Purists and critics complain that far too many wild card baseball teams have been making it to—even winning—the World Series. These teams weren't even good enough to win their own division, for crying out loud!
Yet, once these second place outfits get on a roll and get into the postseason, they start knocking off other teams.
In 2007, it was the Colorado Rockies in the National League. The 2006 Tigers and 2005 Astros also made it to the Fall Classic.
In 2004 the Red Sox used the wild card route to make the postseason before stunning the world with their record-setting triumph over the Yankees in the ALCS, and an anti-climatic sweep over St. Louis in the Fall Classic.
1997 and 2003 Marlins, 2002 Angels and Giants, and on and on.
Based on the current format, wild card teams do not have home field advantage in the Division Series or League Championship Series, regardless of their win-loss records. It is possible for a wild card team to have a better record than a division winner, but the latter will have the extra home game.
But if wild card teams are having such success—or luck—why not give them more of a disadvantage, or penalty, if you will, for not winning their divisions?
At the present time, the Division Series is a best-of-five, with the series going 2-2-1 and the wild card team having the middle two games.
A wild card team could potentially split the first two, go home for the middle two games and sweep them, then move on to the League Championship Series.
I propose the following to eliminate such an advantage for these non-division champs: let the wild card host the first game.
Yes, you heard me right. The first game should be hosted by the "inferior" team. The division winner would then host the remaining four games of the series.
That's right, a 1-4 format with the wild card team getting just one home game, without the possibility of that home game coming at the pivotal middle matches.
If a wild card team can survive that, then kudos to them.
And let's say that team makes it past the Division Series and moves on to the League Championship Series. Again, the current 2-3-2 format could be favorable, so I’d suggest a 3-2-2 schedule, with the division champ hosting five of a possible seven contests.
Under this proposed format, if the wild card team somehow survives the first three games going 2-1, they would be forced to win their two lone home games. Otherwise, they’d have to return to enemy territory to try and advance to the World Series.
This kind of postseason reformatting will probably never happen. But if baseball wants to eliminate the wild card advantage, they must develop an unconventional schedule.
Does anyone else out there have any bright ideas for the wild card?