While the NFL may be hogging most of the country’s attention these days, America’s Favorite Pastime will likely be earning a share of the headlines in the weeks to come. With the 2012 MLB playoffs right around the corner, fans will soon get a complete look at the changes instituted at the start of the season and just how big of a role they may play.
Arguably one of the biggest changes of all was the addition of a second wild card team for the postseason, which in turn, may lead to some very intriguing match-ups. For one, the wild card teams will face each other in a one-game playoff, which means it’s possible we could one day watch the Yankees and Red Sox duke it out for a spot in the American League Division Series. Or, since the wild card winner will advance to face the team with the best record, regardless of division, another epic showdown has the potential to take place before even getting to the Championship Series.
While this “extra” wild card slot essentially extends an olive branch to one last team fighting for a postseason berth, the one-game playoff may ultimately only further stack the deck in favor of the team with the league’s best record. Not only will the wild card team not have home-field advantage, but it’ll also have to play the first game of the division series the very next day. The obvious issues are of course, how far the team may have to travel, but it’ll also throw a major wrench in the pitching rotation.
Perhaps it’s only right to reward the team with the best record, and if history’s shown us anything, it’s that the playoffs don’t care how many games were won during the regular season. Since 1995, 10 wild card teams have advanced to the World Series, with four claiming victory, including Florida (1997 and 2003), Anaheim (2002), Boston (2004), and most recently, St. Louis in 2011.
Hopefully this new format won’t mess with the uncertainty that has made the MLB playoffs so thrilling each October. At the very least, take solace in the fact that there won’t be any “replacement umpires” present. For a great selection of 2012 MLB Playoff tickets throughout the postseason, visit Vivid Seats.