Baseball

MLB: Why the Wild Card Should Be Best of Three

Via Harry How/Getty Images

Changes may be coming for Major League Baseball and its current postseason format. As of now, the format is 10 teams, five per league, with three division winners and two Wild Cards that play each other in a one-game playoff to decide who goes to the Division Series. Yet many fans feel as though the one-game, sudden death scenario is too unpredictable, and that it should be a series rather than just a single game. Here is why the Wild Card should be best of three instead of just one game.

Expanded Postseason

Over the past few years, an idea that has been on the table has been the expansion of the postseason field. For some time, the owners and the league have wanted to increase the number of teams to 14. If this were to happen, seven teams per league would reach the postseason. While the top seed would get a bye for the first round, the remaining teams would duke it out in a best of three Wild Card series, with the higher seed hosting all three games.

We’ve already seen this come to fruition. The pandemic-shortened 2020 season saw the postseason field expand to 16 teams, with eight teams per league reaching the playoffs. For that postseason, the best of three Wild Card round format was implemented.

The league returned to the 10-team format in 2021, but during CBA negotiations after the season, the owners once again proposed the 14-team format. The players rejected the proposal, and instead countered with the idea of a 12-team postseason.

We don’t know for certain if Major League Baseball will decide to shift to an expanded postseason format once the next CBA is agreed upon, but it’s an idea that’s still on the table.

Why the Wild Card Should Be Best of Three

The 10-team format has been in place since 2012, and the Wild Card game has added some extra excitement and drama. But times are changing. Both the NBA and the NFL have chosen to expand their playoff fields. Sooner or later, baseball will have to roll with the times.

As previously mentioned, we can’t be sure if the league will expand the postseason. However, if that does not happen, the league should at least expand the Wild Card round to a best of three series.

One game may add a little extra excitement and drama, but it’s just too unpredictable. For example, in 2015, the NL Central division featured three playoff teams. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs respectively had the top three records in baseball, finishing within just a few games of each other. The 98-win Pirates and the 97-win Cubs went toe-to-toe in the Wild Card game. The Cubs went on to win by a final of 4-0.

In a matter of hours, the Pirates season was over. After a year of dominance, it only took one game to send Pittsburgh home, and we never got to see what that team was capable of in the postseason. The sudden death scenario needs to become a thing of the past and shift into a best of three series. That way, we’ll have more time to see what certain teams are capable of doing. We’ll be able to better analyze the matchups and each team if there’s more than just a single game. It’ll also add some revenue for the league.

Major League Baseball needs to adapt to changing teams and an ever-evolving sports world. More games can only mean more excitement, and that is why the Wild Card should be best of three.

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