Dear MLB – FIX THE PLAYOFFS!
As we gear up for the postseason, something stands out. The postseason format is bad. When two of the best teams in baseball have to play in a one-game playoff, there is an issue. That is exactly what is going to happen this year. The Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals are among the top four teams in the MLB, yet two of them will be forced to play in one crapshoot of a game to determine who gets to move on. The MLB needs to fix this, and it needs to be soon.
It may sound like sour grapes since the Pirates will be playing in a wild-card game for a third consecutive year barring a major collapse from the Cardinals, which is still a possibility. The fact remains, the playoff format does a disservice to the teams who have been unfortunate enough to be in the toughest division in baseball. I know, the opposition would say that the Pirates or Cubs (or possibly Cardinals) had the chance to win the division but failed to do so. That isn’t the point. Don’t two of the best four teams in baseball deserve more than a one-game playoff? The fact is, the Pirates are 6-0 against the Mets and 3-0 against the Dodgers, the probable two other playoff teams. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the Pirates are better than both of those teams.
Major League Baseball shouldn’t make a kneejerk reaction based upon one season, however. This year is a bit of an anomaly. I wouldn’t suggest that they get rid of the importance of winning a division. Pennant races are part of what makes baseball great. Look no further than this year. Chasing the Cardinals for the division crown is exhilarating. Removing the importance of winning a division would take some of the excitement out of late season baseball.
The one-game playoff has led to some of the more fascinating games in baseball. Johnny Cueto dropping the ball as his name echoed throughout PNC Park will be remembered throughout baseball history. Just like, and it pains me to say this, Madison Bumgarner carving through the Pirates lineup on his way to a historic postseason was captivating to fans of the game. These are great moments for the MLB, but it doesn’t make the format correct.
The wild-card game should be switched to a three game series. A one-game playoff doesn’t determine who the better team is. A three game series would give a more accurate depiction. The rest of the format could remain the same, and the team that advances wouldn’t be decided by all the random variables that play into a single game. Major League Baseball has already shown that they aren’t too concerned about when the season ends based upon them moving opening day back a week. There would be some logistics to work out, but this is the best option available.
The wild-card game should decide which team is better. One game doesn’t do that. In order to advance, a team would need two, possibly three, good starting pitchers. Just as it isn’t the Pirates and Cubs fault that they’re in the toughest division in baseball, it isn’t the Mets and Dodgers fault that their divisions are weaker. They should still be rewarded for winning their division, and they would be. There are many problems with the MLB, and this is one of the biggest.
Now let’s talk about determining home field advantage in the World Series…
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