Realignment, the Bud Selig way. Ugh.
OK, let's start with what's good about it. Expanding the playoffs with a one-game play in...well, it's not my favorite solution, but I guess I mildly prefer it to the status quo. The big plus is that it restores, to a very large extent, the possibility of two great teams having a meaningful pennant race (fine, I know, division-title race). That's been missing since the realignment after 1993, and it's a big deal, IMO. I think Christina Kahrl doesn't give enough credit to that in her discussion of it.
But otherwise, Christina is right and this stinks.
First...you know what? I'm not convinced that anyone likes interleague play, other than for the intracity rivalries. The only worthwhile thing about it, as far as I'm concerned, is that it did break up the schedule a bit, which isn't a bad thing over a six month season. It was a nice little ritual that helped shape things. That's to be gone now, replaced by one interleague matchup at all times. And forever: it's going to be a real pain to get around it, although I suppose that another round of expansion will come sooner or later. So there's that.
More importantly, the problem with Wild Cards in general is that it's a format that's bad for meaningful games. In the first half of two thirds of the season, a WC contender doesn't even know who its competition is, so you can't get all excited for the big games. That stinks.
Then -- well, it depends, and I don't think we know yet whether we're headed for a balanced or unbalanced schedule. Both work badly with WCs. Unbalanced (lots of games within the division) works badly because it introduces unfairness, since teams competing for the same slot play very different schedules (note that interleague play adds to the problem). A balanced schedule solves that, but it's bad for meaningful and rivalry games.
WCs are, indeed, bad for rivalries in general. The normal course of things in league or division competition is that you build rivalries by having hard-fought, meaningful contests. If you have relatively small divisions, and unbalanced schedules, you build history with the other division teams over the years. Part of what that does is cushion against the down years -- Giants fans loved knocking the Dodgers out in 1982, and Dodgers fans loved returning the favor in 1993.
Oh, odd numbers of teams in each division are a problem, too, because it means that one team has to be playing out of the division at the end of the season, thus reducing the chance of great head-to-head elimination series (like the great Tigers/Blue Jays last week in 1987).
Now, the other thing I'd say about the Selig re-alignment is that I think the odds of it being long-term stable are very low. The odds of something that seems horribly unfair are high, whether it's a sub-90 (or sub-81) win division winner getting in automatically while two better (higher win) teams have to play in, or a play-in game between two WCs with a huge spread between their records, or a few other possibilities (again, see Christina's article). I'm mostly OK with those things, but people will see them as unfair, and they'll wind up changing it depending on the random draw of which "unfair" things happen first.
All in all, I'm not thrilled but not too upset about the 2nd WC (I'm still convinced that there's a much better solution out there), but I'm definitely not happy about the 15/15 business.
It really is like Bud Selig doesn't understand the product he's selling, isn't it? I mean, football doesn't need to worry about meaningful games, because with their schedule every game is an event. That's great, for football. But baseball just has different strengths, and its schedule should be set up to emphasize the strengths. Selig just doesn't get that.