Scioscia advocates harder road for Wild Cards

Mike Scioscia’s 2002 Angels won the franchise’s only World Series as a Wild Card, but that was not really such an exception.

Since 2000, teams with the best record in their league have been eliminated in the first round of postseason play more often (10 times) than Wild Cards (six times).

In that nine-year time frame, Wild Cards have reached the World Series eight times, winning it all on three occasions.

There’s more: Wild Card teams since 2000 have a combined 102-82 record compared to 78-78 by clubs that fashioned the best records in their leagues.

Going back to 1995 and the advent of the current system, Wild Cards have reached nine World Series and won four.

Clearly, going into the postseason as a second-place club is not such a bad deal at all.

Scioscia thinks Wild Card entries should enter the tournament with a more decided handicap rather than having the same path to travel as one of the three division champions.

“I’d like to see a 1-4 setup in the first round for the Wild Card teams,” Scioscia said. “Let them play the first game at home and then finish the series on the road. Or go to a 2-1-2 format.

“The way it is now, not enough weight is being given to division winners. Wild Cards should not be on the same ground.”

Scioscia always has attached more value to winning divisions across six months and 162 games – “the toughest challenge,” he calls it — than getting hot at the right time and winning 11 postseason contests.

Scioscia pointed out that this has nothing to do with the Angels facing a Wild Card in Boston next week for the second season in a row.

The Red Sox last year won the first two games in Anaheim, losing Game 3 at Fenway Park before claiming the series in Game 4.

Scioscia’s idea has merit. It should be more difficult for Wild Cards to make it through the opening round. You can win 100 games across six months and find your season over before you know what hit you.

The way it is now, all the Wild Card team needs to do is split the first two games on the road, and suddenly it is in the driver’s seat. Going home 1-1, two wins by the Wild Card eliminate a division champion.

This is the route Scioscia’s Angels took in ’02 when they won Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium and carried the momentum home to finish the job.

Giving the Wild Card the opener at home and then finishing the series in the house of the division winner also makes economic and environmental sense.

If the Angels and Red Sox split the first four games, they’ll return to Anaheim for Game 5 – two cross-country flights for a whole lot of people in the space of four days.

There’s no denying the success of Wild Cards in postseason play. But Scioscia, an independent thinker, will argue that it should have been even more difficult for his ’02 Angels to eliminate the Bronx Bombers en route to the Promised Land.

 
   

 

8 Comments

Haven’t put too much thought into this, as I never thought about it before. But how about a 3-2 series. Where the wild card starts on the road. The better team should win at least two of three at home. This would reduce travel, still give more weight towards the division champions and not make it too unbalanced. So what do you guys think?

There have been times when the wildcard team had a better record than that of one or both of the other division winners. All divisions are not always equal. I personally don’t like 5 game series. I think they should all be best of 7.

That’s true Skipjack47, but the team with the better record is not always the better team. Divisions are can be weaker and/or stronger. Not everyone plays each team the same amount. So you have to give the division winner some credit. But I agree with you on a 7 game series. But now that I think about it. It is not unlike the final four, where a cinderella team can get hot, and knock of some better teams. And no one’s really complaining about that. And baseball has more then one game to play. What if they only played one game each series?! Just thinking out loud.

The problem is really in the opponents phase, not as much the home/road setup.
Maybe this is my Angels fan bias, but I’m sick of this “the first round cannot pit two rivals from the same division.”
This is more in response to last year, when 100 wins was the best record, and still they had to play a much better Boston team than the Central winner with a weaker record.
So the Sox and Yankees play in the first round? Better for ratings and the northeastern U.S., as well as the rivalry (which may not happen in the ALCS anyway).
Detroit (or Minnesota) only gets into these playoffs because of a weaker division. Personally I like the no-division format used before 1970 (top two play for World Series berth).
If they really wanted true divisions, the west coast would be one (including the Giants, M’s, Dodgers and Angels in one division), and say the S.E. Division (maybe the Texas teams, Atlanta, Florida teams); NE Division, and so forth. I can’t see any rivalry in terms of Dallas/Arlington and Seattle or L.A.

The bottom line is the Yankees have the best record so they should be playing the Red Sox in the 1st round because they are the wild card! I also agree all series should be 7 game series. This will be the year the Angels eliminate the Red Sox. Play Ball

The questions that need to be asked are 1. Would Scioscia feel the same way if the Angels were the wild card team? 2. Would he feel the same way if he didn’t have to play the Red Sox in the first round? Is he that afraid of the Red Sox? Sorry – sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia, i believe they answered your question in the article. “But Scioscia, an independent thinker, will argue that it should have been even more difficult for his ’02 Angels to eliminate the Bronx Bombers en route to the Promised Land.”

I just think that the best record should play against the wild card. Even though most of the times it’ll be Yankees v. Red Sox, the MLB would get higher ratings plus the Angels will give you a good series no matter what. They’re an exciting team to watch. Honestly, i don’t like to watch the Red Sox or Yankees play baseball due to dirty players. But that’s a conversation for later.

Chris

Julia, i believe they answered your question in the article. “But Scioscia, an independent thinker, will argue that it should have been even more difficult for his ’02 Angels to eliminate the Bronx Bombers en route to the Promised Land.”

I just think that the best record should play against the wild card. Even though most of the times it’ll be Yankees v. Red Sox, the MLB would get higher ratings plus the Angels will give you a good series no matter what. They’re an exciting team to watch. Honestly, i don’t like to watch the Red Sox or Yankees play baseball due to dirty players. But that’s a conversation for later.

Chris

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