Starting in 1995 Major League Baseball introduced a new set of rules for the playoffs. They went from two divisions to three, and with three division winners now making the playoffs, rather than have a team get a bye they added a wild card team. That system lasted until 2012 when baseball added in a second wild card team. That’s still the system we have now – two wild card teams play a “winner moves on” game to take on the team in the league with the best record.
Well, that wasn’t enough for Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported on Monday evening that there’s a proposal out that that Major League Baseball wants to expand the playoffs again, this time having seven teams in each league make the playoffs. That’s nearly half of the league. And this plan would take over in 2022 if Major League Baseball were to have their way.
In this plan the team with the best record in each league would get a 1st round bye. The division winner with the second best record would then get to pick which wild card team they would like to play. The third division winner would then pick who they would play, leaving the two unpicked teams to play in the third “1st round” series. All of this “picking” would be played out on live television after the regular season has ended.
Baseball has plenty of issues that should probably be addressed. Making it so nearly half of the teams in the league make the playoffs doesn’t seem to be one that any person was asking to have fixed. Well, except for maybe one group of 30 – the team owners. For them, this means more baseball games in the playoffs, more ticket sales at premium playoff prices, and thus, a boatload of money that wasn’t there in the past. Aside from that, though, it’s tough to see what issue this is actually addressing. Was anyone out there wondering what the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks were going to do if they had made the playoffs? The 93-win team in Cleveland would have been an interesting addition in the American League, but the 84-win Boston Red Sox? Nope.
If there are going to be 14 teams that make the playoffs what is the point of the regular season? What we’d see is that the teams at the very top of the standings entering September would essentially go to week 16 and 17 models of NFL teams and just start sitting and resting half of their lineup for the last month.
Can you see an upside to the move to have seven teams in the playoffs? Do you think the “pick your opponent” thing adds anything to the situation? It just all seems like another way for Major League Baseball owners to suck every last penny that they can out of the sport while they still can – at least to this specific baseball writer.