Well, it happened again - a mediocre Cardinals team that many people thought had no business in the postseason went on to win it all. This time, they didn't even win their division, they made it in as the NL Wild Card. The very idea of a Wild Card is a polarizing subject, but when a Wild Card team wins the World Series, well, OK, so nobody really seemed to care this time around, probably because of all of the "How do we fix the Wild Card?" speculation we got during the regular season (and the Cardinals did have a pretty good run). Between adding more Wild Card teams and throwing them all in the Thunderdome, realigning the leagues to create more or fewer divisions to get to a power of two in each league, or just living with what we have, everything was put on the table. Well, maybe not everything. With that, I give you my solution, the Wild and Crazy Card.
Has this ever happened to you? Your season is going great, but with one stumble, oh no! That pesky division rival who you totally pwn passes you in the standings and goes on to the postseason while you're left spending October in your beachfront mansion surrounded by supermodels. Oh, the humanity! Don't fret, there's a way out of this fate worse than death now with the Wild and Crazy card! [Offer not valid for Canadian teams unless they complete this math problem: (St. Louis Cardinals - Albert Pujols) / (Milwaukee Brewers - Prince Fielder) x (Chicago Cubs + Theo Epstein) + (Boston Red Sox - Theo Epstein) / (New York Yankees + C.J. Wilson) - (Florida Marlins - Florida + Miami) x (New Stadium + Orange Uniforms - Home Run Monstrosity)]
Here's how it works: At the end of the regular season, the eight playoff teams are selected using the current method. But wait! There's still one more day of games to get through before any of them can taste sweet, sweet October baseball. The 22 failures in MLB can now challenge any of the playoff-bound teams that they have a winning record against to a Wild and Crazy Card game to decide who moves on and who is the sad, pathetic loser.
Each non-playoff team may submit a maximum of one challenge request, due no later than 12:00pm EDT on the day following the final day of the regular season. For each challenged playoff team, a Wild and Crazy Card game will be scheduled for the following day at their home stadium against the challenging team with the best overall regular season record (with ties decided by season series or, if still tied, a coin toss). Each game will be limited to a number of innings equal to the difference in season series wins; if a challenging team won the season series 9-6, three innings would be played, while a record of 4-3 would result in a one-inning game. If the difference in the season series record is greater than nine, a nine-inning game will be played. If the challenging team scores more runs in the allotted number of innings, they go on to postseason glory! If they tie or lose, better luck next year.
If this had been implemented for the 2011 season, there could have been 20 additional innings of baseball after the final standings had been decided:
Yankees vs. Red Sox, 6 Innings
Tigers vs. Angels, 1 Inning
Rangers vs. Blue Jays, 2 Innings
Rays vs. As, 3 Innings
Phillies vs. Nationals, 2 Innings
Brewers vs. Braves, 2 Innings
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs, 1 Inning
Cardinals vs. Giants, 3 Innings
How's that for exciting baseball? The Wild and Crazy Card: because it ain't over 'til nothing is decided until the last possible moment.
(Fun Fact: If the Red Sox had won the Wild Card instead of the Rays, the Yankees would have had an automatic pass into the postseason. Would the prospect of facing the Red Sox in an elimination game have changed the result of their final game?)