Major League Baseball’s abbreviated wildcard round gets under way this evening when the Houston Astros come to the Bronx to play the New York Yankees (known to some as The Evil Empire). The Chicago Cubs travel to Pittsburgh to strap on the Pirates Wednesday. Both games are scheduled to start at 8:08. The winners of these two games move on to the league Division Series that begin Friday.
Baseball’s new wildcard format, which calls for a single game to sort the two non-division winners with the highest won-lost percentages in both Major Leagues, is peculiarly unsuited to the Grand Old Game. A team that has achieved over a 162-game season should not be sent home as the result of losing one of one.
Baseball is not a one-game game. Too much depends on how good a night teams’ pitchers are having in a single game. The longer series tell the story of which team is superior (though even these are not foolproof — look at the ’69 Mets or the ’88 Dodgers). Even the College World Series is double elimination.