It’s that time of the year, playoff baseball is upon us again. With the MLB regular season wrapping up this weekend, the playoffs will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The first two match-ups of the playoffs will be one-game playoff series between the two wild card teams from each league.
The one-game wild card playoff format started in 2012 when Major League Baseball decided to add a fifth Wild Card team to the playoff bracket. Previously only four teams from each league made the playoffs. While many support the idea of having a fifth team make the postseason, many would argue that having a one-game wild card series is not a good idea. I tend to agree.
Baseball is a game of series. The entire regular season consists of either two, three or four- game series. The divisional playoff round is a five game series. The championship round and the World Series are both seven game series. How is a one-game series the best way to decide which wild card team moves on to the divisional round? It’s not fair. There is no other way of putting it.
There is so much that goes into one baseball game. The away team is already at a disadvantage because of traveling. The weather is also another factor. A team could have it’s ace on the mound during the wild card game only to have a two hour rain delay in the middle of the game. Obviously a new pitcher would have to take over, which could potentially change the game completely. There might be an instance where a star player on a team needs to sit out due to health concerns. You could come up with several other problems that teams could face for just one game, but the point is that having two teams decide their fate over one game is silly.
The American League Wild Card game will be the first game played in the Wild Card round, and will feature the Houston Astros (86-76) and the New York Yankees (87-75) on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 8 pm on ESPN from Yankee Stadium.
East: Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)
Central: Kansas City Royals (95-67)
West: Texas Rangers (88-74)
In the American League, the division winners finished with a better record than the Wild Card teams. Even though the division winners have better records than the wild card teams in the AL, both teams are right behind the Rangers in terms of records. The winner of the Astros and Yankees game will travel to Kansas City for the divisional round to face the Royals starting on Thursday. The other divisional match-up will be the Rangers traveling to Toronto to face the Blue Jays, also starting Thursday.
Now let’s look at the National League standings and Wild Card match-up. The Wild Card game will be at PNC Park as the Chicago Cubs (97-65) square off against the Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) on Wednesday, Oct. at 8 pm on TBS.
East: New York Mets (90-72)
Central: St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)
West: Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)
From looking at the standings, the Wild Card game will be played between two teams that are both from the NL Central and both have better records than the Mets and the Dodgers. Again, how is a one-game playoff fair for two teams that are better than two division winners in their conference? It makes no sense at all. Sure, the division winners won their respective divisions and should be in the divisional series. The Wild Card series needs to be at least three games to ensure that the more talented, better team advances to the divisional round. It would also be more fun to watch a three game series over a one game playoff based on the stories that would come out of a three game set.
The winner of the Cubs and Pirates game will advance to the divisional round and travel to St. Louis to face the Cardinals starting on Friday. The other divisional series will be the Mets facing the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, also starting on Friday.
I get what led Major League Baseball to the one-game playoff. The World Series already ends at the beginning of November and they do not want to push it back. Still, a three-game Wild Card series would push the season back only three or four days. Is that a drastic change? No. After this week when either Pirates fans or Cubs fans are very angry with how their teams’ season ended, Major League Baseball should hold a conference and talk about changing the Wild Card series format.
Even though I have strong feelings about the Wild Card format, I am still going to enjoy the playoffs, and you should too. October is a fun month for baseball fans and the best of the best will battle it out for a World Series title. Be sure to tune into the Wild Card games this week and enjoy the postseason!