x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

An unfair advantage to wild-card winners

The MLB's decision to reschedule the play-offs means extra games which is tough on the division champions.

The Boston Red Sox came from 0-2 down to beat the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series play-offs. Dino Vournas / AP Photo
The Boston Red Sox came from 0-2 down to beat the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series play-offs. Dino Vournas / AP Photo

A recent decision to change the play-off format has forced MLB to alter its post-season schedule – at least for this season – and it is not for the better.

For the first time, there will be two wild-card winners in each league, and they will meet in a one-game play-off. But by adding an extra game to an existing post-season schedule, there are fewer days to allot for travel during the Division Series.

So instead of having the division champions with the best record in the league host a wild-card winner for two games, then travel to the wild-card winner's city for two games and return home for a possible Game 5, the division champions have to travel to the wild-card city for the first two games, then host three games in the best-of-five series.

Technically it is still home-field advantage because the division champions gets three possible home games v the wild-card champions' two, but in reality, it is tough.

Game 1 is important in a best-of-five series, and the team with the league's best record will now have to play Game 1 on the road. If that same team loses Game 2? Only four teams have come back from 0-2 deficits to win Division Series in 17 years since realignment: the 1995 Mariners, the 1999 and 2003 Red Sox and the 2001 Yankees.

Trying to manufacture drama with a new wild-card format is now giving an unfair advantage to the wild-card winners. MLB might revert to the original format next year, and it should.

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