The MLB regular season is 162 games. Somehow this works out perfectly. 162. September is always filled with the excitement of playoff races. Four to five teams competing to stay alive and fill the last few spots remaining for the playoffs. It at time seems magical. New heroes step up and carry teams. Underrated pitching staffs come together at the right time. Managers make all the right moves and seem to put their team in position to win every night. This is a beautiful time of the year. But all this magic leads me to ponder one question… Why the heck is there a one game playoff for the two wildcard teams?!
This is a bad move that negatively effects so many different people. The wild card is a beautiful thing. Every year we have a new up and coming team that has spent years, sometimes decades, for an opportunity to prove their worth against the big spending powerhouses. Possible examples in the AL this year include the Orioles, Indians, and Royals. One of these teams happens to be MY team. However, I am going to look at multiple perspectives.
I watch the playoffs every year. It doesn’t matter who is in the playoffs, I still watch it. I watch it because you never know who is going to step up. For example, who was Cole Hamels before the Phillies won the World Series? Who was David Freese before the Cardinals won? Who was Derek Holland (with his terrible, yet awesome mustache) before the Rangers made it to the World Series and ALCS multiple years? I remember these players. When I turn on a game on ESPN, FOX, or any network. I will turn to something else if the Royals are playing the Twins. Why? I just don’t care. Who the heck is pitching? Who is worth watching? The wildcard gives these teams a chance to introduce the nation to a player we have never noticed before because they have been buried by years of losing seasons. The MLB has dropped the ball.
I compare a starting pitching staff in the MLB to a QB in the NFL. If you don’t have a solid starting QB, chances are you aren’t going far. Here’s where the wildcard screws with this mindset. One game means you get to display one pitcher. If you have one ace, and 4 mediocre starters, you are going to start the ace. Chances are you will be moving on. What about the team that has three #2 starters and two #3′s? You need to give teams a chance to play more than one pitcher in their rotation. Instead, they sit helplessly on the bench and get no chance to contribute to the teams “playoff run” or “playoff step” if we want to put it in realistic terms. You are denying the team a chance to prove their worth, and denying the nation a chance to witness new talent. The team’s third starter may just be the league’s next ace, but instead he’s on the bench and has to sit through another off-season with his confidence stalled because he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the playoffs. 162 games. How can you deny the ENTIRE team a chance to contribute.
I’m not saying make the wild card a seven game series. I am not saying make it a five game series (although this would be ideal in my opinion). What I am saying is make it a best of three… AT LEAST. This is comparative to the BCS system in college football. A team that loses early in the year, but pulls it together in the final stretch should get an opportunity to prove it deserves to be there. ONE game does not do anybody any justice. MLB should drop this system, the same way they dropped the ball in the first place.