Adding two teams to baseball's playoff party sounds alluring: more teams, more games, more rally rags and more excitement. Right?
Not in Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum's mind.
He might have dominated last year's postseason en route to San Francisco's first World Series title, but he is against playoff expansion come 2012, a concept that is "moving forward," according to commissioner Bud Selig's revelation Thursday.
"Personally I think it's kind of funky, just because the game has been this way for so long," Lincecum said Friday before the Giants' series opener against the Atlanta Braves. "Why mess it up, other than for monetary purposes, and that's probably what (Selig) is looking at. That's like, 'OK, don't worry about us as human beings or players.' "
If other players share his view, Lincecum would make a terrific leader in any crusade against adding a second wild-card team to each league's playoffs. By the way, players can veto that playoff proposal before it takes root in baseball's next labor deal.
"It doesn't seem very fair, and personally I don't know where his head is at," Lincecum said of Selig. "It doesn't seem right to me."
Who knew baseball's tradition meant so much to the rebellious-looking guy with shoulder-length hair and an unconventional (but dominant) pitching delivery?
"I don't know, man. I don't see why you need to fix something that isn't broken," Lincecum continued. "Players like it the
"Nobody wants to have to worry, 'Oh (expletive), now I've got another (expletive) team in the (expletive) mix. Now we have to worry about what that takes and what they're going to do.' What if the (second) wild-card team is not deserving of getting in?"
Yes, he cursed. He does that when passionate about a cause (see: last season's postgame celebrations). His final thought might be the strongest part of his argument, even if players' health and baseball's tradition are valid concerns.
Introducing another wild-card team could mute the power of the stronger wild-card team, especially amid a quirky schedule. Will the best wild-card representative truly advance from that initial round, potentially a three-game series or a winner-take-all, one-game showdown/fluke?
Even if players are open to the expansion possibility, it won't be unanimous. Inside the reigning champions' clubhouse, Lincecum isn't alone in his convictions.
"I don't really like it. I like the format now," catcher Buster Posey said. "Baseball is unique because it's such a long season. The best teams are rewarded for all the effort that goes into that. You lose some of the mystique of the playoffs (with expansion). Like the first round of the NBA playoffs -- who cares?"
Outfielder Cody Ross, last season's playoff catalyst for the Giants, said: "I have mixed feelings. It makes it exciting, but I don't want baseball to turn into the NHL, where every team makes the playoffs (actually 16 of 30) and they're flooded with teams that shouldn't be in there."
This just in: Giants fans surely are now against expansion, too. Anything Lincecum says is gospel. He speaks, they listen. He grows long hair, they buy matching wigs. He smokes, they "... never mind.
Is he compelling enough to resist the temptation of more playoff games, more drama, more red-white-and-blue bunting?
"It will create more interest with more teams, and that's good for baseball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of adding a second wild-card team (the first postseason to include the wild card was in 1995). "But I'll have to sit and reflect on that."
Lincecum formed his opinion fast. He is qualified to speak on the matter, too. He went 4-1 last postseason, opening with a 14-strikeout, 1-0 win over the Braves, whom he will face Saturday.
Where does that two-hit masterpiece rank against his World Series-clinching victory in Game 5 at Texas, World Series-opening triumph in San Francisco and NLCS-opening win amid whistling fans at Philadelphia?
"They're all part of the same puzzle," Lincecum answered. "For me, that (Braves game) was getting my feet wet in the playoff atmosphere. It opened my eyes on what you need to do, what it takes."
As a result, he is willing to open his mouth and challenge any changes to a postseason format that just produced his first World Series ring.