Jan
21

Musings on an expanded playoff format

By

The business of baseball is alive and well right now. The sport is drawing in well over $6 billion in revenues; attendance is at an all-time high; and the players and owners are enjoying unprecedented riches. In fact, considering the game’s prosperity, a casual fan would be hard-pressed to know that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners expires this year.

In essence, it’s a good time for the CBA to come due. While players might agitate for a higher minimum salary and bigger cut of those billion-dollar revenue totals, the biggest complaints concerning the game’s economic structure right now involve draft pick compensation for free agents and, of course, knocking down the Yankees. The Bombers have not been deterred by revenue sharing or luxury tax payments, and in fact, they’ve kept on spending at higher and higher levels.

But the Yankees are a minor issue in the grand scheme of the game. As David Pinto noted earlier this week, baseball’s big issues “seem to be settled.” Pinto instead wonders if the CBA negotiations might be more macro in scope. How would a group of owners and players redesign the game if they were starting from scratch today? Can, he asks, baseball restructure itself to “give teams more of a chance of making the playoffs?”

It seems as though one of the ways baseball will try to reinvent itself is with another playoff seed. Toward the end of 2010, we heard that a fifth team from each league would qualify for a playoff game or series against the traditional Wild Card team. This would allow more teams to reach October and would sustain interest in the game throughout the fall. Would it help?

Out of idle curiosity tonight, I took a look back at the recent AL playoff picture. While baseball on the whole doesn’t really have a major competitive balance problem, the AL does, and right now, the American League East is ascendant. A team from the East has reached the ALCS in each of the last four seasons. In three of those four years, the AL East team has reached the World Series, and in two of those four years, the AL East has won the World Series.

The Wild Card lately too has been dominated by the American League East. Since 2003, an AL East team — the Yankees, the Red Sox or Rays — has won the Wild Card every year except 2006. Three times since 2003, the two AL East teams have faced each other in the American League Championship Series. In other words, nine of the last 16 ALCS teams have come from one division, and based on the distribution of talen within the American League, it’s tough to see this outcome changing over the next few seasons. The Yankees and Red Sox have the clear financial edge, and the Rays have put together a front office capable of building perennial contenders on a budget. Only the fact that these two teams play each other so often will give anyone else a slight opening.

The extra Wild Card would solve this problem to a certain extent. Only in 2010 and 2008 would three AL East teams have reached the playoffs with a second Wild Card. The AL West would have captured the crown four times and the Central once with a split in 2007. The second Wild Card then would generally ensure that some team that isn’t the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays reaches the playoffs.

So is that a solution to improving baseball? I’m not in love with the wild card nature of a Wild Card playoff, and it would open up the field to a bad team having a hot month. But absent a tricky realignment based perhaps on economic clout or a steeper penalty against the rich teams, it might be the best baseball can do right now. Either way, hearing about creative ways to improve the game will be far better than rumors of a strike. I can easily live with labor peace.

Categories : Playoffs
  • Ed

    If the same three teams problem was the 3 top spenders, I’d agree there’s an issue. But it’s 2 top spenders and one team that’s usually been near the bottom with payroll.

    Tampa really changes things… if the issue was strictly “money = playoff spot”, then yeah, I’d agree it was worth considering changes. But really the issue comes down to their happen to be 3 extremely well run teams in one division.

    That’s not a problem, it’s just luck of the draw. They can’t all be good forever. Nothing’s stopping teams in other divisions from pulling off what Tampa’s done.

    • Mike HC

      The A’s did it for a while too, and while they are still competitive almost every year, which is commendable, you will inevitably drop off eventually if you are working with limited resources.

      • Ed

        Yeah, the A’s did have a nicesustained run. Also, the Twins have been good for 9 of the past 10 years, and it’s only this past year that they started spending big.

        Everyone’s going to drop off eventually though, regardless of payroll. The Yankees are going to hit another stretch like the late 80’s – early 90’s eventually.

        • Moo Chow Loo

          “Everyone’s going to drop off eventually though, regardless of payroll. The Yankees are going to hit another stretch like the late 80?s – early 90?s eventually.”

          You watch your mouth!!!

      • hogan

        You have to wonder now though if Billy Beane’s real secret weapon wasn’t Moneyball but… steroids. :D

        See also: 2003, 2004 Red Sox

  • YankeesJunkie

    If they were going to change things I like Mike’s idea the best were the teams basically play a balance schedule in the AL and where 15-18 inter league games are the only part that are unbalanced with the top 4 overall teams go to the playoffs. I know people say people wouldn’t see a 14th place or 16th place team, but that the fact is still true when they are 40 games out regardless.

    • Ed

      If MLB really is concerned about two of the Yanks/Sox/Rays making the playoffs every year, that would only make it worse. You’d just make it likely to see all three of them make it in.

    • hogan

      If you are going to have a balanced schedule than what is the purpose of divisions? Everyone should get thrown into one big AL and NL then with the top 4 or 5 advancing.

      This always gets ignored in this argument. Without unbalanced schedules divisions are just something pretty to look at in the newspaper.

  • Mike HC

    I would be up for up to 6 teams per league, so 5 is definitely good with me. I would also be for getting rid of most of the off days and just having baseball all day every day for the playoffs. Day off for travel and that is it.

    • Mike HC

      I should add shortening the season back to 154 games would sound good to me too with the expanded playoffs.

      • jim p

        This would allow more teams to reach October

        Also might let more teams reach November.

        • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

          @jim p … Exactly. AND very undesirable.

  • Andrew518

    This issue really gets me, more teams in the playoffs doesn’t make the game better, it just waters it down more. After 162 games those who belong and those who don’t have been weeded out. Adding more chance to it may make a few markets happier but it certainly doesn’t insure that the best team comes out on top, which in my opinion should be the point of the playoffs. Yes, those games in April ARE as important as those in September.

    • MattG

      Don’t think of it that way, then. Right now, your wildcard has as good a chance as anyone else. There is no reason to try and win your division. That sucks.

      Adding a fifth team doesn’t dilute it, it creates tiers. Suddenly, the teams that won their division have a significant edge in the playoffs–a right they earned over 162 games. Only one of those other two will be on equal footing, and the other will be done.

      • Jonso

        So the team that wins 5 fewer games in an easier division earned an edge over the team that won the wild card? okay…

  • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

    Pro-sports is for money. It is a business. Nobody guarantees your business will be equal to the others. The rules apply to fairness on the field, where all are equal. Off the field, the rules don’t & can’t be equal. Fair? that is determined by who’s making the rules. Not a team i.e. the NYY.

    MLB needs to be restructured. They won’t do it because they believe they don’t need to – which translates -they are still making $. If they are determined for fan interest, rather than just revenue, to make another team eligible for play-offs, they’ll obviously not go for the only decent move – add a one off play in game. But only for the Wild Card AND until the new math geeks rule the world, wins & losses will still matter -the 3 division leaders/best records are in – the play in “winner,” gets to be the 4th. A full opening round series will extend into cold weather. They make noises about caring -their actions prove they must not care about the quality of play, the health of players & certainly not their meal ticket – the fans.

    Turning MLB into the rest of the pro leagues is pure BS. Baseball is NOT meant to be played in November – in the NE & Midwest. If the reg season starts looking like qualifying games for post-season, that watering down factor will turn to ice. They all ready have a sport for that – it’s called hockey. However, I know it’s all about money or they would re-do the entire way they are organized. Why they have 16 teams in one league & 14 in another is stupid. Why not six, 5 team divisions? and a tier based merit system like Euro football? because they are greedy/short-sighted.

    • Plank

      Small point but the reason they have the divisions at 14 and 16 is because if they had odd numbers of teams then one team would have to take days off at a time, or they would have to have constant inter-league match-ups.

      Also, to the leagues eyes “increased fan interest” as you put it is identical to “more revenue.”

  • Hughesus Christo

    I don’t think “bad team” is fair here. You’re most likely talking about a team in the low 90s in Ws. That 2nd WC usually has more wins than the 3rd division winner.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I made a similar argument in another thread a while back when this topic came up, and it’s actually probably not true.

      Regarding the first part of the argument, that second WC team will, in all likelihood, be in the high 80s in wins.

      Year AL 2nd WC NL 2nd WC
      2010 89 90
      2009 87 88
      2008 89 89
      2007 88 89
      2006 90 85

      Regarding the argument that these second WC teams wouldn’t necessarily be any worse than the teams already in the playoffs, it’s unclear. 2 of the 10 teams that would be have been the hypothetical 2nd WC team in the last five years had a better record than a division winner (in the NL in ’06 and ’07 when the NL Central was awful), and 2 of the 10 teams had the same record as a division winner. It really depends how you look at the numbers*, you either see that only 20% of the hypothetical 2nd WC teams in the last 5 years had better records than a division winner and, even then, it was only when one division was abnormally bad, or you see that 40% of the hypothetical 2nd WC teams in the last 5 years had either the same record or a better record than a division winner.

      This second part of the argument (comparison to division winners) was the part I thought would look a little different when I first looked into this, I expected more of those hypothetical 2nd WC teams to have better records than division winners, but it usually doesn’t work-out that way.

      *Obvious small sample size caveat applies here, I don’t have time to look at many more years.

  • MattG

    I do not see it as opening a door for a bad team. I see it as penalizing the best second place team in the league, by making their road harder. I also see it as restoring the need to finish first in your division.

    These are both very good things.

  • Brian in NH

    Just an FYI…the link to a David Pinto article seems to be broken.

    Also, I would be in favor of returning to a balanced schedule with just an AL and just an NL. We can do top 5 teams from each league make the playoffs. Also, you won’t have teams like the Yanks and Sox padding their schedule against teams like the Orioles or the Twins winning 16 out 18 games against the lowly Royals or something (that could all change this year, but recently speaking). You can also move one of the NL teams back to the AL so each league has 15 teams (welcome back Milwaukee). Maybe also reduce the number of regular season games to like 154 (15 teams a league, each team plays another 11 times). taht way you have more calendar for an expanded playoffs. You could have 8 playoff teams from each league and just make sure each team follows a more regular season schedule of playing every day (or close to it)

  • Mikeman

    Couple of things on this competitive stuff: 1-I am convinced that there needs to be a ‘team management review system’ of some sort. So much vitriol is directed toward the Yankees for being this big monolith of income/spending but where’s the outcry against the alleged ‘have-nots’ for their own extremely poor management of the resources they have? Most of the have-nots make money off the Yankees/Red Sox/Phillie/Mets but they do not put that money into making their teams better, they just pocket the money. The fans in places like Pittsburgh, KC, Seattle, AZ, Miami, Cleveland do not get to see winners consistently because their respective managements misuse the resources they have. How many years in a row can a team legitimately claim that they are rebuilding…think Pitts and KC here. In every other business climate, poor management=closed doors…in MLB, poor management=’rich team subsidies year after year.’ Somehow that just doesn’t seem right to me.
    2-How about penalizing the existing/proposed WC teams by making them wait to play the winner of the 1-3/2-4 seeding? Sure, they’d get more time off to heal from injuries or whatever but they’d be cold as a stone when it was time for them to play again. It seems to me that year after year it’s the team that sails through the first round and has to wait for the other round to finish that loses momentum…think Yankees last year. Take the four best teams, give them a best 3 out of 5 for the opening round, one travel day in each round (staggered for max TV time) and then best 4 of 7 for those winners with 2 days off, the hot winner of which gets to play a cold team in a 3 out of 5 to go to the World Series.

    It’s radical and crazy but if ever there was a time for some changes, it would be now.

  • Rosco

    I know this is far out there and there’s not enough talent as it is but add 2 teams, maybe look into adding 1 in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Each league has 4 division’s and you have 6 teams make the playoff’s just like the NFL.

    2 best records get a bye for the 1st round but you have to cut the regular season back some or just start the season earlier and have the first 2 series for each team start in a dome or warm weather city.

    I know MLB doesn’t want to shorten the season so maybe make the players earn their money and play a few doubleheaders.

    • BPDELIA

      Yeah my issue with that is I think in baseball a bye WEEK might not be such a good idea.

      This is why I’m saying the first round starts the DAY AFTER the season. IT’s a three game series, with no travel days because the higher seed gets all three games at home. That way we only have a 3 day layoff max.

      ALso let the number one seed decide if they want the bye or if they want to play the 3 game series at home. IF the first seed elects the bye (which I’m assuming most would) then the two wildcards play that series with the #1 wild card getting them all at home.

  • BPDELIA

    My only issue with this is I think they’ll screw up the game.

    A play in series would be horrible. Baseball teams play a 162 game grueling schedule to determine who makes the playoffs. Having a second wild card finish 3 games back and then get a ONE GAME play in simply destroys the POINT of the mLB schecule.

    Baseball’s schedule is created to separate the wheat from the chaff and I don’t like the chaff getting a second shot in a one game play in.

    The only way this works for me is if it is a 3 game series with ALL of the home games going to the higher seeded team.

    From there you go along as normal.

    but a second wild card should have a severe disadvantage in my opinion.

    We play 162 and it does a pretty good job of selecting the 4 best teams in each league.

    • Plank

      I know I am far, far in the minority on this, but I don’t like the playoffs at all. I am more satisfied when the yankees finish with the best record in the league than when they win the WS. I wish they went back to the days of no playoffs, just regular season, then WS.

      • hogan

        Wow, someone more traditional than me! I love it. You’re pre World Series, like pre 1903!

        • Plank

          I like the WS. I wish there were no division or champion series. I wish it went straight from regular season with no divisions in AL and NL to the WS consisting of the teams best records from each league.

          Personally though, if the Yankees have the best record of all 30 teams and lose the WS, I would be more satisfied than if they had the lesser record but won the WS. Again, I know I’m in the minority.

    • hogan

      We’re both traditionalists in a sense. you just use 1994 as your starting point and I use pre-1994.

      The divisions with their unbalanced schedules are like leagues unto themselves. They are not perfect, like one division having four teams and another having six is insane but if you can’t win your little mini-league after 162 games then you don’t belong.

      The two wild card teams should be happy to be there. Over a 162 game schedule they won NOTHING. And with an unbalanced schedule you don’t really know if the wild card team with the better record is better than the one with the worse record. They play vastly different schedules. So give the better record team two home games and the lesser team one.

    • toad

      My only issue with this is I think they’ll screw up the game.

      Pretty serious issue, but I agree. The longer the playoffs the less meaningful the regular season.

      Besides, this approach opens up the possibility of shenanigans late in the year (as the wild card does already), as division leaders rest their regulars against some teams, but not others, and so on.

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    I’m a fan of what was written on FG today: Go back to the two division formula, balance out the schedule a bit, and have the top four teams from each league make the playoffs.

    • BPDELIA

      You know I’m actually a fan of what my father has been bitching about for about 8 years now. Go back to NO divisions. No interleague play, a balanced schedule, then you let the top 4 teams in.

      He also says he’d have no problem with 6 teams in but that you’d have to re seed the teams after each playoff round. I have no problem with that.

      Again my only tweak would be giving a clear advantage to the top teams.

      In the first round the higher seed would get 4 home games to the lower seeds 1 home game.

      This has the advantage of making the regular season even MORE important as the difference between being a 1-3 seed and a 3-6 seed would be humongous.

      SO yeah, two leagues, balanced schedule. 6 teams make it. First round higher seed gets 4 of 5 games at home. Reseed after the first round, higher seed in second round gets the normal 4 of 7 at home.

      Oh and BEST RECORD OVERALL gets home field advantage in the world Series.

      • BPDELIA

        Or even better in my opinion (because I’m obsessed with the best team after 162 games having a CLEAR playoff advantage; otherwise why play 162?) would be as follows:

        The #1 and #2 seed both get first round byes. This would only be a 4 day bye (enough time to straighten out the pitching) because the first series only has one travel day in it.

        Series pitting team #3 against team #6 is a three game series played entirely in the #3 seeds city.

        4 vs 5 the four seed gets 2 games at home

        In the next round we got to a normal 5 game playoff schedule after reseeding. SO you’d have #1 against the lowest remaing seed with 4 games at home for the first seed.

        #2 would go against the higher seed with the normal 3 games at home.

        In the ALCS we reseed again and play a normal 7 game series.

        It is fairly radical but, I can’t stress this enough, baseball has a 162 game season and superiority over the course of that season should confer a significant advantage for the better teams.

        My system gets an xtra 2 teams per league into the playoffs while still giving us the very best chance of having the best BASEBALL TEAMS (i.e the teams that were built to win across an entire season) make it to the WOrld Series.

        As a bonus it increases competitivness in the regular season because the advantages of a high seed are so pronounced.

        GOne will be teams who coast into the playoffs because the difference between a top 3 seed and a bottom 3 seed are HUGE.

        ANd teams will scrap like crazy to get that top 1 or 2 seed.

        • BPDELIA

          You see the reason a team would KILL themselves to get thAT #1 SEED. Igives them a path to the LCS that has only one road game.

          LIke wise the difference between #2 and #3 is significant. A 2 seed gets a bye to straighten out the pitching staff while the 3 seed has to play a 3 game series.
          If the team with the SIXTH best record wants to make the LCS they have to basically win 2 out of 3 on the road, then advance and win 3 out of five agianst the one seed with 4 games in the #1 seed stadium.

          In other words a six seed has to win 2 of three on the road, then go and win 2 out of 3 in the one seeds stadium to have a chance at the LCS.

          IF a team does that, more power to them, but the playoffs should confer a clear advantage to a #1 100 win team over a team that can probably sneak in at 81-81 as a six seed.

          A 19 game regular season difference over 162 games should get you more advantage then ONE more home game.

          Thats why teams cruise to the playoffs now. IT was simply not enough incentive for the yankees last year to try and win the division. The benefit was not worth the effort.

          My system ends that issue completely

      • hogan

        I don’t mind this. But what advantage does the league winner get over say the second place team in a playoff match up? Do they only get home field advantage? Heavy home field advantage? Important questions considering they won the entire league over 162 games. They should be rewarded, right?

  • chris

    If after 162 games baseball still can’t figure out who should qualify for the playoffs they have major problems. The baseball season is the most accurate guage of any sport on separating good teams from average teams. What is the point in a regular season that is so long if you are going to let in more and more teams? I am so sick of the anti AL East suggested changes. If other teams want to make the playoffs get a better dam team, don’t change the rules.

    This whole thing could blow up in baseballs face if Boston or New York have a down year and end up hosting the play in round. I’m sure its just what small market teams want to see. Boston and New York with EXTRA playoff games = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    • BPDELIA

      I agree that’s why in my system the advantage conferred to the top 2 seeds is so huge. We have the best pro sports system for separating the top teams. IF after 162 games all you get is one extra home game against a team who finished probably 15-20 games behind you then you have a real problem in my opinion.

  • roadrider

    What makes you think that having the three best teams in the league make the playoffs most of the time is a “problem”?

    Baseball does not need more wild cards (it doesn’t need ANY in my opinion). The playoffs are already way too long, the season extends way too far into the fall and the World Series almost an anti-climax.

    Less is more. Go back to two divisions per league and have ONLY the division winners advance to the LCS. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that system except it didn’t yield enough TV $$$$ for the greedy bastards who run the sport.

    • BPDELIA

      realistically it is impossible to go back to less playoff teams. That won’t happen, nor should it. IT would mean the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. ANd in general the extra two playoff teams HAS helped keep interest in the sport in an extra 5 to 10 cities a year that would have had no shot otherwise.

      I have no problem with another 2 playoff teams, just make the advantage for the top teams greater.

      IN general having more teams have a shot at the playoffs is good for the game.

      It makes mid level teams have a hot at postseason. IT allows a team like Washington to legitimately take a shot at the playoffs instead of constantly building for the future and would help small market teams spend more.
      If a team ahs a hsot at the extra revenue generated from a post season run they are more likely to spend on player payroll and that is a good thing for the game.

      Having more teams have a shot may not appeal to our old schooly aesthetics but it definitely helps keep interest in cities that otherwise would have nothing to play for (and therefore give fans zero reason to watch.)

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      I actually like the wild card…but only one. The reason the postseason is too long is not due to the extra round, it’s due to the idiots at MLB who demand extended breaks between series. How about this, when the two opening rounds in the division series are complete, the Championship series begins after one travel day? Same thing with the break between the Championship series and World Series…one day break. Sorry if that screws up pitching rotations or TV schedules, but so be it.

      I’m also sick of hearing that it’s impossible logistically to schedule hotels and flights that soon. I don’t believe that for a second. That’s a huge cop out. It’s funny that it’s not a problem for one-game playoffs. Tell me what happened last year when three NL teams went down to the last day not knowing if or where they were playing the next day. I guarantee the Padres would have been glad and able to deal with that “problem.”

  • Pete C.

    There is something called too much of a good thing. Playing baseball in March, November or both, fits that description.
    If we’re going to have 5 play-off teams in both leagues, shorten the regular season, to 154 games, cut out inter-league play and abolish the unbalanced schedule.
    None of that’s going to happen.
    154 games gives more time for another play-off round.
    remove inter-league because it ‘s just in the way.
    and playing a balanced sked gives the respective leagues enough games to really figure out who belongs in the postseason.

  • chris

    I like interleague play but they should make it a little more flexable. I don’t think the Mets and Yankees need to play 6 times a year. Three is enough and they can switch home sites every year. It opens up fans seeing another NL team per season. I’m sure you could do the same for the Cubs and Sox, Angles and Dodgers and Tampa Bay and the Marlins.

    The shorter season is an idea but the players would never go for it because its likely the owners would want to cut salaries.

    I hate the idea of another wild card. The chief complaint about the MLB playoffs right now is lack of flow and days off. Adding a play in round (which is what the extra wild card is really) just extends the time off and playoffs.

    The LDS series should be games 1,2 Off 3,4,5
    The LCS series should be games 1,2 Off 3,4,5 Off 6,7
    The World Series should be games 1,2 Off 3,4,5 Off 6,7

    Eliminate all other off days…thats 22 days of baseball if every series went to the max. Plenty long.

  • hogan

    Including another wild card team is an odd thing in that it can please both the traditionalist and non-traditionalist alike.

    Personally, I don’t like the wild card as it is now. If you play 162 GAMES and win your division, the idea of having to play a second place team in a five game series in the first round or the second place team from your very own division in the second round in a seven game series strikes me as plain stupid if not unfair. We spent six months proving we’re better than this team but, oh well, they got hot and beat us this week. Doesn’t work for me. This is baseball, not hockey.

    But including a second wild card team designed to basically compete with the other wild card team does interest me. It removes the feeling of safety a team can get now by holding the wild card because now a wild card team is more or less equal to the division winners. All they lose is home field advantage. But with the new scheme you’d be forced into a best of three or single game playoff death match just to get into the post-season. This adds some level of fear attached to being the wild card now and rewards the division winners much better.

    So traditionalists win because they get an increased advantage and probability of victory for division winners. And non-traditionalists win because they get another team and round in the post-season. If you think about it, it’s not really an extra round, it’s a play-in game or round.

    It’s too bad they didn’t do it this way from the start in 1994!

  • hogan

    Just want to add some other thoughts…

    The owners wont’ agree to shorten the season to 158 or 154 games but one way to shorten the length of the season would be to have league wide double headers on say… Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

    Of course, a much tighter day-to-day post-season schedule would shorten the season too. As it’s constituted now with these tv network required day offs and gaps it warps the way the teams played for six months.

    I am very much in favor of punishing the wild card team(s) with less home games.

    I am against home field in the World Series being decided in the All-Star Game. Unless, for once, the game was played and managed like a real game and not an exhibition. Even then, it just doesn’t feel right. Just look at history… there are plenty of long winning streaks by both leagues. Do you really want one league not having home field for ten years?

    If interleague is here to stay can we please reduce the games to two weeks in the season? That’s it. I would really prefer everyone pair up with a rival for just one weekend. The Yankees don’t need to be playing the Mets six times and the Royals five.

  • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

    No thank you to an extra wild card team. As has been the case too often in the NFL recently, inferior teams advance past superior teams (because anything can happen on any given day) and has made for some boring playoff games and forgettable football. Let’s call it what it is…another money grab. And don’t be fooled for a second. If baseball gets their foot in the door with supposedly a one or three game wild card “qualifier,” they WILL soon be looking to expand that round as well. Likely they will sacrifice the 162-game schedule in that case, which I would ONLY be happy with if they revoke interleague play completely and the All-Star game determining home field advantage.

  • http://www.coffeewithian.com Ian

    I came up with a similar idea last year, when both the Yankees and Rays were coasting in September, and didn’t put up a fight to win the division since they both were going to make the playoffs anyway.

    My proposal is as followed:

    1. The teams from the division that wins the Wild Card is not eligible to win the Wild Card the following season. This would end the AL East’s dominance on the WC, at least every other year.
    2. The 2nd place finishers from the remaining two divisions would play a one game playoff to determine the Wild Card. Therefore, only teams that clinch the division during the season would have the luxury of resting for the playoffs.

    Banning entire divisions for a full year would add a new incentive for people to watch the Wild Card game. Let’s say its the Red Sox and Twins in the game. Yankee fans would tune in the root against Boston so they have the wild card option the next season, etc.

    • Midland TX

      Yes, I would rather have seen the Yankees push their aging veterans down the stretch so that they’d be gassed or injured for the playoffs. And suppose they had done so, and won the Wild Card, as they did, only with 98 wins instead 95. Your plan would still disqualify them next year if they ended up behind Boston or Tampa Bay even though they’d still likely be echelons better than Minnesota, the White Sox, or whatever other junk would get the nod in your scheme.

      This plan is so dumb your last name must be O’Connor.

  • Preston

    I hate the idea that what happens one season should affect the next as dramatically as you’re suggesting Ian. I also think that the main impetus behind changing the Wild Card is that the last three seasons arguably the best three teams in the AL during the regular season have all been in the AL East. MLB should not change the rules to accomodate a situation that could easily change. The Rays might never have another run of player development that enables them to have this kind of sustained success. Money has not always bought the Yanks and Sox success (just ask the Mets and Cubs). So to change the playoff structure to accomodate a three year span is really reactionary.