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Costas: put a day-night doubleheader into the wild card round

Oct 3, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

My personal feeling: the wild card is a lot of fun. But it’s also unfair. What to do?

Today Bob Costas talked to Dan Patrick about that. Costas has a good idea about how to make the wild card a bit more fair. Key point: Doubleheader. I like it. Best part: the calendar can probably accommodate it and it benefits the best team in the league even more, putting more pressure on teams to win their division.

Will it happen? I doubt it, but I think it’s pretty awesome.

  1. NatsLady - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Link? WC is 2 of 3? What exactly is the suggestion?

    • raysfan1 - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      It’s in the video, if your device can view it. It’s best of 3 with the first two as a day-night double header at the 1st wild card team’s field with game 3 the next night at the second wild card team’s field if needed. Costas attributed the idea to Theo Epstein.

      • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        Thanks. I can’t see videos.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        I figured. I never could until my most recent upgrade.

  2. Jackson Scofield - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    @NatsLady, I guess it would either be that or an aggregate scoring series like you see in MLS playoffs and international club championships. Most runs in two games combined, perhaps?

  3. Eric Chase. - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I believe one of the NY writers tweeted out this idea several weeks ago. Sherman, or perhaps Kepner.

  4. blantoncollier - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I am not a big fan of the Play In Play Off Game. Baseball is a marathon, each game builds on each other. Now the teams are faced with a single game sprint. Doesn’t seem like the correct way to add a team.

    The idea of the day night doubleheader makes it 2 out 3 and doesn’t extend the calendar too long. Adds two days, a travel day and a game. Television would pay for it. So would the fans.

    It also is more in line with the baseball marathon than a Play In Game.

    • spudchukar - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Not sure that rewards the better of the two WC teams. Gain a split and go home. I realize that there are inherent problems with a 3 game series also w/o the double header. Perhaps the best scenario, is to start in the city with the worse record and then move Games #2 and #3 to the better record city.

      Similar, I know, but there are stats out there that support the chances of splits in doubleheaders.

      As to the play-in games, the one-game decider is still the way to go.

    • thomas655 - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      I agree with collier. The way it used to be, the wild card winner immediately went to a 5 game series against the highest seed in their league. Now, the #1 wild card team gets one game to win or go home? I do not think it is fair, especially if you have the #1 wild card team with a significantly better record that wild card team #2. Any team can beat another team one game, but it would be much tougher for wc #2 to beat wc #1 in two out of three games.

  5. ezthinking - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Think he means 3 games with a double-header involved to compress the series length.

    Not a fan of this expanding the “punishment of the wildcard” stuff. 5 wins separated the top and bottom records in the AL, 6 in the NL. The teams played different schedules as well.

    One game playoff is enough ‘punishment’ for not winning the division.

  6. aidanscawley - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I’m growing to like the single game WC. I know it’s a terrible way to decide a chance at a championship after a regular season of 162, but as long as it’s not MY team in the game, it’s pure excitement. The issue I see with the Doubleheader being played is drumming up excitement for the first game (Unless it’s the second and third* game being played consecutively). A lot of common baseball fans would have trouble focusing on the same teams playing for 6 hours straight, and the MLB has the short attention span on lockdown with the current WC format. Personally, I think a Doubleheader would be awesome, but I can see the apprehension the MLB might have.

    • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Actually, even if it WERE my team, I’d take my chances–considering the chances the Nats had. They would be lucky to be in a WC game. Poor performance in the first 2/3 of the regular season made that the only chance we had. Teams like the Nats who didn’t even come close to winning the division should go ahead and have to win that ONE game.

      • aidanscawley - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        I think that’s a pretty uniform sentiment for teams that are angling for the second WC but it’s still a pretty nervous ordeal. Just like any game 7.

  7. uuddlrlrbastart - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    If you want to add to the importance of winning your division without changing the current format, there a few simple ways to do it.

    1. Take away all the off-days. I understand the Monday off-day in case of ties, but both Wild Card games should have been on Wednesday and both winners should have had to immediately fly to the next city and play the next day. As it is, the Rays are able to use David Price in Game 163, and games 2 and 5 of the LDS. And they have a full day off before Game 1. Meanwhile, Boston will have been off for five days and long layoffs are a constantly talked about negative when a team wins its LCS in 4 or 5.

    2. The Wild Card game should not have its own roster. You shouldn’t be able to stack your team with relief pitchers or bench players to best match up with your opponent. The Wild Card roster and the LDS roster should be the same.

    3. The LDS should be best of seven. It’s not a huge difference and the WC teams aren’t always worse than the division winners, but the longer the series, the more likely it is a Wild Card team will have its flaws exposed.

    4. Get rid of the unbalanced schedule. I don’t know that this would be a benefit or a hindrance for the Wild Card teams but I don’t like the competitive imbalance it brings to the Wild Card and wanted to complain about it.

    Of course, I have long felt that the best way to make winning your division matter is to expand 2 more teams and change to four 4-team divisions, with only division winners making the playoffs.

    • km9000 - Oct 3, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      I like all your points, although regarding WC game rosters, it doesn’t seem like they’re exclusive to that game. I think all the teams had their full rotation on the rosters, instead of loading up on specialty guys.

      I’d also rather see a 7-game LDS than a 3-game WC. It used to be not winning a division meant a 0% chance of making the playoffs. So I wouldn’t complain about a Wild Card team only getting a 50% shot.

  8. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    You can always count on Bob Costas to create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  9. xmatt0926x - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    I love the doubleheader idea. To me it solves all problems. It get’s rid of the horribly unfair one game series yet it still gives the ” wildcard teams should have it unfair” people what they want.

    It makes the wildcard teams have to go for it in both games of the doubleheader, which usually involves pushing the limits for all players involved who would have to play both meaningful games in one night.

    Then, if there is a split in the doubleheader the teams have to grind it out the next day or so after travelling to the home city of the team with the poorer record. Whoever comes out alive will surely be at a disadvantage to any division winner.

    I just don’t like the one game format. It just doesn’t play well with baseball.

    This format was actually discussed yesterday. Don’t remember if it was ESPN or somewhere else. Costas may have stole this idea.

    • xmatt0926x - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Edit. My bad. It appears Costas did not take credit for this idea.

  10. frank35sox - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Putting emphasis on winning the division is already the purpose of having a one game playoff. I’m already sick of hearing how it’s not fair. Don’t like it? Win the division. You have 162 opportunities to do it.

    • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Agree. 100%.

    • sportsdrenched - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Thank you. Before this it was all about how it was unfair that a Wild Card got to the same level as a Division winner. Now, winning the division means something.

  11. wheels579 - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    First of all, this wasn’t Bob’s idea. It was Theo Epstein. I realize everyone who works at NBC fawns all over Bob Costas, but even Bob gave credit to Theo Epstein.

    Why is this format so “unfair?” It’s the same as a game 7, which everybody says they love. Costas & Dan Patrick, among others, are asking for something to be BOTH fair AND unfair at the same time. They seem to want wild card teams to either have a difficult time winning or not to win at all, but a one-game playoff is somehow too harsh. More harsh than 2 games in three days??? This format is fine. It’s the division winners who need to find a way to beat these wild card teams who are already at a disadvantage. More time off or more home games isn’t the answer.

  12. scruffmagee - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    I would say that do the double header, but make it to where the first WC spot only has to take one game. Second WC spot has to win both to move on.

  13. wheels579 - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    It’s mind-boggling that people think it is more “fair” to play two games in three days simply because it creates a safety net of one game that you can lose and still avoid elimination. And “fair” to whom, exactly? The two wild card teams that just played at least 162 games in 180 days that now must run a 3-day gauntlet? Or the top seed that just had 4-5 days off and still needs a greater advantage than home field to beat a team they outplayed for 162 games?

  14. wheels579 - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    That should have read 3 games in two days but the point remains the same.

  15. bravojawja - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Why are so many people averse to the one-game Wild Card when we’ve had one-and-done games throughout baseball’s history?

    When two teams are tied, after 162 (or 154) games, for a postseason spot, they play a one-game playoff (or play-in if you prefer) to determine who moves on, whether it’s to the Wild Card game today or to the World Series back in the day. Even if we just go back to no postseason other than the World Series, there is still the chance of two teams being tied after 162 games, with that odious Game 163 to determine who wins the pennant and gets to face the other league’s well-rested ace.

    The best solution here is to eliminate the extra off days: The season ends on Sunday; Game 163 (if necessary) is on Monday; Wild Card games – both of them – are on Tuesday; and the division series – both of them – start on Wednesday. That gives the division winners two days off and the WC winner burns its ace and maybe its bullpen before traveling.

  16. ramblingalb - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    They just don’t get it. The whole idea of the one game wildcard is to make it a crapshoot. If you make it a 2 of 3, or 3 of 5, suddenly, the other team is sitting around a week. Both games should be on Tuesday, and the division series both start Wednesday. We have planes, and if the wildcard winner is tired, that’s a shame. One game, win or lose.

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