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One-and-done? Cubs proposed 3-game, 2-day wild-card format

Even before Cubs became competitive again, team president Theo Epstein proposed a three-game wild-card format that involved a doubleheader.

PITTSBURGH – If Cubs team president Theo Epstein had his way, Tuesday’s doubleheader in Pittsburgh would be a sneak preview of the wild-card playoff in more ways than one.

If the season ended now, the Cubs and Pirates would play in a loser-out wild-card game in Pittsburgh to advance to the Division Series.

During a meeting of major league general managers in a recent off-season, Epstein proposed making the wild-card format a three-game series with the first two played as a doubleheader.

“I know the one game is really good for TV, but maybe there’s other ways to appeal to TV, give them a little more substance to that round of the playoffs,” Epstein said before Tuesday’s doubleheader.

That’s where the three-game, two-day format would come in, mitigating the chance for a fluke play or inning to determine the end of a team’s 163-game season.

“Because days are a premium that time of year, and you don’t want the teams that win the division having to wait too long and then get cold; it’s not fair to them,” Epstein said. “We talked about the doubleheader. That got rejected. But we’ll see.

“Honestly, not just kissing up here, I think the commissioner and his people have a really good feel for how to appeal to TV and also what’s fair, what respects the integrity of the regular season,” Epstein said. “They’re open-minded. So I would suspect that it would evolve over the years, maybe in the next [collective bargaining agreement].

“But it’s fine the way it is now. You can never come up with a scenario that’s perfectly fair to everybody.”