Why Are Wildcards Only One Game in MLB?

Published 10/06/2021, 1:18 PM EDT
Oct 5, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) pulls starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Wildcard game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports


Ever since the league added the Wild Card game to the MLB, it has received mixed reactions from fans and pundits. Although it adds to the excitement of the league, many fans think the game is not fair. However, it continues to be a stable part of the baseball season.

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This year, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox went head-to-head for the Wild Card spot; likewise, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers will face off too. Notably, the game saw the Red Sox defeat the Yankees emphatically.

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However, is it fair to those teams who rack up so many wins in the regular season but lose out after the result of a single game? That seems to be the point topic of debate.

Is one wild-card game fair to the MLB teams?

Similar to the NBA play-in tournament, two teams from each conference play a single-game playoff after the MLB regular season. After that, the winner of that wild-card game would face the top team of their respective conferences. The team with the better regular-season winning percentage gets the home advantage.

Even though it is a spectacle for the fans, many players have criticized the rule. Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez spoke about the problems related to the game.

“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. The efforts of my entire team, my entire organization, going down the drain by losing one game? One little mistake?” said Martinez.

Oct 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50), shortstop Corey Seager (5) and first baseman Matt Beaty (45) score on a grand slam home run by shortstop Trea Turner (6) in the fifth inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In context, Martinez won his title by being in a wild-card team back in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox. Hence, many backed him for making a strong point.

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Yankees lose their game

The first MLB playoff game this season has ended with the Boston Red Sox defeating the New York Yankees with a score of 6-2. Both these teams were tied during the regular season for wins but faced against each other to determine the ultimate winner. In the meantime, the debates will rumble when the Cardinals face the Dodgers. The latter tied their franchise record of 106 victories during the regular season, while the 90 wins by the Cardinals took them to face the Dodgers in the wild-card game.

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Thus, a victory for the Cardinals would be tough to take for the Dodgers.

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Back in those days, the wild card tag was given to one team of each conference. But, the rules are different now, with play-in games determining the winner to advance to the next round. Undoubtedly, the wild-card games are a treat to watch for the sheer excitement and passion it delivers. However, do think they are fair enough?

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Jacob Gijy

504 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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