© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

01/07/12 1:39 PM EST

Wild Card expansion would deliver more drama

Likely one-game playoff format promises thrills, history shows

Of all the modifications in the new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement that recently went into effect, none will be more consequential than the first expansion of Major League Baseball's playoffs since the 1995 advent of Division Series play.

An additional Wild Card team in each league will introduce the Wild Card Shootout -- or whatever name is eventually chosen for the new first round of the playoffs. It won't be Wild Card Series, because all indications are that most decision-makers favor a one-game format.

Owners will determine at their quarterly meetings, next week in Phoenix, whether to implement the new format for the 2012 season. If not, the new wrinkle would definitely arrive in '13.

"Much to my surprise," Commissioner Bud Selig said at the conclusion of the Dallas Winter Meetings, "baseball people liked the one game, and it will be dramatic."

The new playoff rung will thus bring new shots at postseason glory for two teams -- and abrupt dismissal for the two teams that lose Wild Card Shootouts, letting the air out of playoff balloons inflated the whole season.

Except, it won't be new.

Baseball history already is replete with one-game playoffs. The difference is that in the past they were invoked only to resolve season-ending ties. Teams involved in the new wave hope there will be one other difference: That they might actually make it to an occasional World Series.

The ensuing postseason success of past winners of one-game playoffs is dire, perhaps reflecting the emotional and physical toll of reaching and surviving the extra game. The winners of the first two playoffs -- the 1908 Cubs and 1948 Indians -- of course got direct passes into the World Series, and both won them; interestingly, the last title for each.

But since the creation of divisions brought about playoff tiers, eight teams have had to pass through one-game playoffs and the only one to go on to a World Series championship was the first -- the 1978 New York Yankees.

The seven subsequent winners of one-game tiebreakers combined to go 20-27 in the rest of their postseasons -- 13-23 for six exclusive of the 7-4 mark by the 2007 Colorado Rockies, the only other play-in survivor to reach the World Series, where they were swept by Boston.

All in all, a rough road, not at all encouraging. But a challenge any of the 30 will gladly take, and take their chances.

Snapshots of MLB's one-game playoffs ...

1908: Cubs 4 at Giants 2
• To there: The teams ended the season with matching 98-55 records, the result of the legendary Merkle's Boner episode. In their Sept. 23 game, the Giants' Fred Merkle was on first when Al Bridwell singled in the bottom of the ninth to "score" Moose McCormick with the winning run. Merkle stopped short of the base, departed the field as the alert Cubs made a play at second and, after days of controversy, was eventually ruled out, resulting in a 1-1 tie.

• There: In what officially was a replay of the Sept. 23 game but in essence was the first play-in game, Mordecai (Three-Finger) Brown outdueled Christy Mathewson at the Polo Grounds.

• From there: The Cubs downed the Tigers in five games for their second consecutive -- and last -- World Series title.

1948: Indians 8 at Red Sox 3
• To there: The Indians charged from third place to win 19 of their last 24 games and deadlock the Red Sox at 96-58.

• There: Player-manager Lou Boudreau went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers at Fenway Park.

• From there: The Indians downed the Boston Braves in a six-game World Series, with Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Lemon earning two of the wins.

1978: Yankees 5 at Red Sox 4
• To there: The same Bob Lemon, replacing Billy Martin as manager with the Bombers wallowing in fourth place, masterminded a 48-20 finish to overtake the Red Sox, who themselves regrouped to win their last eight and force a 99-63 tie.

• There: Bucky Dent. Three-run homer into the Green Monster net in the seventh.

• From there: The Yankees clipped the George Brett Royals in four games in the American League Championship Series, then took out the Dodgers in the World Series in six; the October after he'd earned his Mr. October laurels, Reggie Jackson kept at it by batting .400 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 11 games, including the play-in.

1980: Astros 7 at Dodgers 1
• To there: The Astros went into Los Angeles for the season-ending series with a three-game NL West lead over the Dodgers -- and were held over when Don Sutton, Jerry Reuss and an unknown rookie left-hander named Fernando Valenzuela throttled them for a sweep, creating a 92-70 deadlock.

• There: So much for momentum. Art Howe drove in four runs, on three hits including a two-run homer in the third, while Joe Niekro completed a six-hitter.

• From there: The Astros took two of the first three NLCS games, but were kayoed by the Phillies on consecutive 10-inning losses.

1995: Mariners 9 vs. Angels 1
• To there: In virtually a replay of the 1978 Boston-New York theatre, the Mariners finished 25-13 to wipe out a double-digit deficit to the Angels, who themselves regrouped to win their last five and force a 78-66 tie.

•There: Atypical Luis Sojo -- bases-clearing double; typical Randy Johnson -- 12-strikeout three-hitter.

• From there: The thrills kept coming with a five-game ALDS win over the Yankees -- capped by Edgar Martinez's two-run double in the 11th inning of Game 5 -- before a six-game loss to the Indians in the ALCS.

1998: Cubs 5 vs. Giants 3
• To there: The Giants won nine of their last 11 to catch the Cubs (5-6) at 89-73 and set up the first Wild Card play-in.

• There: The Cubs built a 5-0 lead for Steve Trachsel on Gary Gaetti's two-run homer and Matt Mieske's two-run pinch-hit single before the Giants struck for three runs in the ninth.

• From there: Three-and-out against the Braves in the Division Series, scoring a total of four runs.

1999: Mets 5 at Reds 0
•To there: Mind games aplenty, as the Mets swooned out of the NL East race with seven straight losses before regrouping to win four of their last five, while the Reds had streaked into the NL Central race with a six-game winning streak before a season-ending 1-4 slide resulted in a 96-66 tie for the Wild Card.

• There: Home runs by Edgardo Alfonzo and Rickey Henderson were merely backdrop to Al Leiter's two-hitter.

• From there: The Mets clinched a four-game NLDS victory over Arizona on Todd Pratt's homer in the bottom of the 10th of Game 4, then were frustrated by Atlanta in the NLCS, staying alive by taking a 15-inning thriller in Game 5 before getting kayoed in 11 innings in Game 6.

2007: Rockies 9 vs. Padres 8
• To there: The Padres didn't exactly collapse, finishing 7-6, but the Rockies' 12-1 blaze to the wire created an 89-73 tie for the NL Wild Card.

• There: Like Game 6 of the 2011 World Series -- only better, as Matt Holliday's triple capped a three-run bottom of the 13th.

• From there: Still no stopping the Rockies as they swept the Phillies in the NLDS and the D-backs in the NLCS -- giving them 20 wins in 21 games -- before running into Boston in the World Series.

2008: White Sox 1 vs. Twins 0
• To there: The White Sox (4-8) and Twins (6-8) both stumbled to the tape, breaking through tied atop the AL Central at 88-74.

• There: Jim Thome's seventh-inning homer validated the combined two-hit pitching of John Danks and Bobby Jenks.

• From there: Went down meekly in the Division Series, in four games to the Rays.

2009: Twins 6 vs. Tigers 5
•To there: Minnesota closed 16-4 to threaten Detroit with becoming the first club in history to miss the postseason after sitting atop the standings uninterrupted since early May.

• There: Threat backed up, as Matt Tolbert's RBI single in the bottom of the 10th extends the game, and Alexi Casilla's RBI single in the bottom of the 12th wins it.

• From there: Swept out of the ALDS by a familiar postseason tormentor, the Yankees.

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.