Once trendy, Wild Cards fizzling in October

Once trendy, Wild Cards fizzling in October

ARLINGTON -- Remember when being a Wild Card team seemed to be the ticket to success in the postseason?

That is so 2007.


With Friday's exit of the Yankees, who were dispatched in six games by the Rangers in the American League Championship Series, there are no more Wild Card teams still playing this postseason. The Braves were the National League's Wild Card representative, and they were ousted in the NL Division Series by the NL West champion Giants.

The last time a Wild Card team advanced to the World Series was 2007, when the Rockies fell to the Red Sox in the Fall Classic. That was one year after the Wild Card Tigers were beaten by the Cardinals and two years after the Wild Card Astros were swept in the World Series by the White Sox.

The Red Sox became the fourth Wild Card team to be crowned champions when they swept the Cardinals in 2004.

The first Wild Card team to reach the Fall Classic was the Florida Marlins, who wound up defeating the Indians in seven games in 1997.

The Marlins also were the Wild Card when they defeated the Yankees in six games in the 2003 World Series to become the only two-time champion via the Wild Card route.

The 2002 World Series featured the first and -- to this point -- the only matchup between two Wild Card teams, as the Angels beat the Giants in seven games.

It was around that time that there was talk that the Wild Card had in some way cheapened the playoffs. There was not a big enough disadvantage to being a Wild Card, people said. Changes had to be made.

There was speculation that because Wild Card teams typically had to capture their playoff spot late in the season, they possessed momentum heading into the playoffs that gave them an advantage.

If that was the case, it doesn't seem to be any longer, as Wild Card teams have been falling quicker in the playoffs.

The only exceptions to the Wild Card struggles of late come from baseball's best division, the AL East. Of the six Wild Card teams over the past three seasons, only the Red Sox in 2008 and this year's Yankees managed to make it past the Division Series.

The last NL Wild Card team to advance past the Division Series was the 2007 Rockies, who were the ultimate red-hot team. Colorado won 14 of its final 15 regular-season games, then swept Philadelphia and Arizona in the first two rounds of the playoffs to advance to the World Series.

Once there, the Rockies were swept by the Red Sox, who had beaten out the Yankees for the AL East title.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.