Unless something wild happens over the next 11 games—like the Yankees winning every remaining game and the Red Sox losing out—the Bombers will meet the Athletics for a one-game playoff on October 3rd. Whether that will take place in the Bronx or in Oakland remains to be seen. The one thing we do know for sure is that the Wild Card Game is terrible.
I have never been a fan of the one-or-done, do-or-die game. That’s not just because I don’t want to see my favorite team ousted from the playoffs early. The baseball season is long. During the regular season, teams never play a one-game series. That isn’t a thing. The rest of the postseason series are five and seven games, almost like we all know that the outcome of one single game isn’t a good way of determining who the better team is. (Someone will say that playing a Game Five or Game Seven is no different. I disagree. If it gets to that point then one of those teams had a chance to clinch and blew it.)
That’s not to mention the fact that it just doesn’t feel right that the third best team in ALL of baseball should be forced to play a one-game playoff to advance. Remember when the Pirates had the second best record in baseball in 2015 and were bounced from the playoffs in the Wild Card Game? I’m no Pirates fan, but that had to hurt.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but thinking ahead to that Yankees-Athletics game makes me feel pukey. I plan on watching with my hands over my eyes. I would even go so far as to say that the Wild Card Game is only fun to watch if your team is dominating from the get go, or you have no horse in the race.
On any given day, there are so many variables at play. Maybe your ace pitcher is off, maybe the home plate umpire is calling an awful strike zone, maybe your shortstop breaks their ankle on the field, maybe your power hitters are all slumping. It is a total crapshoot. There are far better ways to decide which Wild Card team should advance to the Division Series. Here are some suggestions:
Aaron Boone and Bob Melvin meet in the stadium at dawn. The winner and his team advance to the ALDS.
A home-run derby
Each team selects two players. They’re given a certain amount of time to hit as many home runs as they can. The team with the most home runs advances. Does this put the Yankees at an unfair advantage? Perhaps.
Rock Paper Scissors
This one is a classic when it comes to making decisions. In a similar vein, they could opt for a coin toss, too.
I doubt this would be the first choice for the fans who think that baseball games are too long. Monopoly can get pretty heated, though! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not advance to the ALDS.
This was a popular game on the playground when I was a kid. For anyone not familiar, two groups form on opposite sides of the grass. All of the players from each team join hands and stand in a line. The teams take turns calling players over who try to break through the line. You win by getting all of your players through the other team’s line. Imagine lining up across from the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and CC Sabathia. I don’t think Oakland would want any part of that.
What would you like to see instead of a Wild Card Game?