MLB wildcard game brings excitement, criticism to bat

Dakota Ratley

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In 2012, Major League Baseball made a major change to their postseason. The creation of the two-team wildcard system has been both praised and criticized. It has been heralded as a way to add excitement to the baseball postseason, but is it entirely fair?

The answer to that question is “no.”

In a MLB season, there are 162 games played in the regular season. These 162 games decide the division winners and two wild card teams for both the American League and National League.

From 1995 to 2011, there was one wild card spot to which all teams who could not win their division fought for. However, the 2012 season brought upon the second wild card slot.

With this additional slot, came an extra game. The Wild Card playoff round features both wild card teams going against each other in one game to determine who moves on. Despite playing 162 games, and possibly having a much better record, the team who loses this one game goes home.

This implementation of the Wild Card playoff is not necessarily a bad decision, but just bad execution.

The World Series is a best of seven series, the League Championship Series is a best of seven series, and the Division Series is a best of five series.

Why shouldn’t the Wild Card Playoff be at least a best of three series?

It’s pretty unfair for any team in this position. Baseball is a game in which the worst team could beat the best team in a single game and no one thinks anything of it.

This is why the MLB has the playoff series format to begin with. Playing one game does not determine whom the best team is.

The argument for the one-playoff game system is that it creates excitement of a game five or game seven. That is simply untrue. An actual game five or game seven creates that excitement. This one game playoff almost feels like just one more game during the regular season.

Looking back on baseball history, there have been many classic series:

The 2001 World Series between the Diamondback and the Yankees, in which there were three walk-offs, the 1999 NLCS where the Braves beat the Mets in an epic six game series- where each game was decided by two or fewer runs- and even the 2011 World Series that featured an epic game six in which the Cardinals were one strike away from elimination twice, but went on to win the game and the series over the Rangers. All of these are classics.

That’s something that a one game playoff will simply never be.