The wild card has become a popular feature in sports leagues around the world. It allows teams that didn’t win their respective divisions a chance to compete in the playoffs. But how many games is the wild card?
What is the Wild Card?
The wild card is a playoff spot given to a team that did not win its division but still has a good enough record to make it into the playoffs. The concept was first introduced in Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1994, and now many other sports leagues have adopted it too.
How Many Games is the Wild Card in MLB?
In MLB, the wild card game is a one-game playoff between two teams. The game takes place after the regular season and before the Division Series, which is a best-of-five series.
The two teams that play in the wild card game are usually determined by which teams have the best records among those that did not win their respective divisions. In some cases, however, two or more teams may have identical records, leading to additional tiebreaker games.
The winner of the wild card game advances to play against one of the division winners in the Division Series.
One advantage of having a one-game playoff for the wild card is that it creates excitement and intensity. Every pitch and every play matters, as there are no second chances.
Another advantage is that it rewards division winners by giving them time to rest and set up their rotations for the next round of playoffs.
Other Sports Leagues with Wild Card Systems
Many other sports leagues around the world have adopted some form of a wild card system. Here are some examples:
In American football’s National Football League (NFL), each conference has two wild card spots. The two wild card teams with the best records play against the two division winners with the worst records in the first round of playoffs, which is a one-game elimination round.
In ice hockey’s National Hockey League (NHL), each conference has two wild card spots. The two wild card teams play against one of the division winners in a best-of-seven series in the first round of playoffs.
In basketball’s National Basketball Association (NBA), each conference has eight playoff spots, with the top six teams from each conference automatically qualifying. The seventh and eighth spots are given to the two teams with the best records among those that did not automatically qualify. The seventh and eighth seeds then play against the top two seeds in a best-of-seven series.
The wild card has become an important feature in sports leagues around the world, giving more teams a chance to compete for a championship. While different sports leagues have different formats for their wild card games, they all share one thing in common: excitement and drama for fans everywhere.