By R.D. Ferman
The most predictable part of the final week of the MLB regular season is broadcasters ranting about the ‘sudden death’ nature of the one game, wild card playoff. Many argue that the wild card round should be a best of 3 game or 5 game series. They contend that it is not fair how one simple game determines what team advances to the divisional series. Not fair? Dude, your team had 162 games to win its division! 162 games? How is that not fair?
162 games should be enough for professionals to figure out their batting order, sort out their rotation, and set bullpen responsibilities. If anything, a team should be thrilled to get a 50/50 second chance after failing to secure a division title over a 162 game campaign. Better yet, MLB should borrow a term from professional tennis and refer to the wild card round as the ‘lucky loser’ game. ‘Wild card’ is just too darn forgiving.
The one game winner-take-all playoff preserves the meaningfulness of the regular season and intensifies divisional rivalries. Since its inception, the extra round encourages more teams to retain their top players instead of trading away in a never-ending rebuilding cycle. Baseball season is already too long – to suggest more games is absolutely insane. If the madness does not stop, we could be playing baseball in December by the mid 2020s. The only logical adjustment would be for MLB to revert back to a 154 game regular season schedule and expand the divisional series round to a best of 7 game format. But, keep the wild card round at 1 game! Winner take all!
R.D. Ferman lives in Manhattan. He loves sports, has never acted in a play, does not have any tattoos, and has never smoked weed.