One-Game Wild-Card Playoff

Either the Yankees of the Red Sox are screwed this year. They’re both playing great, have enthusiastic fan bases, and are two of the most historic franchises in all of sports. They both have mountains of cash to spend and will probably be active at the trading deadlines with additional piles of money. So, how are they screwed?

(Assuming they continue on track, don’t hit slumps and one of them clinches the wild card)

2015 Pittsburg Pirates Anyone? Anyone?

If you’re not a Pirates fan, you might not know the horror referenced from 2015. If you are a fan, then you’re probably crying in your beer right now.

In 2015, the Pirates had the second-best record in all of baseball. Unfortunately, they were in the same division as the St. Louis Cardinals, who had the best record in all of baseball. The Pirates clinched the wild card and played a game against the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta. Arrieta shut them down with a complete-game 4-0 shutout. The team with the second-best record in the regular season was sent packing from the playoffs after only a one-game wild-card playoff.

Not fair, right? Well, watch out Yankee and Red Sox fans. It could happen to one of you.

Does the One-Game Wild-Card Playoff Need to be Fixed?

To some, baseball season drags on forever. Some argue that a wildcard playoff would drag it out longer. No one really likes worrying about snow with America’s past-time.

Well, maybe Yankee or Red Sox fans want that.

The Yankees have the best record in all of baseball and the Red Sox are second (the Astros, in the AL West, are a close third).  One of those teams will most likely be a wild-card team and face a one-game playoff. In 2015, the Pirates may have been a better team than the Cubs, but the Cubs had Jake Arrieta, the best pitcher in baseball that year (22-6, 1.77 ERA). The best pitcher for one game? Even against a better team, the odds are pretty good.

Every Game an Elimination Game Works for March Madness

To this writer, the NCAA Basketball Tournament is the best sporting event in the world. One-game eliminations from the beginning to the end make for exciting sports. David often beats Goliath – and that would almost never happen in a best of three, five, or seven. But, does that work in baseball? Especially professional baseball? One pitcher can make a difference – one great pitcher can give the lesser team an advantage for a lone contest.

Yes, it works for March Madness, but it often doesn’t work for the MLB, and 2018 just might turn out to be one of those seasons where good intentions might have bad consequences.