No team plays with the goal of being called second or third best.
They play to be called Champions.
But, that does not exclude the non-champions from being ranked. Nor does it stop some governing body or League Office/Association from crowning a second or third place team.
With the 2010 MLB World Series now in full swing, there will soon be a new World Champion and a disappointed second place team. Those ranks are understood, but to speak for those who are curious, which team would take that imaginary third step on the MLB podium?
Should a team be officially deemed as third overall in the League in the same sense that the loser of the World Series is deemed second?
Is this a wild, taboo idea that should not be considered because it would mean a change to a sport that traditionally does not accept change with open arms?
The FIFA World Cup plays a match to decide a third-place overall team.
The Olympic Committee does the same for their Games that involve a bracket of competing teams.
Typically, such a matchup takes place between the two teams that were most recently eliminated in the round prior to the Final Championship Game.
In the case of Major League Baseball, those teams qualifying and competing for third place would be the teams eliminated from the American and National League Championship Series.
The question I pose here regarding my proposition of a third-place game isn't whether this can be done, because of course it can be done. It wouldn't be any more difficult to organize and broadcast than a one-game playoff similar to a Game 163; a situation that nearly came to fruition this year and one that was necessary the previous two years.
So a one-game playoff for overall third place in the League between the ALCS and NLCS runners-up is feasible.
The question I pose now is should it be done?
The game of professional baseball is slowly changing to the dismay of some and the joy of others. So, will a game that leans on its history and tradition be open minded to such a change during a period when everyone is complaining that it should change?
In the eyes of many, there is nothing terribly groundbreaking or innovative about this concept. But in the eyes of baseball traditionalists, it is revolutionary bordering on blasphemy.
I am not a traditionalist, nor am I looking to change the game for the sake of change.
However, I am open to change that increases intensity and viewership of the game, in this case, the playoff atmosphere and additional bragging rights for teams to take into the following season.
A one-game playoff, in this case for third place, is essentially a Game 7.
Numbers do not lie and numbers state elimination games, especially those involving popular, sizable markets, will generate revenue.
For those who question or doubt the value or magnitude of a third place or bronze playoff game, consider if such a game took place this year.
Who wouldn't be interested in a one-game playoff between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. Two of baseball's biggest markets putting everything on the line for a chance at third.
Of course, neither market would ever settle for third, but if there is something to be won, both teams and both fan-bases would want to win it.
There is no doubt that such a match-up would draw significant interest and revenue.
Think a match-up of this magnitude would be a one-time fluke occurrence?
In 2009, such a game would have taken place between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2008, the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox would have faced off for third place.
All of these teams have expansive fan bases and more than capable markets to support them, including two of the most storied franchises in the MLB in the Red Sox and the Dodgers.
The fact is, more often than not, the teams that make it to the League Championship Series have fan-bases and markets equipped and willing to accommodate a third place one-game playoff.
If this idea were to come to fruition, or even be considered, I believe such a game would prove useful to be played hours prior to the Game 1 of the World Series.
Such an intense playoff may catch viewers and keep them all the way through Game 1 of the World Series.
In a world increasingly driven by ratings, revenues, and rivalries, the concept of a one-game playoff game between the teams eliminated in the American and National League Championship Series will help Major League Baseball earn higher ratings, increase revenue as a result of those ratings, and compete with the other professional sports leagues of North America for consumer interest.