MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians are not about to complain about the Wild Card format that has been in place for two seasons now. After all, thanks to the altered postseason alignment, Cleveland has a chance to take part in the October stage for the first time in six seasons.
"You know what?" Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I guess our hope would be that we get a chance to test it out."
That does not mean that the system is viewed as being free of flaws.
With two Wild Card spots in each league, there is more emphasis on winning a division title, and postseason chases have the potential to involve more teams deep into September. For the Wild Card teams, though, a 162-game schedule can come down to one make-or-break game.
That is where debate comes into play.
"If you win 93 or 94 games, and then you have to bank on this one game, it is hard," said Michael Bourn, who played in the National League Wild Card Game with the Braves last fall. "It's tough. But that's how they made it. There's no way around it. You can't change the rules. You can sit here and talk until youre blue in the face about it, but you're still going to have to play the game."
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti's club lost 94 games last season, falling considerably short of expectations. One year later, Cleveland had 88 wins heading into Thursday's action and sat one game ahead of the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
"It creates a lot of drama for the sport. It creates great entertainment," Antonetti said. "And it places a higher premium on winning the division. But, I still think, in my personal opinion, I'd prefer there be more than one game."
Both Francona and Antonetti floated the idea of a three-game series for the Wild Card teams. Antonetti also suggested a format that could include a best-of-three set that begins with a doubleheader in one city, allowing the series to only run two days.
"But, I recognize the challenge of the schedule and how difficult it is," Antonetti said.