Major League Baseball Wild Card Game
The Major League Baseball Wild Card Game is a play-in game added to the Major League Baseball postseason in 2012. The format is similar to the three-tiered postseason format used from 1995 through 2011, but adds a second wild card team. The two wild card teams play each other in a single game playoff on the day after the last regular season game (including any tie-breaker games). The winner of this game advances to the Division Series. The home team for this single game playoff is the wild card team with the better of the two regular season records. If both teams have the same number of wins and losses, tie-breaking procedures are used (no additional games are played).
The division winners receive a bye as they await the result of the wild card game.
The winner of the wild card game will always face the division champion with the best record. Previously, a wild card team could not face the champion of its own division. This move makes it possible for the two teams with the best record in the league to face each other before the League Championship Series for the first time since 1997 (from 1995 to 1997 the matchups for the division series were determined by annual rotation between the west, central and east divisions).
The one-game format was first proposed in 1999 on the Sports Mogul website. Over the years, the company used their web presence, blog and customer base to encourage a letter-writing campaign to "fix the wild card". The campaign was directed at MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. In 2011, this new playoff format was announced.
The addition of a second wild card team to each league was completed for multiple reasons:
- Added importance to division races. Before 1995, only division-winning teams advanced to the playoffs, creating excitement when teams within a division competed for the best record in that division. From 1995 to 2011, the division race took a back seat to the wild card race. The addition of a single-game elimination creates a 50% chance that each team will be eliminated, adding incentive to win the division instead of settling for the wild card berth.
- Competition for home field advantage (such as between division winners) gains importance. Before the Wild Card game, there was virtually no advantage to having the best record in your league. Now, that team gains the advantage of facing the survivor of the Wild Card game—a team that has probably just used up their best pitcher in order to advance.
- Wild card teams are penalized. In the four-team format from 1995 to 2011, the wild card team had just as good a chance to reach the World Series as a division winner. Now the winner of the Wild Card game is at a disadvantage because they have to play in an extra round.
- Increases postseason excitement and revenue, but adds only one day to the post-season (assuming there are no regular season ties requiring additional tie-breakers). Recent examples of this kind of excitement were seen in tie-breaking games in 2007, 2008, and 2009, as well as the final day of the 2011 regular season.
- The Wild Card game adds sudden death tension at the beginning of the post-season. This elimination game is similar to a Game 7, but on the first day of the postseason.
- Because the second Wild Card will likely have fewer wins, more teams will be in the race for the spot, leading to a more exciting finish to the regular season.
With the adoption of MLB's new collective bargaining agreement in November 2011, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that a new playoff system will begin within the next two years; the change was ultimately put into place in 2012.
American League 
|2012||Baltimore Orioles||5–1||Texas Rangers|
National League 
|2012||St. Louis Cardinals||6–3||Atlanta Braves|
- Winning team in bold.
- Jayson Stark (2012-03-02). "The new MLB postseason". ESPN.com.
- "Fixing The Wild Card". 1999-09-26.
- "Fixing The Wild Card". 2008-02-10.
- "How You Can Fix The Wild Card". 2008-02-10.
- "Sports Simulation Influences MLB New Playoff Format".
- Bloom, Barry M. (March 2, 2012). "Addition of Wild Card berths finalized for 2012". MLB.com. MLB.com.
- Game was played "under protest" by the Atlanta Braves regarding a perceived incorrect call regarding the infield fly rule, but shortly after the game Joe Torre, MLB executive vice president for baseball operations, denied the protest, citing umpire's judgment.
- "Wild-card game stopped after call". Associated Press/ESPN. October 5, 2012.