PITTSBURGH — One and done?
After 162 games, the fact the second-best team in baseball is hosting the third-best team in a winner-take-all one-game playoff is unfair, objectively speaking.
Teams with 98 and 97 wins should have earned more than just one night to showcase their team.
But that's the world we live in with Major League Baseball's current wild-card format, and both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle can at least agree to appreciate the drama the one-game playoff brings, even if they wish they had a chance to play in a complete postseason series.
"It's great TV," Hurdle said during his press conference Tuesday. "There'll be a lot of people watching. It's probably a great revenue-maker. You gotta love the concept. It's great sport.
"It's been drawn up; we knew the rules coming in. ... It's the postseason. Only a few teams are in. A lot of teams are going to be left watching."
Maddon would rather MLB hold a three-game series between the two wild-card teams because he thinks that's the most fair way to do it, but he can still enjoy the do-or-die format.
"The only time you like one and done is when you win that first game," Maddon said. "Then you absolutely love it. ... It's the most fun and no fun at the same time."
Both Maddon and Hurdle acknowledged it would be tough for MLB to keep a division winner waiting for five, six or even seven days in order to play a three-game series between the wild-card teams.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shared his idea with reporters at Wrigley Field earlier this season — a three-game series but the first two games come in the form of a doubleheader to help save time.
Most Cubs players have yet to experience the thrill — and pressure — of a one-game playoff, but the Pirates understand what this is all about, having played in the last two National League wild-card games.
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The Pirates beat the Reds in 2013 to advance to the NLDS but lost to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants last season.
"The definition of this game is a 'wild-card' game," Hurdle said. "There are some things we're looking at that we need to do differently than we did in the past.
"Maybe there's a little bit of a 'wild-card' mentality for us as well."
Maddon has been in this one-game playoff situation before, too, as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013.
He refused to share his ideas for the Cubs' lineup against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, but a reasonable expectation is to have Kris Bryant in left field, Kyle Schwarber in right and Tommy La Stella at third base. That's how they lined up behind Jake Arrieta on Friday in Milwaukee, and both Schwarber and La Stella saw extra work in the field during Tuesday's team workout.
Either way, a Cubs lineup packed with young, inexperienced talent will have to avoid letting the pressure get to them with a Game 7-type atmosphere.
"You're thrown right into the fire," Bryant said. "I really wouldn't have it any other way."