‘Is it Fair? No, It’s Not Fair. Is It Fun? Absolutely.’


BOSTON — The wild-card sport is just not truthful. Long stay the wild-card sport.

Those could be contradictory opinions, however it all will depend on your perspective. If you’re a participant, you hate it. If you’re a viewer, you’re keen on it.

“Is it fair? No, it’s not fair,” Curtis Granderson, the previous main league outfielder, mentioned on Tuesday. “Is it fun? Absolutely.”

The Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox, 6-2, within the American League wild-card sport at Fenway Park on Tuesday, a day earlier than the National League sport between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. The winner of every advances to a division sequence, which means that the Dodgers are already dealing with elimination regardless of tying their franchise record for victories with 106.

The motive is a quirk: As nice because the Dodgers have been, they performed in the identical division because the San Francisco Giants, who have been one sport higher. The Cardinals wanted solely 90 victories to share the stage.

“There’s no crying in baseball. We’re in second place. We’re in the Wild Card game,” mentioned Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer, who additionally mentioned he preferred that the playoff format inspired competitors to the very finish of the season.

“If I’m playing on a team that just won 100 games, I want to have the right to be out there and kind of stretch my chances for at least three games — not just one and done,” mentioned the Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who will analyze the playoffs for TBS with Granderson and Jimmy Rollins. “The efforts of my entire team, my entire organization, going down the drain by losing one game? One little mistake?”

Martinez gained his solely championship with a wild-card group, the 2004 Red Sox. Back then, baseball gave a wild-card berth to only one group in every league, and the playoffs began with the best-of-five division sequence. The format modified in 2012, with every league staging a knockout sport between two wild playing cards to open the postseason.

The video games have usually introduced excessive drama: rollicking comebacks in Kansas City and Washington, a walk-off homer by Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto, two highway shutouts by Madison Bumgarner for the Giants. Whatever you consider the format, its pull is irresistible.

“I’m going to watch both games, and I’m going to enjoy them as a spectator,” mentioned Bud Black, who has gained a wild-card sport and misplaced one other because the Colorado Rockies’ supervisor. “But when it’s over that quickly — bam, you’re done. You’d like to have a chance to show why you got into the playoffs with at least three games. I think that’s the viewpoint of any player, manager, general manager, coach. But from a fan’s standpoint, they’re great.”

Should baseball hold the wild-card sport as a result of it’s a lot enjoyable? Or kill it as a result of it’s a gimmicky manner for a group to threat its season? Ultimately, it appears, neither query is related.

As Major League Baseball and the gamers’ union negotiate a brand new collective bargaining settlement, they’ll strongly think about increasing the playoffs. Creating extra content material is a simple option to increase income, and final 12 months’s 16-team subject — a money seize after a 60-game common season — affords a template.

“I thought last year was pretty cool,” Black mentioned. “I know it was a different year with the pandemic, but if somehow through negotiations we could shorten the season a bit — not much, 152, 154 games, whatever the number is — add another team or two and play two out of three, I think that works. And maybe with that time frame, not as many days off between series. Make it like the regular season: You play consecutive games, you get on a plane, you play the next day. Those things could be worked out, so you don’t drag it out a great deal.”

For most of baseball historical past, the regular-season champions of every league superior on to the World Series. The 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers (104-50) had a fair higher successful share than this 12 months’s Dodger group, however misplaced the N.L. pennant to the Cardinals.

“I was with the Cubs when we were nosed out on three or four championships, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through,” Dodgers second baseman Billy Herman mentioned within the subsequent day’s Brooklyn Eagle. “When you win 104 games and finish second, there isn’t anything to say.”

The format lastly modified in 1969, when baseball break up into 4 divisions and added the League Championship Series. That was the one playoff spherical by 1993, when the Giants gained 103 video games however misplaced the N.L. West by a sport to Atlanta.

“You just accepted it,” mentioned Black, who pitched for the Giants then. “We were conditioned to that: You either win your division or not. But it was such a good year and we played so well, we did feel a little shorted.”

While Black mentioned he felt for the 2021 Dodgers, others from his period don’t. Ken Singleton, who retired final weekend as a Yankees broadcaster, as soon as performed for six second-place groups in an eight-year span with Baltimore. In 1980, the Orioles gained 100 video games however misplaced the A.L. East to the Yankees; they might have welcomed even a one-game playoff ticket.

“Who knows, we might have gone on to win the World Series — but there was no wild card in those days,” Singleton mentioned. “The Dodgers are in the playoffs. We weren’t. So I don’t have much sympathy for them.”

Four groups have used the wild-card sport to launch a run to the World Series, with the 2014 Giants and the 2019 Nationals successful the championship. Singleton mentioned he hoped the playoff format would keep as it is, as a result of the postseason can stretch to November already. He doesn’t thoughts that the unbalanced schedule places an emphasis on divisional play.

“When the Red Sox won the division in 2018, they went 16-3 against the Orioles,” Singleton mentioned. “When the Yankees won in 2019, they went 17-2 against the Orioles. And this year, the Rays went 18-1 against them. So in a way, the Orioles hold the key to the division. If you play great against them, you’re going to win.”

The Orioles misplaced 110 games this season, tying with the Arizona Diamondbacks for probably the most within the majors. And how did the Giants and the Dodgers do towards the Diamondbacks within the N.L. West?

The Giants beat them 17 instances, and the Dodgers beat them 16 instances. That one sport was the distinction within the division.



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