If you weren’t a fan of Major League Baseball’s wild-card round before this week, we hope you gave it another chance. Baseball fans were treated to a pair of very entertaining baseball games that provided the exact atmosphere MLB was looking for when these games were introduced in 2012.
Believe us, there was and continues to be resistance to the current wild-card format. Some fans believe the postseason is watered down by the addition of two more teams, even though MLB’s postseason is still the toughest to crack among the four major sports. Others are just purists resistant to any change.
Whatever the reason might be, the case is weakened by the action we were treated to this week.
From the opening batter in Tuesday’s AL game, when Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier became the first player to open the postseason with a home run, to the final out of the crazy Rockies-Diamondbacks game on Wednesday, the wild-card round delivered action, created anxiety and left us looking forward to the action that awaits in the ALDS and NLDS.
That’s a pretty strong appetizer.
This year, we got moments on top of moments, too. We got Aaron Judge making his postseason debut in Yankee Stadium, and hitting a home run to top it off. That helped the Yankees win 8-4 and advance to the ALDS where they’ll face the Cleveland Indians. It wouldn’t have been possible without the wild-card round.
The world met Byron Buxton, who sacrificed his body to make a ridiculous Ken Griffey Jr.-style catch. That wouldn’t have been possible without the wild-card round.
We got relief pitcher Archie Bradley hitting a game-deciding triple in the Diamondbacks 11-8 win against Colorado. We got Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado hitting their first postseason home runs. We had four starting pitchers combining to throw 7 1/3 innings. That’s not good, but the drama that ensued made for entertaining baseball.
Overall, it’s a very good thing because it creates the opportunity for special moments. Things we would have never predicted. And things we won’t soon forget.
And yeah, we’re fully aware that the games took awhile. Pace-of-play remained a concern as the games combined to last just nine minutes under eight hours. It’s a lot of time to invest, but that shouldn’t be a problem when the games deliver action. Both games delivered more than enough to keep them from overstaying their welcome.
If you weren’t a baseball fan and you just tuned in because you wanted to watch sports, you can away entertained. The wild-card round — with its do-or-die nature — is designed to draw in that audience that’s hungry for more sports and give them a taste of what’s to come. More and more each year, that’s becoming the case.
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