Thursday Rockpile: Unfairness of the wild card system

Brian Kersey

I am happy for Clint Hurdle, but should the Cardinals, after 162 games, have to face the Pirates after beating them by three games in the regular season? Should Boston have to face Tampa Bay after beating them by five and a half games and head-to-head 12-7 during the regular season?

While the wild card has been kind to the Colorado Rockies (we would have never seen the post-season without it), its addition has skewed the playoffs even farther from the concept of determining the best team in baseball. MLB has added the second wild card team with a play-in game between the two in an effort to give an advantage to division winners (and make more money), but we will have to wait and see if this helps or further hurts the system.

As Jeff Aberle wrote in the Rockpile yesterday, the current playoff system does not test teams the same way as compared to a regular season. A playoff rotation needs to only be three deep instead of four, the bullpen can then be adjusted to use converted starters and off days mean that all relievers are available every night. To continue the excellent discussion that was started yesterday in the Rockpile comments, I provide some of your best ideas and some of my own.

First, either the unbalanced schedule or the wild card should go away. I am in favor of the unbalanced schedule so I say remove the wild card. The wild card rewards teams that are hot at the end of the year far more than rewarding teams that have put together a strong season throughout. If a team gets hot and just makes it in, they can make quick work of the competition and make it to the World Series, a la the 2007 Colorado Rockies. While this was a great ride for us, it doesn't seem fair in my mind to the teams that were able to put an entire seasons together.

The best way to make up for the loss of the wild card would be to expand to 32 teams and have eight divisions, similar to the NFL. This was an idea brought up yesterday that I am stealing for the article. If this cannot be agreed to by the owners and we stay with the current teams, than I would suggest going back to two divisions in each league and the top two teams from each make the playoffs. Either way, the playoffs should to have more games in a shorter amount of time.

I do not have a problem with a five game division series, nor would I have a problem with a seven game division series, but my new caveat is that there are no days off during the series. This eliminates the benefit teams gain by shortening their rotation and bullpen and makes it more like the regular season. It would also make the trade deadline more exciting, in my opinion, as even teams with the best records would be looking to add a quality fifth starter. I also do not have an opinion about the League Championship and World Series staying at seven games or going to nine, but again limit the down days. In either the best of seven or best of nine series the only off day should be after the fifth game.

I enjoyed the discussion related to this topic yesterday and hope that this spawns more of the same. I hope to hear more good ideas as we try and remain interested in teams other than the Rockies playing baseball.


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