With a wave of renewed criticism about the wild-card playoffs in Major League Baseball, Commissioner Rob Manfred seems poised to attempt to tweak the rules.
Commissioner Manfred, asked about the situation during an interview with Fox Sports on Wednesday, revealed intense discussion about it within the league.
Manfred began his comments pointing out that thus far in his tenure as commissioner he has shown a willingness to “evaluate and re-evaluate” the “important topics” confronting the league.
Still, Manfred said he thought it was a “mistake” to get too focused on the situation faced by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the exclusion of the system as a whole. Some say that since the Pirates are among the top-three most winning teams over the last three years they deserve better than to again battle it out in a winner-take-all, wild-card game.
The Commish went on to talk about how the league had tried to “encourage people to compete all the way to the end of the season to win the division” with the current system “in order to get what we perceived to be a significant advantage, competitively and from a business perspective.”
But Manfred said he realized that the question of what to do with the two wild cards remained a sticking point. Despite that MLB was trying to make the division titles more meaningful, he admitted that it didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped.
Our evidence there ain’t so great. We did have that little San Francisco Giant problem last year – they did win as a wild card (Manfred said this with a chuckle). But the reason we got even the most traditional baseball people on board with the one game was that they felt going two out of three put you in a window that probably was going to be five days where the division winners sat.
They thought that would be such a disadvantage for the division winners, they didn’t buy into it.
But clearly Manfred remains receptive to some changes to the system because he went on to say, “We may need to re-examine those dynamics. But I think those dynamics are a lot more important than, ‘Pittsburgh played really well, made the wild card, got beat in the first round.'”
Some are claiming that a best-of-3 wild-card series would be better than what the league now has. But it should be noted that a similar idea was already shot down.
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