Barring some miraculous twist of fate in which the Yankees (87-69) would seize the AL East crown from the Boston Red Sox (91-65) in the final week of the regular season, a do-or-die wild card game set in the Bronx on Oct. 3 has been all but finalized.
For the Minnesota Twins (82-74), who are presumably bound to visit Yankee Stadium one week from Tuesday as the second wild card team, the sudden-death playoff is somewhat of a godsend. Baseball’s amended postseason format incentivizes more teams to compete from April to September, and in this case, those pedestrian Twins are technically in a position to harbor championship aspirations.
But with that in mind, Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi is not pleased that the wild card teams’ success over the course of a prolonged 162-game season holds such little weight come October.
“I would like to see [the Wild Card] be a three-game series,” Girardi told NJ.com prior to the Yankees’ game against the Kansas City Royals on Monday. “To me, the penalty for being a wild card team is: You play Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and you don’t get an off day between Game 1 and 2 of the Division Series. I think that gives the teams, in a sense, a little bit more of an advantage.
“And I know, it’s for the excitement and the drama. But to play 162 games, you should get more than one game. That’s my personal opinion. It probably won’t hold much water.”
Since the Wild Card Game was implemented in 2012, half of the winners (10 total) have advanced to the League Championship Series. Baseball may be fickle, but momentum is the catalyst to all championship runs. Just ask the 2014 San Francisco Giants, who slaughtered the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wild Card night and went on to defeat the Royals for their third world championship since 2010.
Entering Tuesday, the Yankees hold a five-game lead over the Twins in the wild card standings.