In November of 2011, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced the expansion of an extra team from each league making the playoffs. This fifth wild card team would play the winner of the leagues wild card in a one game playoff. The winner would advance into the MLB playoffs, playing one of the three divisional winners of their respective leagues.
The wild card has been in existence since 1994, when the MLB expanded from two divisions in each league to three. This allowed for four teams in the playoffs, rather than one team getting a bye.
Winning your division is already tough enough. If the MLB is trying to make more money from the two extra playoff games, then why don’t they make it more interesting?
Since 1994, four of the teams who won the wild card game went on to win the World Series (1997 Marlins, 2002 Angels, 2004 Red Sox, 2011 Cardinals). Five teams have gone on to lose the World Series (2000 Mets, 2002 Giants, 2005 Astros, 2006 Tigers, 2007 Rockies). The Angels beat the Giants in the 2002 World Series, the only World Series to ever feature both wild card winners.
The additional team to to the playoffs does make the September battles a lot more interesting, but a one-game playoff just isn’t enough. For example, the Cleveland Indians, in 2013, finished their last 50 games with a record of 30 wins and 20 losses, passing the Rangers and the Rays on the way. The Indians then lost to the Rays, 0-4, and Cleveland’s winning efforts were completely forgotten. One of the ways the MLB can prevent this, and/or make it better, is by changing the one-game playoff to a best-of-three series. In this case, the higher seed would have home field advantage in games one and game three, necessary a third game.
Be there the addition of this rule, the two teams that win the wild card spots would have to put on a great show, and play their best baseball. The best team will win this series, and that’s what we all want to see. Some people may think the one-game playoff is fine, but many think there needs to be a change. As the years pass, maybe the MLB will change something. Only time will tell. Vote below on how you feel about the MLB’s wild card game.