Take a look at this table. It shows how often the best team in baseball (via W-L record) has won the World Series in the wild card era. It's happened twice ('98 Yanks, '07 Sox), and just as often as the team with the worst record ('00 Yanks, '06 Cards). Not comforting when it looks like the Yankees will end up with the best record in baseball.
The wild card was instituted in 1995 with the purpose of bringing fans back after the strike. The hope was that it would give more teams (and their fans) meaningful games in the latter half of the season.
Was it really needed? Was there not enough diversity in title contenders? It certainly hasn't helped playoff TV ratings, which have dropped precipitously since the strike.
From 1980-1993, there were nine different AL pennant winners and eight different NL pennant winners.
In the Wild Card era, there've been seven different AL pennant winners and 10 different NL pennant winners.
Perhaps this is just a rant because I'm pissed that the Yanks haven't done what they should have in October in the last eight years. But it boils down to this question: which is the better measure of a team? 162 games, or seven? I mean, the f'ing Nationals took two of three from the Yanks, but they are/were clearly not the better team.
If it was the large disparity in payroll MLB was concerned with, it didn't hurt medium and small market teams before 1995. Look who won the pennants: Kansas City! Can you imagine them doing anything in the modern era? Minnesota! They haven't made it past the LCS since 1991. Milwaukee even won a pennant! How the hell did that happen? And what about Cincy, Oakland and Toronto?! (Montreal(!) had the best record in baseball at the time of the '94 strike.)
The wild card era playoffs have merely become a question of who gets hot at the right time.