A friend of mine, who is not a big fan of baseball, turned to me the other day and asked me " Why can't two teams from the same division play in the first round of the playoffs?" I've been a baseball fan my whole life, but I couldn't give an explanation. I knew that two teams from the same division couldn't play in the first round but did not know why. Either way it got me thinking. What if two teams from the same division could play in the first round? Would some of the 7 game series we've seen in recent years have been as dramatic had they been in the first round?The best rivalry in all of baseball and maybe in all of sports is the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. These two teams have given us some of the best ALCS ever filled with drama, intensity and fun to watch baseball. Aaron Boone hit a home run in the upper deck of the old Yankee Stadium in the 2003 ALCS to send the Yankees to the World Series and once again crush the hearts of Red Sox nation. Would that home run have been as dramatic in game 5 of the ALDS? Would Boone still be immortalized as " Aaron *@^% Boone" to Red Sox fans? Probably. But a walk-off in game 5 of the division series is not the same as a walk-off in game 7 of the LCS. In 2004 the Red Sox finally got their revenge. When they were all but eliminated from the postseason facing a sweep and heartbreak at the hands of the Yankees once again, they pulled off the impossible. The Red Sox came storming back from down 3-0 to win 4 straight and for once crush the Yankees dream at a world series berth. We all remember how it happened. A steal of second base by Dave Roberts. Back to Back walk-off hits from David Ortiz culminated by a Grand Slam in game 7 from Johnny Damon. I know that anytime the Yankees and Red Sox play there's always excitement and drama no matter if it's the playoffs or spring training. But I can't imagine a 5 game divisional series match up being as intense as a 7 game series with the world series on the line. Let's evaluate a lesser rivalry. In 2004 and 2005 the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals battled in two action packed drama filled NLCS with the two teams winning a World Series berth each. The 2004 NLCS marked the first time that two teams from the NL Central met with a spot in the World Series on the line. A series which saw Carlos Beltran light it up with 7 Home Runs in a 7 game series and saw Albert Pujols win the series M.V.P.. The next season the Astros beat the Cardinals in 6 games and advanced to the World Series only to lose just as the Cardinals did the year prior. Roy Oswalt was the M.V. P. No matter what team you root for and what team you hate. Having those two teams play in the LCS is by far more dramatic, exciting, gut- wrenching and much more fun than it would be if they played in the division series.
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