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Changing The Wild Card Game Format — Non-Sour Grapes Edition

View from PNC Park Photo by Laura Berzonski for TPOP

View from PNC Park
Photo by Laura Berzonski for TPOP

The Pirates won 98 games this year. The Cubs won 97 games this year. They were the 2nd and 3rd best teams in all of baseball. They just had the misfortune of being in the same division as the best team in baseball, the Cardinals.

It was the first time in MLB history that the top three teams in baseball were all in the same division. That means it was a statistical anomaly. The whole format shouldn’t be changed just because the Pirates got the short end of the stick one year. Look at the AL Wild Card with two teams with 87 and 86 wins — that’s not that impressive.

Rather, what I’ve been proposing for a while now is to change the Wild Card to a 3 game format, not just because my favorite team keeps getting stuck in it. Six months of hard work, sweat, and effort shouldn’t come down to a coin flip one game do-or-die.

Look at 2014’s Wild Card game against the Giants. Madison Bumgarner was not going to be beaten by the reincarnation of the ’27 Yankees. But the rest of the Giants rotation was eminently beatable. Last night, the Pirates had to face the cybernetically-enhanced metahuman designated ‘Jake Arrieta’ with the hipster beard upgrade. They lost (spoiler alert). But I would have taken my chances against Lester and Hammel versus Liriano and Happ.

There are a plethora of ways to tackle the Wild Card Reformation Project, but here are two:

  1. Shorten the season back to 154 games (hop into the DeLorean and set the flux capacitor for 1961!). Now you can have a 3 game series spread over five days with a travel day between each game. Plus the season won’t go past Halloween, most likely.
  2. In lieu of the teams complaining about lost revenue, even though they would just up the price of ticket accordingly, reduce the season to 160 games. Each team would only lose one home game. The season would be extended by three days, so MLB would have to be willing to start the season on or around April 1st, regardless of it being a Sunday night or not.

After wandering through the desert of MLB for 20 years, having the Pirates involved in postseason play of any fashion is an unadulterated treat. This is not pure sour grapes, as there are plenty of people from all MLB fanbases griping about this. The wild card and then the advent of the second wild card team have injected so much enthusiasm into so many different franchises and their fanbases — it just needs tweaked a little bit.

P.S. — This post is short and not entirely interesting, but that’s what happens when your team loses in the Wild Card and your originally scheduled post about the Cardinals is voided. Plus there were no other posts ready in the queue. It’s better than my other idea to drape the homepage in black today.

About Kevin Creagh (221 Articles)
Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

5 Comments on Changing The Wild Card Game Format — Non-Sour Grapes Edition

  1. Dave Barkovich // October 8, 2015 at 7:54 AM // Reply

    Agreed, especially about shortening the season. No baseball in Nov and no hockey in June for that matter.

  2. Benjamin Craven // October 8, 2015 at 4:43 PM // Reply

    Or make it “Wild”, best out of three with the first two being a double header. That way you’ll only need another day if it’s a tie.

  3. The problem I see is what is the team that won their division, waiting to play the Wildcard game winner doing for these extra 2 days? If the season would end on a Sunday (Like this year), Monday for any tiebreaker. Tues, Wed, Thur for both wild card games, the earliest would be Friday for the first playoff game, which means the div winner has not played for 5 days. Very unfair to them.

    • Kevin Creagh // October 9, 2015 at 11:12 AM // Reply

      I could make a counter argument to that statement by saying that winning the Divison would allow that team to completely reset their rotation, get healthy, and get rest.
      Think of the NFL — there are whole bye weeks for the top seeds in the playoffs.

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