A curmudgeon looks at the postseason

It's a brave new world out there, one in which my child texts friends on the way to school - at 7:15 in the morning! - and people who work in customer service-related industries feel no real compunction to help people. 

It's a place where first-and-goal from the 2-yard line doesn't guarantee even one running play in the next three (or four) and the baseball playoffs start with a one-shot, winner-take-all game for the right to play in the American and National league division championship series. 

All the possibilities inherent in this world can be exhilarating. They can also make me want to hide far, far under the covers.

I grew up with none of these concepts. Communication before 9 a.m. and the morning's first caffeine consumption remains an obscene idea. When I worked retail as a teenager, I spoke to people, and didn't get surly if they weren't buying.

I was raised on Danny Ford and smashmouth football. Line it up, know what's coming and try to stop it. Now, I'm not of the Darrell Royal school of thought on the forward pass - "Three things can happen, and two of them are bad" - and I lost many a QB1 game back in the day calling play-action on first-and-goal. But I've found myself baffled more than once in recent days by shotgun snaps on fourth-and-inches and repeated passes from inside the 5 while a superstar running back looks for someone to block. Run the ball. If you can't, learn.

My feelings about these de facto MLB play-in games - which will feature Oakland and Kansas City tonight in the AL and the Pirates/Giants on Wednesday in the NL Wild Card game - are more conflicted. On some level, I don't want to like it, because I know my love of baseball and its very specific excitement is being manipulated. It it a direct offshoot of a magical September night in 2011, the last night of the regular season, when the postseason fate of four teams was decided in minutes. (Atlanta's extra-inning loss to Philadelphia ended the Braves' season and clinched a postseason spot for the eventual World Series champion Cardinals; the Red Sox lost in walk-off fashion to Baltimore, and Evan Longoria's 12th-inning home run catapulted the Rays into the playoffs and sent Boston home.)

It was a crazy, unbelievable, heart-stopping night, the kind that might leave a girl screaming at her television while her cat hides under the couch. It was a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of fate and serendipity and construction (the section of the left-field wall at Tropicana Field that Longoria's homer barely cleared had just been lowered four years earlier).

Or so we thought.

On the heels of that night came the announcement that MLB would add two wild card teams from each league to what is now a 10-team postseason. Then-commissioner Bud Selig wanted an annual taste of the drama of Sept. 28, 2011, with one last game in each league allowing one club to play on while ending another's season.

It's an attempt to manufacture magic on a prescribed, profitable (an extra game to attend and watch) basis.

Am I looking forward to it? Absolutely.

I'm not a defender of tradition on principle. In fact, I second the sentiments of a coffee cup my husband owns: "Tradition: Just Because You've Always Done It That Way Doesn't Mean It's Not Incredibly Stupid." Baseball, to both its credit and detriment, is a game of tradition. Its grasp and appreciation of its past is what separates it from other sports, but it is sometimes what holds it back.

Case in point: the idea that a pitcher cannot be an MVP. The argument goes that this honor should be reserved for an "everyday" position player. A pitcher, some contend, only works every five days, and besides, there's already the Cy Young. 

I see those points, but in this age of dominant pitching and depressed offense, they lose their merit. Especially in the light of the numbers Clayton Kershaw has put up. The Dodgers' ace finished the regular season 23-1 with a 1.77 ERA, an 0.857 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) and 239 strikeouts. I am admittedly and unquestionably biased, but you don't think 23 wins played a huge role in winning the NL West title? You don't think knowing you're virtually guaranteed a win every five days has an uplifting effect on a team's psyche, and its play? And name another viable candidate who dominated the opposition as much as Kershaw, against whom opponents hit .196 with a .231 on-base percentage.  

This slightly off-topic campaign message is to make the point that I'm open to different ways of thinking. I'm open to a five-wideout set - just not every down. I'm aware of the fact that my child and her generation are growing up in a radically different world - but I still wish she'd finish watching the Netflix movie before she looks it up on IMDb. I'm aware you were eager to sell as many iPhone 6s as you could last night, AT&T man, but if you had taken the time to help me, you would have seen your immediate answer to my non-commission-bearing question was wrong.

I was open to the introduction of the wild card nee division series in 1995, and I'm open to adding another game, even though the reasons for doing it offend me on an intellectual level.

Will I be watching tonight, and Wednesday? You bet your Louisville Slugger. It's the postseason, baby. But attempt morning conversation with me before my first Diet Coke at your own risk.