October Madness – The Extra Wild Card


Red Sox and Braves players heartbroken after missing the 2011 postseason. Could the extra wild card ease their pain?

Major League Baseball is a business model unlike any other major sport in North America. From 1995 to 2010, the world’s premier baseball league and its revenue grew a staggering 400 percent, going from a “humble” $1.4 billion-a-year enterprise to a massive $7 billion powerhouse. Even during the economy dip of 2009, MLB still garnered a 1.5 percent increase from the previous year. And the revenues will continue to grow with Commissioner Bud Selig’s announcement of an extra wild card team to the playoffs beginning this season. That is one extra team from both the American and National League, playing one extra game in October, generating more money from television stations, advertisements, ticket and merchandise sales, and much more.  Below is a chart highlighting the recent successes of Major League Baseball.

Obviously, the revenue situation surrounding the extra wild card teams is a positive as far as the executives, owners and players are concerned. But is it a positive in terms of competition? “This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year,” says Bud Selig, in an article appearing in ESPN.com. Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves fans may wholeheartedly embrace the expansion, as each team endured one of the most memorable late-season collapses in MLB history. While the fans of those franchises may be thrilled, some players are a little less excited. “One game?” says Red Sox DH David Ortiz. “It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.” Ortiz makes a great point. In a best-of-three series, players would be afforded more rest in between games. Fans would flock to the ballpark for potentially two more ballgames. And owners would be ecstatic about the extra coin generated from the added exposure of their franchises. The jury is out on the extra wild card teams at the moment, but it is hard to imagine anything but success in the future for an already successful business.