The Wild Card Game, or its lurking presence, has been a common theme of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the past few seasons.
In 2017, the team faced the Rockies in the one-game showdown, beating them 11-8 and advancing to the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Last season, the D-backs’ lead in the division slipped away, as well as a berth in the game, as they finished 8.5 games back of the Rockies, who ended up beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in the contest.
And this year, the Wild Card Game is back in the picture. The D-backs are 2.5 games back of the second spot. They haven’t emerged as a contender for the division as they trail the leading Dodgers by 9.5 games. But they haven’t played bad baseball either, as they’re three games above .500 and remain in the loop entering Thursday.
The D-backs are maybe a Wild Card team.
But that uncertainty that the Wild Card presents doesn’t bother D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall.
“I think it is a good format and in particular because of our situation,” Hall told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “I think it rings true because there is so many teams that still have a chance.”
He cited the excitement it creates for the game and for the fans.
“When you look, depending on two weeks ago, or this week, so much changes yet so much is the same,” he said. “When you have nine teams that all have a legitimate chance, it keeps it exciting, it keeps fans intrigued and interested.”
The feel inside Chase Field for the 2017 game is something that has stuck with Hall. The energy inside the building was “like none I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Despite the stress of that game, it helped solidify Hall’s stance. He used a discussion he had with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before the game as an example, saying that he told the commissioner before first pitch that he wasn’t a fan of the one-game format. But after the D-backs’ win, things flipped.
“After we beat the Rockies, I ran into him [Manfred] and he said, ‘What do you think now?’ and I said, ‘I love it,’ and you know I still feel that way,” Hall said.
Hall also said that he believes the current format works best for league operations.
“If you’re going to go with longer series in the playoffs, then you either have to shorten the season or you have to start the season even earlier, so weather becomes an issue a factor either into November or into March,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty the Wild Card can create within baseball operations, Hall believes the D-backs are built to withstand that.
“I’ll give a lot of the credit to the type of players we have on this roster, but more importantly to the coaching staff and their leader [manager] Torey [Lovullo],” he said. “Torey will just not let a team go away. He’s always going to show a lot of faith in his roster regardless of what it is made up of and they’re going to have a lot of faith in him.”