The National League wild card is almost settled, with the Chicago Cubs basically playing themselves out of contention last week. Louis Cardinals The division title is still there for the taking.
Did you know that the Wild Card Game record for most runs by a team, most runs by both teams, most hits by a team, and most hits by both teams, were all set during the National League Wild Card Game [ Box Score ]? The Press Release, March 2, , had a full breakdown: Major League Baseball expanded its playoffs for the third time, this time with the addition of two more Wild Card teams and a single elimination game in each league.
That new format will begin this year. An agreement between MLB and the Players Association, finalized on Friday, adds a second Wild Card to both the American and National Leagues, increasing the postseason field to 10, the largest in Major League history and the first such expansion since The three division winners in each league will await the survivor of a one-game playoff between the Wild Card teams in each league.
Both games are slated for Friday, Oct. Barring weather disruptions, the Division Series field of four teams in each league will begin the following Saturday and Sunday.
This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game 5 of a Division Series and was necessary because the regular-season schedule -- announced before the agreement on the new postseason was reached -- had no wiggle room.
There will still be a travel day between Games 2 and 3. From onward, there will be space set into the schedule for the one-game Wild Card playoffs. Next year, the Division Series will return to the format used from through this past postseason. Details on the scheduling of the new playoff games between each league's Wild Cards will be announced in the near future as will be the television partner who will carry the games.
Reverting to the old format that was used from will allow the one-game Wild Card playoff winners to remain home and host the first two games of their Division Series , which will begin on Sunday, Oct. The other two Division Series that pits division winners will begin on Saturday, Oct.
Division titles and Wild Card berths will now all be decided by a rd game play-in if necessary. In the past, if two teams were tied for a division lead after games and the other had already clinched the Wild Card, the division winner would be determined by head-to-head records.
This year, any play-in games will be staged the day after the regular season ends. In another interesting wrinkle to the new long-term playoff rule changes, beginning this year a division winner and Wild Card team from the same division will be able to meet in the Division Series , which was not the case in the past.
In the past, the Red Sox would have played the division winner with the league's second-best record and the Yankees would've played the division winner with the third-best mark. Under the new format, the Yankees would've played the Rays. Michael Weiner, union's executive director, lauded both sides for their cooperation on a very complicated issue during a conference call on Friday.
We didn't have a schedule that was designed to accommodate it. It took a lot of hard work by both sides to try and figure out a way to make it happen. Because of television commitments, the World Series is fixed to begin on Wednesday, Oct. The additional Wild Cards also place a premium on winning a division title.
Division winners will get at least two days of rest before the start of the Division Series , while the Wild Card teams will possibly have to use their best pitchers to win an elimination game. If you're in the one-game playoff, do you use your top starter, Ian Kennedy , or do use somebody else?
It's a different strategy. The two sides then had two months to negotiate the logistics of beginning it a year early. They went a day past their stated deadline. MLB had been studying how to expand the playoffs for at least two years, and it became a topic of heated discussion among Selig's member committee that has been studying on-field improvements of the sport.
Had there been the additional Wild Card berths, the four teams would've secured all of them much earlier, thus eliminating the last-minute dramatics.
Under the new scenario, the Rays would've have had to play the Red Sox and the Cardinals would have had to play the Braves in a one-game Wild Card playoff to gain entry into the Division Series.
Louis manager Mike Matheny , a coach in the Cardinals system last season. There were a lot of people against it at the time and it proved to make some very meaningful games for some teams who otherwise wouldn't have had anything going on.
It will be fun to watch how it all plays out. From , there were two divisions in each league and a League Championship Series between the first-place teams as a prelude to the World Series.
Prior to , only the pennant winners, the first-place teams in each league, met in the World Series. Under the new format, MLB, with 10 of 30 teams, will have the lowest amount of playoff qualifiers among the major North American sports leagues.
How do you feel about the Wild Card Game? Is it now a mute issue? Could it still be made even better?
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