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The Mass Media

The Sports Spiel: New playoff in MLB is wild, unfair and a whole lot of fun


Courtesy Of Keith Allison on Flickr




This postseason in MLB was the first time we saw the new one game winner-take-all playoff round between two wildcard teams. Prior to this season there were four play-off clubs including three division winners and a wildcard team with the next best record who didn’t win their division. Starting this year, MLB added an additional wildcard seed, and a new single-game elimination round. And on Oct. 5, the one-game wildcard round was exactly that: wild. There were two home upsets, and a very controversial call by a left-field umpire.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-3 in a nutty game. Under the previous rules, the Braves would have been the only wildcard seed in the National League with a 94-68 record, six games better than the Cardinals.

In the game, the Braves took an early two run lead, but found themselves down 6-3 in the eighth inning with one out and runners on first and second. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit a high fly ball into left field that dropped between Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday due to a miscommunication. Left field umpire Sal Holbrook called an in-field fly, and Simmons was ruled automatically out, even though the ball was hit at least ten yards into left field.

The sold out Turner Field crowd went into an uproar, littering the field with bottles and other trash. The game was delayed for about twenty minutes, and the Braves’ attempt at appealing the ruling was overruled by Major League Baseball. The Cardinals had to run off the field after their win to avoid being hit with debris from angry fans.

The Texas Rangers were heavily favored going into this season having appeared in the past two World Series. After leading Major League Baseball in hits and runs, and with Josh Hamilton coming off a career year hitting 43 homers, the Rangers held first place in the AL West for 178 days and were expected to go to the World Series again.

However, the Baltimore Orioles came to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and upset the Rangers 5-1 to move on to the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.

Some might disagree with the new wildcard round, like the Braves who probably feel robbed after being ahead the Cardinals by six games, and having the blown call in a pivotal moment of a do-or-die game. But one thing that can’t be denied about the new wildcard round: it is exciting to watch.