Last week, it became clear that baseball was moving towards expanding the playoffs to ten teams, adding one from each league. The details have yet to be hammered out, but we know that the two wildcard teams would play each other in some format, whether it’s a best of three or a one game, winner take all playoff. I don’t love either idea, or the big idea for that matter.
A one game playoff for teams that aren’t competing for the same spot just seems silly. Aren’t you basically negating the entire season at that point? As for a three game playoff, it makes more sense but is still time consuming, and makes the division winner wait longer, and possibly get rusty (it could help them rest up, too, though).
As for the big idea, adding teams to the playoffs, I just don’t like it. I think there needs to be tinkering with the playoff system, but not in this way. Adding a team could basically reward a team for coming in third place, something that I don’t like at all. People say it will also add to the incentive to win a division crown, since teams won’t want to have to play a one game playoff or a three game series if they only make the wildcard. If anything, this de-emphasizes winning a division crown. Why should I, as a manager, bust my team’s proverbial hump to win a division when I can possibly coast into a playoff spot as a second or possibly third place team?
This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be changes made to the playoffs. The changes should not include adding a new team, though. And, my plan for playoff realignment includes complete and total league realignment. Four teams in the playoffs is a good fit, but the current division system isn’t all that great. Though I doubt this ever happens again, MLB needs to go back to the no-division style of play. The divisions should be eliminated and the schedule should be balanced as much as possible. I understand the schedule would still need to be a little unbalanced to account for historical rivalries, but balancing out the schedule seems sensible. After that, the teams with the four best records would be the ones to make the playoffs. Those teams would be seeded for the LDS, with the team with the better record getting home field advantage (obviously), and the same would apply for the LCS. The team with the best record would get home field advantage in the World Series.
What do you think? Should MLB go ahead with the playoff expansion plans or should they ditch them? Do you think changes should be made? If so, what should they be? Have at it, commenters!