MLB Wild Card Rules

The MLB wild card rules have essentially remained the same since their creation in 1994. Knowing how the wild card system works is crucial for any fan following the games leading up to the World Series.

After the trade rumors and Spring Training, Major League Baseball's two leagues, the National League and the American League, play separate seasons, for the most part, before meeting in the fall for the post-season World Series. Each league is divided into three divisions, "East," "Central" and "West."

The wild card team is the team with the best record in either league who didn't win its division. This team will be included in the Division Series, where it will begin by playing the division winner with the best record in the league. However, MLB doesn't allow teams from the same division to play each other in the Division Series, ironically enough. If the wild card team and the team with the best record come from the same division, the wild card team will play the second best team, and the best team in the league will play the third best.

For the first two rounds of the playoffs, the wild card team lacks home field advantage. But for the World Series, the team whose league won the All Star game gets the home field advantage.

There have been several cases of the wild card team advancing to the World Series games. In fact, wild card teams have won the World Series four times. In 1997, the Florida Marlins became the first wild card team to reach the World Series and win, which they did again in 2003.

Only two other wild card teams have been able to win the Series. The Anaheim Angels won in 2002, when they played against the other wildcard team, the San Francisco Giants. The Boston Red Sox were the victorious wild card team in 2004 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Although some fans think that the wild card system is unfair, it undoubtedly brings excitement to the post-season of Major League Baseball.

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