Two outs, bottom of the ninth, full count and the bases are loaded.
Here comes a fastball down the middle.
Swing and a miss for strike three. Or, it’s smoked over the wall for a walk-off grand slam.
Take your pick. Either way, it is game over for one team.
That’s all it takes in baseball. One pitch can decide the outcome of the entire game.
That is why the one-game playoff for wild card teams makes no sense.
Think about it, teams play over 100 games during the regular season just to earn their places in the postseason.
Then, with one game, each team has to put everything on the line.
I recently heard a suggestion on how to fix this problem. The teams would play a three-game series over the span of three days.
On the first day, the teams should play a double-header at the higher seed’s home field. This still keeps the win-or-go-home atmosphere because either team could advance that night.
Plus, this keeps home-field advantage with the team with the better record.
If the teams split the games, day two will be used for travel.
On the third day, the teams play in a game which is essentially equivalent to the single-game playoff that is in place now. The winner advances, and the loser waits until next season to try again.
My problems with MLB playoffs don’t stop there, though.
I despise the 2-3-2 format used in both the Championship Series and the World Series.
I am an advocate of home-field advantage, and I believe the 2-3-2 eliminates that reward.
If the away team wins either of the first two games, it has three consecutive home games to look forward to.
You may think the home team should win the first two and not have to worry about that situation, but let’s get real – this is baseball we’re talking about.
If the series only lasts five games, the advantage actually goes to the lower seed, as they have three games at home.
Instead, I think the playoffs should extend the 2-2-1 currently used in the Division Series, meaning they would play in a 2-2-1-1-1 format.
Sure, this means more traveling. But it also means a more true advantage for the home team.
The better team still gets the initial two home games to try to get the early lead.
The next two games give the lower seed a decent opportunity to even the series.
Or if it manages a victory in either of the first two games, the team can take the lead just as it would in a 2-3-2 format.
Alternating locations for the last three games keeps the chances even for both teams, save for the extra home game for the higher seed.
I hope the new commissioner considers a playoff revision when he takes over.
For this year, though, go Cards!
Story by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor