New Watered Down Playoff System Brings Lesser Teams New Hope
In 2011 the team that tied for the tenth best record in major league baseball won the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals were a good team at 90-72, but were they the best team in baseball? If your measurement is winning the World Series the answer is yes. Using any other criteria the answer is definitely not. They were a team that got hot at the end of the year and that carried over throughout the postseason.
The real question is: should a team that has the tenth best record in baseball have the right to play in the World Series?
The clear answer is no.
But soon it will be a reality every year with the new baseball playoff structure.
Let’s be honest. This is about one thing – more money.
Many people will disagree with this, but I believe the format for baseball should be the best two teams should play each other in each league and that is it. Cut out a dozen to twenty games during the regular season. Eliminate ten to fourteen teams. And while you’re at it bring the Dodgers back to Brooklyn.
From 1903 until 1968 when major league baseball had between sixteen to twenty teams, the winners of each league faced each other in the World Series. The World Series started in late September or early October and was concluded before Columbus Day, not closer to Veteran’s Day like it is now. No playoff rounds or wildcards. Mano a mano. The best against the best. Oh, and all the games were played in the daytime so you didn’t have to keep drinking caffeine to stay awake at midnight on the east coast to watch the conclusion.
When expansion in 1969 added four additional teams, the American and National Leagues divided into two divisions in each league. Playoff rounds of best of five were instituted between the winners of each division to then decide who got to the World Series.
No problems. You have 24 teams now and it would still be the winners of each division: four teams battling for the top honor. But expansion to 26 teams in 1977; then 28 teams in 1993 and finally 30 teams by 1997 made wildcard playoff spots inevitable.
Each baseball expansion led to clamoring for more revenue to be gathered, and the “it’s not fair we had a great record, but didn’t make the playoffs” argument more palatable.
Why Stop At Ten Teams Making The Playoffs?
Baseball has finally gone beyond the wildcard round that was first instituted in 1995 allowing eight teams to make the playoffs, to a new format that will allow ten teams. Yes, there will now be ten teams in the playoffs beginning in either 2012 or 2013.
Unlike the National Basketball Association, National Football League and National Hockey League which have expanded playoffs and where the 16th best team in the NHL could conceivably win the championship, baseball’s playoffs were relatively tough to get into until 1995. With realignment and wildcards added to a ridiculously overlong regular season, the champion could be a team with a winning percentage barely reaching .500.
The Welsey Mouch-ian Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, is of course proud of this dilution of the quality of playoff qualifying teams.
“You don’t do things for only one year. You do things for a long period of time,” Selig said. “We believe after a lot of study and a lot of thought that the addition of two wildcards is really going to help us in the long run. One thing you learn is that baseball is a metaphor for life and nothing’s perfect. But I think people are excited about it. They should be.”
Yes, help us make more money for undeserving teams that should not be involved in the post season to begin with.
The other horrible effect of this change is the shifting of the Houston Astros to the American League, resulting in 15 teams in each league. Interleague play year will now be year round. Why bother having leagues? What makes the World Series special anymore? Nothing.
“The 15-15 [split of teams] will take place in 2013, of course,” Selig said. “The Wild Card situation, we’re still working on. We hope to have it for next year, but we have some judgments to make on that point.”
While you’re at it Commissioner Selig, let’s continue to expand baseball to about forty teams, and the playoffs to six rounds and have then you can have the 22nd best record in baseball qualify for the playoffs and win a World Series.
What were once historically two separate rival leagues that despised one another, are now separated by what? Nothing but the designated hitter rule, which is only used in the American League. Other than that distinction, baseball has truly become one big collection of a bunch of overpaid multi-millionaire players, playing for greedy owners at the expense of the fans who have their wallets sucked dry by rising ticket and cable television prices.
This latest move will continue to bring baseball closer to irrelevancy.