MLB Sports

MLB Playoffs: What if it was single elimination?

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What if MLB adopted the NFL rules and went to a single game elimination for the MLB Playoffs? I doubt if it would ever happen due to TV contracts and sponsorships, but after what happened last night between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants, this needs to happen.

Baseball is long, nine innings long and can last up to 6+ hours depending on the pitching but none of that matters when October rolls around, and a championship is on the line. The Mets and Giants played in one of the best playoff games ever Wednesday night, but it wasn’t because of the score and pitching. It was due to the intensity and the moment of the game.

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Sports love to spit out the phrase, “win or go home” but the MLB Wild Card game takes it to another level. There is no tomorrow for a team that won 87 games this year, and no tomorrow for a lineup that went to the World Series last season. To Mets fans, it may seem unfair that it played out like this, but that’s the beauty of the Wild Card game in both the NFL and MLB. You play a full season, and it all comes down to one game. “Win or go Home.”

What makes this a great idea?

For starters, it forces a manager to actually manage. In a seven game series, you know you have at least four games to play with lineups, possibly 3-5 different starting pitchers and let them play the game. If mistakes happen in a game or two, you can adjust knowing you have another chance. But if all that were to be taken away what would a manager do? A genuine core of a team begins on the mound. If your pitching is horrible, nines times out of ten you would not be here, and that’s what makes the Wild Card game so special.

A manager gets to put his true ace on the mound. The one guy he had ridden all season when he needed a big win. The Mets had theirs and so did the Giants, and we saw how that turned out. But here’s the kicker. If a manager sees that his ace is tiring after 120+ pitches, but the score is tied 0-0 entering the ninth what does he do? Does he pull him or let him continue the game?

This is what Mets manager, Terry Collins will question all offseason. This was a do-or-die game, and he took his ACE out because that’s’ the way he has worked all season. But this is not the regular season. Noah Syndergaard is the guy he chose to get them to the NLDS and Collins took him out, playing as if there was a tomorrow. Giants manager, Bruce Bochy, put trust in his ace, Madison Bumgarner and rode him to a complete game victory. The Giants have a clear understanding of “win or go home,” the Mets forgot.

Baseball is about matchups, and a manager’s job is to put his best out there but in a seven game series he has options he can toy with. If there were a single elimination, he has one option. He has to play his best lineup and manage his best. There’s no room for errors. It makes that one game exciting, not only for the players but the fans as well. There will be no falling asleep, bars and stadiums would be packed, and TV networks ratings would go through the roof.

But best of all, we would get to see every player’s and manager’s “A” game. Next series you may see a team take a game off, knowing there is a next one but what if that wasn’t the case?

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]