The New Major League Baseball Playoff System: Losing the Meaning of the Season

James DuganContributor IMarch 3, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  Outfielder Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers stands in the outfield next to the board displaying '2011 Al West Division Champions' while taking on the Tampa Bay Rays during Game One of the American League Division Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 30, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Major League Baseball needs to shake things up. With record attendance and sales, the best thing to do is to try to change a system that is finally working. Instead of being a leader in the world of sports in trying to retain the integrity of a six-month grueling season, the league has decided to try a new playoff format that rewards mediocrity and late season streaks.

I think the whole ideas stinks and here is why:

First  Inning:  Another Day Off

The winners of the division usually have to sit around for two or three series prior to the start of the playoffs. The batting goes down, and the pitchers lose their rotation. The bullpen is less used when new players are called up. Having another day off for a fourth and fifth team to battle for a spot will just hurt the teams that excelled during the year.


Second Inning: Losing the Season’s Meaning

The NHL and NBA are the prime examples for making a mockery of the season when half of its teams make the playoffs. Teams should not be rewarded for being average. Baseball always considered its season as the ultimate quest for winning. You were supposed to win the pennant and games in April are as important to success as September’s.

This format is following the ridiculousness of playoffs that are half as long seasons. You cannot even compare to the NFL because they are all one game playoffs.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  A general view during player the national anthem before Game One of the American League Division Series between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 30, 2011 in Arlington, Te
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Third inning: Division Games are Important Already (But What About the Other Games?)

We will soon having managers saving their best pitchers for divisional games and using the 4 5 6 for all other games. This is what I would do if you make the whole basis of success the playoff system.

We are already playing each division team 18 times. I think that is good, but if you do not make wins and losses the most important element of success, what is even the point of playing the other games. Home field advantage for one game? Maybe if you were able to play all the playoff games at home.


Fourth Inning: Two Away and Three Home

Many readers missed this crucial change in the playoff realignment. The division winner will actually start on the road and could be two down just because they won their division. Wild-card teams are often on hot streaks and two more games in front of the home crowd after winning the super wild card game cannot be good for the opposition.

Remember, the winner is the top seed with the best record, and they have probably been sitting on the thumbs since mid-September.


Fifth Inning: Hurting the Wild Card or Giving It More of a Chance?

Instead of downplaying the influence of a wild card, MLB has actually increased its chances of winning the series by adding another two teams. There is now a 40 percent chance of a wild card winning the World Series.

If you were not able to win your division, you should not be able to win the title, unless they change the name to the Hottest Team at the End of the Year Trophy. This format actually increases the Wild Card team’s meaningful at bats when they should be taking meaningless golf swings.

What I Would Have Done:

Sixth Inning: No Wild Card

I would get rid of the whole wild card. I love the baseball season and the long journey starting with the first sprouts of spring ending with the last leaves of autumn. There should be no mercy for second. This is game and not life.

You play each game for just a chance at October. October is the most precious gift that most baseball fans see a handful of times in their lives. October baseball is for winners; keep it that way. The wild card is for wussies.


Seventh Inning: Get Rid of the DH for the Playoffs

One way to fix the playoff system is to get rid of the DH. I understand its importance to the American League, but it gives a huge advantage because it changes the nature of the National League game. It also increases the amount of pitches and lengthens the game.

For the playoffs, we need to make it fair and having a huge distinction that changes the very nature of play must end.  It would have been brave if the commissioner had the guts to do that.


Eighth Inning:  Two Lowest Teams Play a Playoff Game

My format is that all six division winners from both leagues go into a bracket format. The four teams with the worst records overall will play each other in one-game format. The third seed will play sixth seed and the fourth seed will play the fifth seed.

The winners will move on without champagne and play the next day. You get all the excitement and ratings for a one-day Wild Card Sunday without seeing a really bad team.


Ninth Inning: Realign After for Two Seven-Game Series 2/3/2.

When there are four, the best records will be realigned for the seven-game playoff system. The higher seed will have two at home, three on the road, and two back at home. Again, this rewards the team with the best success in the season.

The total games in the playoff will be 15. Even with two off games each series and the wild card game, the year will be done by October 20th. We might be able to lose those horrible caps with the ear flaps.