As it pertains to the New York Mets, and the rest of Major League Baseball, the one game Wild Card playoff is absolutely perfect.
It’s about that time of the year. The very magical time of the baseball season that has fans all over the place screaming and crying about how awful the one-game wild card system is in Major League Baseball.
So, now that’s it’s October 2, let the full out bitching begin.
On Tuesday night, the American League Wild Card Game will take place. On Wednesday night, the New York Mets and Noah Syndergaard will fight for the right to play the Chicago Cubs in the National League’s version.
On Thursday, all of that aforementioned bitching will commence, in both leagues.
The losers of the wild card games will cry and howl at the moon all winter long. They’ll complain, kick the dirt, and pretend that the baseball gods are out to get them. They’ll simply put up that classic argument of, “Why should a hard fought season come down to the bounce of the ball in one singular game?”
Do us this one favor when running into one of those sore sports. Reply with the truth.
This is baseball. What makes the game so boring during the grind of 162 games is what makes it so exciting in October.
The bland boredom that comes when pitcher/batter duels go through every pitch, every foul ball, every thinking man’s situation in May, gets multiplied by 100 when it goes down in October.
When a batter steps out of the box to take a look at his third-base coach while the pitcher thinks about his next selection, October destroys May. When another foul ball transpires on a 3-2 count with two outs in the inning, fans are left wanting more, wondering what’ll happen on the next pitch.
The pure adrenaline that accompanies the Wild Card Game in this sense is nothing short of tournament bliss.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 1, 2016
It’s no secret that baseball has suffered through an identity crisis the last couple decades. We all understand the new pecking order as it relates to the major professional sports in this country.
First is the National Football League. When the internet went boom commenced and many onlookers discovered that Fantasy Football wasn’t just for calculating nerds with pocket protectors, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell capitalized.
Next, we have the National Basketball Association. It’s the hip, trendy place for the superstar faces to rake in their millions. They cross over into pop culture more frequently and seamlessly than anybody.
Finally, baseball comes into play. The sport that used to rival boxing, horse racing and college football for top billing, is now a distant third in terms of popularity across the nation. It still does very well in pockets, regionally, but it isn’t king anymore, like it once was.
Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper understands this. He’s taken it personally in coming up with his new “Make baseball fun again” campaign.
— AtTheBuzzer (@TheBuzzerOnFOX) July 12, 2016
Considering this, why would anybody want to cut down on baseball excitement?
Forcing the wild card into a best 2-of-3 or 3-of-5 scenario would, undoubtedly, cut down on the excitement. Each pitch, swing of the bat, and baseball situation would be cut down a tad.
Obviously, it wouldn’t destroy the overall importance. That’s not the point here.
What is the point, is that any more games in October will cut down on any drama it already provides.
The NBA and NHL had long gotten to the point that showcases too many playoff teams. 16 of 30 teams is just too many. The NFL equips its tournament with 12 teams, and its looking to increase this number.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 1, 2016
Part of baseball’s beauty, and why October is so breathtaking, is only 10 teams get into the dance. To be more precise, only eight teams (after the one game playoff finishes). Back when the sport was king, only four, or even two teams received a ticket to the tournament.
When the entire world already knows the recipe for drama is cutting down on quantity, why would anybody want to increase it?
The current system is perfect. It awards the best of the best (the divisional winners) and provides a secondary outlet for the rest.
There’s no question the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans have one nasty, legitimate gripe about what’s happened the past two seasons. No 90 win team deserves such a harsh fate two years in a row.
But this has been going on in baseball for decades.
In 1980, the 100-win Baltimore Orioles missed the playoffs. In 1978, the 99-win Boston Red Sox missed the dance. In 1993, the 103-win San Franciso Giants came up on the short end of the stick. And in 1985, the 98-win Mets and the 97-win New York Yankees weren’t invited to play in October.
This is baseball. It’s supposed to be like this. More interestingly, this happened during the time that baseball was king in this country.
Let’s not rewind the clock in effort to play the liberal game of making everybody happy.
These divisions are up for grabs every April. If a team doesn’t win the division, they have the route of the wild card. Unlike decades prior, they’re lucky to have that route. Nobody ever complained about the one-game playoff to determine a division. Why does the bitching and complaining start now with the wild card?
They were lucky enough to be playing in the year 2016, a year that allows an 87 or 88-win club into the bracket. And on Wednesday night at Citi Field in Flushing, New York, that opportunity is staring squarely in their faces.
It’s the opportunity of playing for the right to get to Wrigley Field for the National League Divisional Series.
Don’t take away the drama by thinking there’s something wrong with the one game wild card. It’s perfect the way it is.