One of the exciting parts of the major league season happens when two or more teams are tied for the final playoff spot. A winner take all, win or go home game to end the regular season adds a great deal more drama, a perfect appetizer for the postseason. It is a tradition that helps make MLB different than the other major sports.
And it is now gone. According to Jayson Stark, Game 163 is gone now that the playoffs have been expanded. There will now be an NFL-style formula for tiebreakers instead.
MLB gets rid of Game 163 for expanded playoffs
It makes sense as to why this would happen. The first round is now more than a play-in game, making it more of a time crunch to get those postseason contests to begin. Playing baseball in the snow may be a fun novelty, but no one wants to have to worry about a World Series game being snowed out.
But this also takes away one of the more unique aspects of the game. The regular season is already a marathon, a 162 game grind where the best teams should rise to the top. To have the final spot determined in one last contest was something that showed how much every game in the regular season could matter.
This is not the first change to the tiebreaker. The National League used to have a three game series to determine that playoff spot prior to 1980. That series happened four times, with the Dodgers included in each of those matchups. This led to such statistical anomalies as Maury Wills appearing in a major league record 165 games in 1962, a record that will never be broken.
Chances are, this tiebreaker scenario will not be needed too often. The sudden death series or Game 163 has only been needed 12 times in MLB history. However, it was needed twice in 2018 as the NL West and NL Central divisions ended in a regular season tie. To lose a division, and possibly a playoff spot, due to some formula is the ultimate gut punch.
Game 163 was something special for MLB, a unique way to determine that final spot in the postseason. And now, it is gone.