What's Wrong with MLB's Wild Card
As a baseball traditionalist, I despise the current postseason format in its entirety.
In 1994, it was announced that there was going to be three divisions with a best-of-five League Division Series to determine the two teams to compete in the best-of-seven LCS, instead of having two divisions and a best-of-seven League Championship Series to determine the pennant winner.
To complete the format, each league was going to have a wild card spot for the best non-division leading team. Thus, an extra round of playoffs was born, the League Division Series (LDS).
But, perhaps a better word for the first round is LSD because it is SO INSANELY STUPID!
The LDS has imposed parity in the postseason format that did not exist before.
Even though I am a traditionalist, I had no problem with LCS play from two division winners prior to 1994. At least fans could be assured that two quality teams were competing for the pennant.
However, with the introduction of the LDS, sometimes the best team does not get to represent its league in the World Series. The Wild Card team receives footing equal to that of the No. 1 team in the entire league.
In each World Series since 2002, at least one wild card team has appeared in the Fall Classic.
In 2002, the World Series featured two wild card teams: Angels (AL) v. Giants (NL). The Angels won the World Series in seven games.
In 2003, the National League pennant winner was a wild card team: Yankees (AL) v. Marlins (NL). The Marlins won in six games in the World Series.
In 2004, the American League pennant winner was a wild card team: Red Sox (AL) v. St. Louis Cardinals (NL). The Red Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep.
In 2005, the National League pennant winner was a wild card team: White Sox (AL) v. Astros (NL). The White Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep.
In 2006, the American League pennant winner was a wild card team: Tigers (AL) v. Cardinals (NL). The Cardinals won the World Series in five games.
In 2007, the National League pennant winner was a wild card team: Red Sox (AL) v. Rockies (NL). The Red Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep.
Why have the wild card teams been able to do so very well in the playoffs? I can offer three specific reasons:
1. The LDS is a best-of-five series, which is WAY TOO SHORT. It should be at the very least a best-of-seven series!
2. The wild card team should face the No. 1 team in its league. However, there is a rule that if the No. 1 team in the league happens to be in the same division as the wild card team, the wild card team faces the No. 2 team in the league in the LDS and the No. 1 team faces the No. 3 team.
That is stupid! It actually punishes the No. 1 team who has to face a division winning team in the opening round.
3. Parity in the playoff format gives no advantage to the No. 1 team in the league.
Here is my solution: Get rid of the wild card completely. Keep the divisions the way they are and have three division winners per league!
The No. 1 team should be given an automatic berth in the LCS. That team will face the winner of a best-of-seven LDS between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams.
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