Friday, September 7, 2007

How I Would Fix the Playoffs

Did you realize that in the last 7 seasons that 8 of the 14 World Series participants were Wild Card winners? And that 4 of those 7 World Series were won by a Wild Card team? Considering that the 2 Wild Card teams account for 25% of the Playoff teams it is astounding that the Wild Card has accounted for 57% of the World Series these past 7 years. It also goes to show just how smart the Yankees are to avoid winning the division and increasing their chances of winning it all!

There is nothing wrong with a Wild Card team winning the World Series; it keeps the Postseason fun and allows more teams to compete down the stretch. However, when a statistical minority begins to dominate the results, it's time to reconsider the format.

Before the Wild Card winning the division was of extreme importance - no Playoffs without winning the division pennant. Now, there have been times when both a Wild Card and division leader take it easy down the stretch, content to make the Playoffs in either position. Based on the results, it would seem that this format benefits the lesser teams and can make September less thrilling than it used to be. I would like to restore the significance to winning the division and the league while getting more teams involved in the Postseason chase. My suggestion is to add 2 more Wild Card teams.

Now, I'm sure you're saying that the Playoffs are too long already as Game 7 is scheduled for November 1st this year, but that isn't an issue. The Wild Card team with the better record, let's call that team Wild Card A, would host the team with the lesser record, Wild Card B, in a one game tie-breaker the day after the season ended. The winner of that game in each league would then fly to play the team with the best record in their league the following night regardless if that team is in the same division as the Wild Card winner.

What this plan would ensure is that no team would willingly accept the Wild Card since it comes with a precarious proposition to make the Playoffs the day after the season ends. It would also reward the team with the best record in each league as they would face a depleted, tired Wild Card winner in the first round. More teams would remain in contention of the Wild Card B spot each year and division races would regain some of their lost tension and interest. Plus, fans of baseball would get 2 sudden-death games on the Monday after the season ends when there are typically no games being played!

Think about the current AL standings if this plan were in place: the Yanks would be killing themselves trying to catch Boston and if it got close the Sox would be sweating it. The Mariners and Tigers would be fighting it out for Wild Card B with the Blue Jays right on their tails.

To me it seems like a logical move as it would bring in a lot more revenue for MLB, keep more fans captivated into October and bring back the importance of winning the division pennant.


priv8pete said...

I decided to Google this idea and it appears that Jason Stark wrote about it a while back. Here's the link to his article:

Anonymous said...

Not since the invention of red wine ice cream and expansion of the Big Dance to include 65 teams, have I heard such an idiotic suggestion.

You might as well shorten the season down to 154 games again and allow the top 8 teams from each league into the playoffs. At least you wouldn't be cheapening the Divisional Series by using up the aces in your Wild Card game... and while we're at it, why even play a one game series. We could just flip a silver dollar at the end of the season to see if Wild Card A or Wild Card B should be allowed to play in the playoffs.

But it's okay... I still love you.

Joe said...

The Stark link didn't work for me so I don't know when he published that idea, but I'll go on record as saying you pitched it to me before he ever thought of it.

And I'll also go on record as saying this is one of the best ideas I've ever heard.

I say we run with this...let's start a grass roots movement...

priv8pete said...

@ anon
The whole point of the one game playoff would be to use up the Wild Card teams' best pitchers. That would be the reward to the team with the best regular season record - a tired, depleted team without their ace until game 4 in a best of five series.

The only thing that it would cheapen would be winning the Wild Card and that's the most untraditional part of the playoffs anyway! It gives us more entertainment, forces teams to win their division and gives a better reward to the team with best record in each league.

I just did a straw poll of my office and it's been decided: This idea is great.

Anonymous said...

I just took a straw poll at my office, and it's been decided that your office is filled with idiots.

My office would like to challenge yours to a game of dodgeball to decide this matter.

joe said...

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.

Michael in New York said...

Now this is a good thread. An anonymous blogger posting pointed, obnoxious comments. Good job, everyone! I do like the idea of making it more difficult to win the Wild Card and forcing them to exhaust their pitching more before getting to the post-season. I'd prefer just dumping the wild card altogether, but obviously that's a non-starter.