I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy with the current structure of the baseball playoffs, but I do think it could be improved. SI’s Tom Verducci wrote a silly proposal about creating a Wild Card Weekend of sorts where the winner of the Wild Card would play the next best team in a game playoff for the right to play the team with the best record in the first round of the playoffs. Verducci’s idea is to inject more drama into baseball… This idea is worse than the best of five series, but more on that later.
I do think it’s time for MLB to make some changes. The first thing they should do is take the 3 divisions concept and throw that in the garbage. The next thing to do is to take inter-league play and march that off a cliff. The unbalanced schedule? That’s gone, too. Then they should cut the season down to 150 games or so. Finally, I’d like to see 12 teams make the playoffs. Let’s take this one point at a time:
Removing the Divisions
Do we really need these? No, we don’t. Winning the division essentially means nothing right now – as long as you make the playoffs, you make the playoffs as there is no penalty for winning the wild card. Does it really matter to the Rays and Yankees which one of them wins the AL East? I doubt it.
Removing Inter-League Play
Am I the only one who is tired of inter-league play? Sure, it’s cool to see some players or stadiums you wouldn’t ordinarily see, but this year, we saw the Houston Astros… big deal. The Yankees play the Mets every year, that’s all well and good, but in the end, I don’t need the Yankees to beat the Mets any more than I need them to beat the Orioles – in a 6 month season, it doesn’t really matter.
Removing the Unbalanced Schedule
I don’t understand why MLB thinks that the unbalanced schedule and the wildcard are compatible. Imagine an AL Central team wins the wild card – lets say the Tigers beat out the Rays by 1 game and win the wild card. The Tigers played the Royals 18 games during the year, while the Rays played them 6 times… that sounds unfair to me. Since I want to mothball the divisions, I don’t see why everyone can’t play everyone the same amount of times. Math is hard, but we’ll figure it out.
Shortening the Season
I don’t want to go too crazy, but I think 150 games or so sounds about right. The season doesn’t need to start in March and the playoffs don’t need to end in November, and I think trading 10 plus games for more playoffs is a fair trade.
12 Teams make the Playoffs
Six teams per league, folks. And since there will be no divisions, I want the six teams with the best records. I don’t want any flukes, so no more best of 5 series. I also want only 2 off days per series and 1 off day in between series.
There you have it – a system I think could be a lot more fun than the one we currently have in place. Time will tell if MLB will ever make a change, but as long as Bud Selig is around, I wouldn’t count on it.