Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I figured I’d give you another one of the new bits of the Collective Bargaining Agreement to think about while you’re laying on the couch, waiting for your stomach to explode (if you’re anything like me). I’ll probably have another post or two discussing bits of the CBA, but I’ve reserved this one for discussion on the new Wild Cards.
I’ve been trying to decide if I like the addition of two new Wild Cards. With three division champions and an already existing Wild Card in each league, it means that it will create an odd number of playoff teams. This will be likely rectified via a one game playoff between the Wild Card teams before the rest of the playoffs begin.
After I read Christina Kahrl’s recent SweetSpot post on the topic, I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the second Wild Card team. Of course the theory is, teams will try harder to win their division, because they don’t want to risk playing in a “one and done” scenario. This got me thinking if the second Wild Card would’ve influenced the Indians at all over the past 16 years.
From 1995 to 1999 the Indians won the AL Central outright each year, so they wouldn’t have to worry about a one game playoff before the rest of the playoffs began.
In 2000, the Indians finished the season 90-72; just behind the Wild Card Seattle Mariners who were 91-71. The Indians would’ve won the new Wild Card spot that year and dueled against the Mariners in a one game playoff.
In 2001 the Indians won the Central outright, while they were nowhere close to the playoffs from 2002-2004.
In 2005 the Indians went 93-69; the fifth best record in the American League. If the new Wild Card spot existed this season, they would’ve had a one game playoff with the Boston Red Sox.
In 2007 the Indians won the Central outright, while in 2006 and 2008-2011 they weren’t close to playoff contention by the end of the season.
Since the Indians have never won the Wild Card, they never would’ve worried about getting knocked out of the playoffs in a one game showdown. With the addition of the second Wild Card, they would’ve at least had one extra game in 2000 and 2005. (To be fair, in 2005 their end of year collapse was so spectacular, I doubt the extra game would’ve helped much). So from the Indians perspective, this seems to be a good thing.
I guess we’ll see if the second Wild Card will, in fact, benefit them in the future. I still think it’s something that may end up impacting the AL West and AL East more than the AL Central.
What are your thoughts on the new Wild Cards?