Today, Tuesday, is the start of the postseason even if there are plenty of people who don’t want to acknowledge that. With the Wildcard Games being played today, the Yankees and Twins are both playoff teams and they will be playing in a playoff game. It may not be your traditional playoff series, and one of those teams may not feel like a playoff team, but they are. I likely don’t need to tell you that a lot of people out there are not a fan of the Wildcard Game. The argument is that it is not fair for the season to come down to just one game after playing 162 to get there. That argument makes sense! I don’t care, though. I am here to tell you the Wildcard Game is Actually Good.
Now, obviously this is very easy for me to say as a Red Sox fan. Despite doing their best to give away the division in the last week of this season, Boston is not going to be playing in this one-game playoff this year. In fact, since this new format started in 2012, the Red Sox have been able to avoid this game. So, I haven’t had to sweat this game out as a fan yet but rather have had the opportunity to watch as a (mostly) neutral observer. It’s fair to say there’s at least some chance I’ll change my mind about this game when the Red Sox do eventually play in this game — and they will. I don’t think I will, though.
The reason I enjoy the game is pretty simple: I put entertainment above fairness. People are 100 percent correct when they say that it’s not fair for teams to play 162 games then get knocked out if they have one bad game. That’s particularly true this year as there was an abnormally large gap between the first and second wildcard teams in both leagues. If the top seed loses in either league, we are going to hear a lot of complaints about this game. I get it. That being said, I don’t particularly care about fairness all that much. I mean, it’s not as if a five-game series is the most fair way to decide who is the better baseball team. If we truly wanted the most fair method, we’d create balanced schedules for every team and eliminate the playoffs, giving the championship to the team who finishes with the best record.
In the end, baseball is simply a form of entertainment, and there is nothing more entertaining than a winner-take-all game. There is a limit to this, of course. The playoffs wouldn’t be as fun if every series was a one-game series. However, to kick things off it is an incredible amount of fun. It essentially guarantees that we start off every October with a pair of Game Sevens, or at least something close to that tense. It’s totally unfair, but it’s so much more fun than it is unfair. I will acknowledge that some changes could be made, but not to the extreme that many have suggested over the last couple of years. The only change I would make is taking the two worst playoff teams and putting them in this game, even if one or both won their division. That way, a 95-win team that got stuck in second place could play a real series to start their postseason. I still want that one-game playoff to start things off, though.
I acknowledge that this may be a minority view, and there is something very strange about playing such a long season only for it to come down to one game. Like I said, it’s super easy to say this game is great as a Red Sox fan. Baseball is entertainment, though, and we are in for some great entertainment over the next couple of days. I am beyond excited, and every year I look forward to this round of the postseason. That alone tells me that the Wildcard Game is awesome. Plus, there’s a chance the Yankees will be eliminated from the playoffs by the time we wake up tomorrow, and who doesn’t love that?