked, and it’s what to do about the backup catcher spot. Varitek’s bat may have been long gone, but he still could handle a pitching staff and that alone made him an ideal person to have on hand for a game or two a week. Now a familiar face steps into the #2 job at catcher and it’s Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach was once one of the better prospects in the Boston system and even seen as a possible heir apparent to Varitek prior to the 2006 season.

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