I understand that the wild card has produced some of the best postseason games and series' since its inception. I understand that a second place team can be better than another division's winner. Yes, I understand these things. But the fact of the matter is, you have 162 games to to show you belong in the playoffs by winning your division. Not 16 as in football or 81 as in basketball and hockey (don't get me started on them - what the hell do you have to do to NOT make the playoffs?), but 162. Maybe its the baseball purist in me, but I want the winner of the world series to be the best team in baseball that year, not the hottest team at the end. No way in hell were the Florida Marlins the best team in baseball either time they won the world series. But since they got hot toward the end, they're the champs. They can't win the National League East after 162 games and 6 months , but we'll call them world champs for winning over a two and a half week span. And I'm not picking on the Marlins, several other teams have done the same thing.
Most of the time, the wild card team has an advantage in the first round, as they get to play a team that usually hasn't played a meaningful game in weeks, while the wild card team has had to be on all cylinders (or they wouldn't be there). And why is the first round the best of 5 games and not 7? That's even more of an advantage for the wild card team. One team has shown they can win over the course of 162 games, then they have to play a wild card team who is playing hot and only has to win 3 times against them. Again, the wild card team can't win its division over 162 games, but gets to continue if it can win 3 of 5.
I understand the wild card in football, as 16 games can't necessarily determine the best teams, especially when they don't even play every team in the conference. But baseball has an exhaustive season. 162 games is enough to say that only division winners should get in. They play all the teams in the league and they play each team in their divsion several times.
I think we should either go back to the two division league (east-west), or somehow create an extra division to make four. Since there probably isn't enough teams for four divisions, two is probably better. No wild cards. Win your division or watch the playoffs on TV. You had long enough to show you should be there.
I'm also not a fool. I realize this won't happen. The wild card ensures there will be some type of race to make the playoffs and gives an extra round in the playoffs, equaling more viewership and hence more money. Money will trump ensuring the best teams over the course of the season play in the world series. But I would just like the satisfaction of knowing that the team who won the world series is the best team that year.