By Matt Abbatacola–
(CBS) It’s not unfair. It’s not unfortunate. It’s baseball in 2015.READ MORE: City Council To Meet Again Friday With Renaming Lake Shore Drive On Agenda
On Oct. 7, the Cubs and Pirates will play in the NL wild-card game to see which team advances to the NLDS against the Cardinals (barring an epic collapse down the stretch by St. Louis). Entering play Wednesday, the Cubs are seven games games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and trail the Pirates by four games.
At 92-65, the Cubs boast baseball’s third-best record. Chicago would be on top of five of baseball’s six divisions, leading some to ponder — including Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein — if a three-game wild-card series would be more fair than a one-game roll of the dice.
The way I see it, the Cubs should be grateful for game 163 and make the most of it.
Since the addition of a second wild-card team in 2012, the NL has seen the “last team in” go 19-12 in the playoffs, including the run by last year’s World Series champion San Francisco Giants. After thumping the Pirates in the wild-card game in 2014, the Giants then beat a 96-win Nationals team in the NLDS and took down a 90-win Cardinals squad to advance to the World Series against the fellow wild-card Royals.
In 2012, the Cardinals earned the second wild-card spot by winning 88 regular-season games. Atlanta won 94 games and hosted the wild-card game, but St. Louis prevailed 6-3. The Cardinals advanced and beat a 98-win Nationals team in five games in the NLDS before losing to the eventual champion Giants in the NLCS.READ MORE: Man Stabbed On CTA Blue Line Train
Two years ago, the Reds, the last team in, lost in Pittsburgh in the wild card game.
If anyone thinks the Cubs and Pirates deserve more than a one-game play-in, they’re wrong. This is the format in 2015, and if a team wants more than one game, it’s simple: Don’t lose the wild-card game or win more games in the regular season.
Baseball isn’t about being fair. It’s about winning and losing within the given system and format – see the 1985 Mets, ’87 Mets, the ’91 Mets, the ’91 Dodgers, the ’93 Giants, the ’93 Expos or any other 90-plus-win squad that didn’t get even a single playoff game. They’d love for a chance to play in a one-game wild-card contest.
If the Cubs lose, they can never say they were slighted in any way after the great regular season they completed.
Want to play more? Just win.MORE NEWS: 'Work-Share Illinois' Helping Workers Who Are Partially Laid Off By Employers
Matt Abbatacola is a producer, host and update anchor at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter@MattAbbatacola.