Last night there was an amazing baseball game played in Minnesota at the soon to be left behind Metrodome.
And while the game was being played I got to thinking about the changes that I would make to the baseball play-off system.
I’ll be honest. Part of changing things would be a selfish hope that the Toronto Blue Jays would have a chance to play in a play-off game for the first time since 1993 when I was 11 years old. The other part though is the fact that last night was one of the most exciting baseball games that I have seen in a long, long time.
I’m going to try to illustrate how my new system would work using this year’s regular season standings.
*excluding yesterday’s extra regular season game in the Central Division between the Twins and Tigers.
2009 American League Standings
(1)New York Yankees W103 L59
(4)Boston Red Sox W95 L67
Tampa Bay Rays W84 L78
Toronto Blue Jays W75 L87
Baltimore Orioles W64 L98
(2) Los Angeles Angels W97 L65
(5)Texas Rangers W87 L75
Seattle Mariners W85 L77
Oakland Athletics W75 L87
(3)Minnesota Twins W86 L76
(6)Detroit Tigers W86 L76
Chicago White Sox W79 L83
Cleveland Indians W65 L97
Kansas City Royals W65 L97
2009 National League Standings
(2)Philadelphia Phillies W93 L69
(6)Florida Marlins W87 L75
Atlanta Braves W86 L76
New York Mets W70 L92
Washington Nationals W59 L103
(1)Los Angeles Dodgers W95 L67
(4)Colorado Rockies W92 L70
(5)San Francisco Giants W88 L74
San Diego Padres W75 L87
Arizona Diamondbacks W70 L92
(3)St. Louis Cardinals W91 L71
Chicago Cubs W83 L78
Milwaukee Brewers W80 L82
Cincinnati Reds W78 L84
Houston Astros W74 L88
Pittsburgh Pirates W62 L99
Under the current system the play-offs break down like this:
Each division winner is an automatic play-off team (seeds 1, 2, 3) and the best 2nd place team is granted a Wild Card entry into the play-offs.
The Wild Card team plays the team with the top record in the league. Unless that team is in the same division as it is this year in both leagues.
Because the Yankees and Red Sox are in the same division the Red Sox will play the Los Angeles Angels who are the #2 seed in the American League. Likewise, the Colorado Rockies will not be playing the Los Angeles Dodgers but instead the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the National League play-offs.
The winners of each of the 2 series in each league will play each other to determine the league champions and then the league champions play each other in the World Series.
I’ve got no problem with that part. It’s worked for a long time. What I want to change is at the start of the play-offs.
In both leagues I have marked a 5th and 6th seed to go along with the first 4 that currently make the play-offs.
In the case of a tie, division winners would still be determined by a one game play-off game. However, if the 2 tied teams would both be play-off teams the division winner would be determined by the head to head record during the regular season.
Once the 6 seeds in each league have been determined and set the play-offs would begin. The play-offs would start two days after the regular season ends with the 5th seeds hosting the 6th seeds in a one game play-in.
The theory here is that Major League Baseball gets to show off a double header of play-off action on national TV. It means that 2 extra teams in the league are guaranteed at least 1 play-off ticket gate per season. It also means that there are at least 2 chances a year for amazingly exciting games that will decide who gets to move on and play and who goes home.
After the 5 vs. 6 play-in game we get to move to play-in round #2. Play-in round #2 would have the 4th seed (the now Wild Card team) host the winner of the play-in game in a best 2 out of 3 play-in series. The #4 seed would play host to game #1 and game #3 if necessary. This gives the winner of the 5 vs. 6 game a chance to collect another play-off gate (or their first if it is the 6th seed) and the fans a chance to see their team in the post season.
After the new Wild Card teams have been decided in each league we get back to a system that is much similar to what Major League Baseball uses now.
*While the play-in series are being played the 3 divisional champions would be enjoying a much deserved break. Much like the NFL where divisional champions don’t play during Wild Card weekend, the MLB would grant their divisional champs the chance to rest and get healthy heading into the play-offs.
Another thing that I would change would be the rule that the Wild Card team can’t play the other team from its division in the Divisional Series. If this year’s Red Sox were to beat the 6th seeded Detroit Tigers they would indeed face the New York Yankees. Play-offs should always have the highest seed against the lowest seed as far as I am concerned, and unless baseball wants to change the way it divides teams into leagues and divisions this is how that would play out.
Just like now the winners of the Divisional Series would face each other for the right to be called League Champions and go on to play for the World Series
I like this idea. I like it a lot. It means that 4 extra big league cities get to root for their teams. It means that teams will feel like they have a chance to make the play-offs through out the season. It means that teams are less likely to try to trade away superstar players and that other teams are more likely to try to acquire such talent to get them in.
And as I mentioned, selfishly, it means that my beloved Blue Jays just may have a chance to get to the Promised Land sooner rather than later.
–Love my idea, hate my idea, think you’ve got a better idea… let me and the rest of the world know. Post your comments, links and criticisms here.