MLB has announced that its new playoff system with two Wild Cards in each league will go into effect this season. But in typical baseball fashion, the league can’t get its act together to do it properly.
The two top non-division winners will face off in a one-game playoff to determine which team moves onto the divisional series. It provides more incentive for teams to win the division, but this means theoretically a third-place team could keep advancing and win the World Series. A third-place team (It could also mean more “sexy superfans” but that’s just a bonus!).
But here’s where MLB showed its incompetence. For this season only, the team with the worse record will open up the divisional playoffs with two home games, followed by three at the superior team. After this season it reverts back to the much more fair 2-2-1 format, with the first two games at the better team’s stadium.
This is because the 2-2-1 format requires an extra day off, and MLB couldn’t figure out a way to fit the Wild Card game into the already-set playoff schedule. The league has seven months to work it out, and it can’t do it. Why is it that every other league can schedule home games in the playoffs within just a few days but baseball cannot do it with many, many months to spare?
In any case, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the Mets would have been the second Wild Card in 2007 and 2008, making those collapses far less agonizing. It also keeps more teams in contention deeper into the season and does indeed reward division winners.
But if there were a second Wild Card last year we wouldn’t have had that final day of the season — perhaps the greatest and most dramatic day in baseball history. I would also feel bad if a 95-win team that just misses winning the division has a bad Wild Card game and loses to a team that barely finished above . 500.
In the end, it increases every team’s chances of being in the playoffs. That’s good because the Mets need all the help they can get.