One of the appeals of Major League Baseball has always been that the post season play wasn’t made up of a watered down group of teams that trudged into the playoffs, i.e. the NBA, NHL and NFL. We could usually count on the absolute cream of the crop to represent in the exiting knock out rounds. I really don’t believe we can say that anymore.
With a pending announcement later today, MLB will lay out the new playoff format. If media reports are accurate it will be 5 representatives in each league, with three division winners and 2 wild cards. The wild card winners will play each other in a one-game playoff. Due to the current alignment of teams in each division and league, by 2013, there will be 15 teams in each league, forcing there to be an inter-league series going on all of the time during the regular season. The end result is that 1/3 of the teams in each league will make it to post season play.
The rush into this new format was undoubtedly influenced by the exciting pennant race last year when in game number 162 the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays battled for the wild card spot and the Tigers and Twins competed for the division title. MLB believes that by having one game playoffs in each league, they have created an extremely exiting day of knock-out baseball. I’ll give them that, but they have essentially created an awkward scenario too. Please allow me to explain.
I never liked the playoff format. It’s blatantly unfair that teams in weak divisions qualify over teams with better records in stronger divisions. I know that the Wild Card is created to alleviate that scenario, but it doesn't always eliminate the unjust scenarios that play out when the dust settles after 162 games. It makes no sense that a Dodgers team that finished 92-70 in second place in the division, has to play in a Wild Card knock out game while a New York Met team that wins its division with a 84-78 record sits and rests because they won their weak division. I know the scenario I gave seems unlikely, based on the strength of the Eastern Division with Philadelphia, Atlanta and Florida in it, but throw out which team it is or switch the Mets and Dodgers around, the concept is the same. The argument could be made about any division.
|1995, the Angels were eliminated in a one game playoff at Seattle.|
There is no perfect scenario, I’m aware of that. But diluting the playoffs with more teams is the answer? I know to MLB management it is because of the extra revenue the post season games bring to the table. However, what MLB should focus on is properly rewarding those that won over the 162 game season. The true test of a teams worth is how they battled over the 162 game marathon and the clubs with the best records should be rewarded in a justifiable fashion. My answer isn’t perfect, but this is what I propose.
First: Throw out the division format. It rewards weak winning teams from inferior divisions and punishes clubs that battle it out season after season in a tough division like the AL East. If it were up to me, the playoffs would be scaled back to four teams in each league. The best record would play the fourth best record in a best of 7 format, and the second and third best records would also play in a seven game series.
Second: Balance the schedule in a way that makes it equitable for all. How can you accurately gauge a teams performance against another when one team has to play a tougher schedule than the other? This means that inter-league play is eliminated, but that’s for the better. It will bring the mystique of the World Series back. Is it really fair that the Dodgers have to play six games against the Angels each season while the Padres take on the Mariners for six, (or that the Mets play the Yankees while the Phillies get the Orioles). Teams aren’t playing the same schedule and they easily can. This isn’t the NFL with a limited amount of games.
Third: In order to balance the schedule, expansion to two more markets will be needed. The ideal situation would be contraction, to make the league more competitive, but we know that will never happen. Two 16 team leagues with 4 playoff teams representing the top 25% tier. That seems fair.
|The '69 Mets win the World Series, during the day.|
Fourth: Remove days off between games in the playoffs with the exception of travel days. This will reward teams that win a series quickly (with rest), and it keeps the baseball ryhthm in tact, much like the regular season. Additionally, some day playoff games and World Series games should be mandatory to bring back the old nostalgia and allow kids to determine accurately who the cool teachers are at their schools.
Fifth: In order to avoid November baseball. Bring back 3 doubleheaders for each team per season. Start the season on April 1st each year. Do not allow a TV partner like Fox to dictate the post season schedules to accommodate prime time television for each and every game.
Those are all good points and I don't intend to contradict any of them. I just wanted to say according to N.Y.'s Daily News sports reporters, the main reason for the extra wild card was because teams like the Yankees, when they are in first place, were resting their players and not that much caring about winning when they knew they had wrapped up the wild card because the third best team was too far out to over take them. They knew even if they lost the division they were still in the postseason. But you most likely are right, it's more for the money.ReplyDelete