With the Major League Baseball (MLB) season less than two weeks away, a number of teams are rejoicing about the decision league officials made to add two extra Wild Card teams to playoff contention.
With eight of 30 teams making the playoffs each October, the remaining teams miss the chance to contend and a shot at the ultimate goal: the World Series.
As constructed before the change, the playoffs allowed for each division winner to be represented, as well as one non-division winner who posts the best overall record among the runner-ups in their league.
Wild Card teams are not just a throw in, as they have to battle the other remaining teams for a final playoff berth. Once in the playoffs, the Wild Card team must play the division winner with the best overall record, or if both teams are in the same division, they then play the team that posts the second best record in the league.
Wild Card teams have had success since being added to the playoffs in 1995. The 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins, 2002 Anaheim Angels, 2004 Boston Red Sox and most recently the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals all went on to win the World Series as a Wild Card representative.
Adding another team not only made the most the sense in the eyes of league officials, it gave reason for fans across the country to smile as well.
At times, teams with better records than division winners have missed the playoffs, often placing behind their division-winner and the Wild Card team. This change allows for the two teams with the best record despite not winning their division to have an opportunity to play for the World Series.
The change will now give more teams an opportunity to compete in the Wild Card race, affording a number of fan bases extra incentive to come out to ballparks and attend games, as well as watch and listen from home.
With more teams in contention, the added interest will only help the MLB in its quest to continually increase attendance and interest. With the success of the Wild Card since its inception, adding another team was a smart decision, bringing the total to 10 out of 30, or one out of every three teams across MLB.
The one alteration to the playoffs will regard how to incorporate both teams. Instead of having one Wild Card team play the division winner with the best record, both teams will play each other in a one game playoff to decide who moves on to the best of five round.
While the one game playoff may make it difficult for fan bases to swallow if their team lost, the extra opportunity to be a part of October baseball will only make the chase and season more worthwhile for those who are in the race.
This was a play MLB executives and officials knew would get them to first base safely, but only in time will they know if they hit a home run.