Everybody knows that the World Series takes place between the NLCS winner and ALCS winner. This is tradition, this works great, and nobody complains. Well, let’s just say I like playing the Devil’s advocate.
I, for one, have always thought that the Fall Classic should be the battle of the two BEST teams in the game, rather than a matchup of the best from each league. As great as it is to see a climactic struggle between the two teams that pounded their respective leagues all season, and have come out on top all the way, wouldn’t it be better to see a World Series more intense and interesting than its preceding Championship Series matchup?
My proposition: The introduction of a new postseason format, changing the paths teams must take to reach the World Series. It would go something like this: The Division and Championship Series’ occur in the same order, resulting in two teams from the AL and two from the NL. Those four teams will play in a double elimination series with the last two teams playing in the World Series for the title of the Best Team in Baseball. This round begins with the two AL teams competing and the two NL teams competing in five game series’. The winners move into the winners’ bracket and the losers move into a losers’ bracket, where the AL loser plays the NL loser, and the AL winner plays the NL winner in two, five game series’. The winner of the Losers’ Series lives on to play the Loser of the Winners’ Series for the right to play the undefeated team in the World Series.
As this idea is bound to curdle the blood of even the least hardy traditionalist, I have come up with a pros and cons list to support my theory.
The cons of this format:
First and foremost, the postseason would be longer. Adding three more series’ would extend the season, despite that fact that the Winners’ and Losers’ Series’ would overlap. My suggestions to fix the situation are to reduce all but the World Series to five games, and start the regular season a week earlier.
Second, we may have to see two teams in the World Series that we already saw play each other in the AL or NL Championship Series. This situation will be unavoidable from time to time, but not problematic as the two best teams make for the best show and the seven game series will make for the use of strategy that was not used in the five game series.
The pro’s of this format:
The best two teams will play each other in the World Series. The fact that this does not happen now is a crucial problem with the Fall Classic. Remember 2004? The Red Sox were down to the Yankees three games to none in the ALCS. They surged back, winning an epic four straight against their rival team. This was quite possibly the greatest postseason series in the history of the game. After this incredible and epic matchup, the Red Sox went on to play the Cardinals in the World Series.
The result? A four game sweep.
Despite this being the curse breaking championship that gave Boston fans some much needed celebration, it paled in comparison to the climactic ALCS. With my postseason format in play, we get to see showdowns like the Red Sox three down comeback in the World Series rather than in the Championship Series. Oh yeah, then there was 2007, where the Sox bested the Cleveland Indians in a nail-biting seven game ALCS, and again swept the World Series, this time defeating the Colorado Rockies.
This is not to say that the World Series is never played between the two best teams, but now we can see rivalries in the Fall Classic whether they are the Red Sox battling it out with the Yankees, or the cross-town series we all want between the Cubs and White Sox.
Pro number two: This method would make for some great victories, and epic comebacks. Picture this; a team loses the Championship Series, then goes on to win the Losers’ Series, and wins their way to a rematch in the World Series.
To me, the pros of this situation clearly outweigh the cons. It is less than likely that a new playoff format will be adopted in the near future, and it is even more doubtful that it will occur as I would like, but regardless, my idea would improve the quality of the MLB postseason dramatically.