Baseball's Wild-Card Change Drops the Ball: How I Would Fix It

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIMarch 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  The San Francisco Giants celebrate defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 and winning the pennant in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Baseball's new playoff format will add two more teams to the mix, along with added excitement for fans of those teams competing, but they completely blew the concept.

In the antiquated system in place before 1969, only one team from each league made the playoffs. They split into two divisions in each league that year, and in 1994, three divisions. 1995 was the year the wild card came on the scene.

It was enacted in part because of the injustice the San Francisco Giants suffered in 1993, finishing 103-59, but going home because they were unlucky enough to play in the same division as the 104-58 Atlanta Braves.

That's what's wrong with the new format, and nothing has been done to rectify it. It's possible one wild card team and maybe both have better records than two other division winners, yet they have to participate in a play-in game.

Since the change, 14 teams missed the playoffs even though they had a better record than one of the division winners.

Is that fair?

Should you be penalized for playing in a tough division, which is already a huge disadvantage since you play more games against those teams?

Since there will now be five teams making the playoffs in each league, wouldn't it make more sense to let the three teams with the best record in, with the other two fighting it out for the last spot?


If it were up to me, the top five would make it, period; divisions be damned.

Going back in history, you have the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals with an 83-78 record winning the World Series. In 1987, the Minnesota Twins were 85-77 during the season, but got hot when it counted and took home the crown.

Teams shouldn't be rewarded because they play in inferior divisions. If you're barely over .500, you shouldn't make the playoffs.

Since 1994, five Wild Card teams have won the World Series and five others made it.

The Wild Card has brought excitement to the game. Before, if your team was in a division with a runaway winner, you had no reason to watch.

That changed with the advent of the Wild Card. Despite the purists' objections, it was good for the game and the best decision Bud Selig has made as commissioner.


Adding more cities with an opportunity to make the postseason is the right thing to do. Baseball still trails every other sport in the percentage of teams that qualify for the playoffs, despite playing twice as many games.

As a fan, do you want to invest that much time and energy without a possible reward at the end?

This isn't Little League where everyone gets a ribbon, but you want it to be fair for all involved.

A team on the cusp of a Wild Card spot will have to go with their best pitcher in that game if the rotation allows it. Even if they win, that puts them at a disadvantage in the next series..

Meanwhile, a team with an inferior record sits back rested and waiting.

Once again, baseball drops the ball.

My solution is to put the top five teams in from each league and have the bottom two fight it out.

While I'm on a roll, get rid of the DH too.

Who's with me?