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April 22, 2011

Expanded Horizons

Eight, Ten, Here We Go Again

by Tommy Bennett

Bud Selig has started up the expanded-playoff mill once again. On Thursday, the Commissioner told the AP that he believes the playoffs will expand from eight teams to 10 beginning in the 2012 season, reigniting what was already a very controversial issue even among the most devoted of baseball fans. At BP, reactions have ranged from pure criticism to mild tolerance. I propose we put to one side, at least for the moment, what the right answer is. Let’s see if we can first agree on a set of common principles on which to evaluate a proposal like this one.

The way Selig’s proposed plan would work, sketchy though the early details are, is pretty straightforward. Each league would get one more wild card team—the non-division-winning team with the second-best overall record. The two wild card teams would then play a series of undetermined length for the right to play in the second round, which for the division winners would be their first playoff series. In other words, the division winners get a bye. (If you’re curious how much the length of the play-in series matters, I recommend this article.)

Let me begin by saying that I’m going to try to take the point of view of a baseball fan. It is certainly true that teams and the league may simply act in such a way as to maximize their revenues, and it’s easy to see why they would. However, unless you think MLB is close to failing as a collective enterprise—and I don’t think there are many folks who believe that—the motivations that teams have to maximize their profits just don’t apply to fans. Fans may be incidentally better off when teams make more money, but that’s a complicated question of price equilibrium best left for the Matt Swartzes of the world.

Start by eliminating all those reasons that don’t apply to baseball fans purely in their capacity as fans of the game. Throw away your team allegiances, where you live, how much money you have, whether you have season tickets, and whether you have the sort of job that affords you the opportunity to watch several ballgames a day. What I’m most interested in isn’t what is best for the game in some abstract sense, but what is best for fans of the game, both present and future. Again, the people willing to pay a cool billion to buy a team may disagree, as is their right.

What’s left? Ah yes, the right answer. I will group my arguments into three broad categories: randomness, scheduling, and prestige.

Randomness

The most common argument against expanding the playoffs is that doing so would make it more likely that a marginal team would win the World Series. This is, statistically and at the margins, pretty uncontroversial, but it has also been true of every expansion of the playoffs in every sport ever. So the question isn’t whether it will raise the possibility that a fringy team—the canonical example being the 2006 Cardinals, who went 83-78 in the regular season, outscoring their opponents by just 19 runs—will win the World Series, it’s whether it does so in such a way that the downside is bigger than the benefit.

But let’s step back a minute. What do we mean when we talk about the best team? The team that had the best regular season record, most likely. But it turns out that performance over 162 games isn’t even enough to say for sure which team is the best. If an entire league with a “true talent” level of .500—that is, one in which God told you all the teams were .500 ballclubs—played a million 162-game seasons, two or three teams would end up with more than 90 wins each time. You’d probably look at those teams and assume they were the best, but we’ve specified that all of the teams were of exactly the same quality. So there’s a real way in which regular season record does a pretty lousy job of telling us which team is the best. Even if we used more advanced techniques like Pythagorean records, there’s still a substantial amount of luck involved in regular season outcomes. That’s an argument to say that the costs of letting in a team like the 2006 Cardinals isn’t so bad. We aren’t sure the Cardinals were lousy or that the Mets—who won 97 games that year—were great. And besides, the Cardinals made the playoffs in 2006 by (how else?) winning their division. 

On the other hand, superior regular season performance does give some indication that one team is better than another. We just can’t be sure.

Scheduling

Another argument frequently advanced against expanding the playoffs is that doing so would make the season too long. Already World Series games have been played in November; adding another series would likely add up to a week of additional games. Given that owners are unlikely to surrender any portion of their lucrative 162-game season, the schedule has to expand into either March or November.

This is another argument that at the margins is correct, at least as far as it goes: more ballgames would get played in cold weather one way or the other. But it’s not at all clear how much colder, other than a couple degrees on average. And even so, what’s the big harm? It’s not like October is an especially warm month in most major-league cities, and that never seemed to ruin the World Series (except for that one time).

Besides, the longer season argument appears to overlook one glaring benefit: a longer season. From a baseball fan’s perspective, it’s a strange argument to make that more baseball is worse.

Prestige

At their roots, I suspect that many of the objections to adding more teams to the playoffs boil down to the fear that it would cheapen the entire process. Fair enough. But from the perspective of the fans, the playoffs are ours to cheapen. If adding more teams makes it more enjoyable for fans as a whole, then who cares if the playoffs are “cheaper”?

Besides, adding another wild card team probably doesn’t do much to decrease the likelihood that a division winner will win the World Series. In fact, it almost certainly makes it less likely that each wild card team will win the World Series. That means two things. One, all adding another wild card team would do is cheapen the wild card. And two, it would increase the prestige of winning the division compared with securing the wild card. As Neil deMause points out, this has at least the marginal effect of making pennant races somewhat more meaningful—and in the big game of one-upmanship that is baseball traditionalism, that could be the trump card.

Related Content:  Fans,  Playoffs,  The Who,  Division Series,  Fan Reactions

48 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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irussma

The funny thing about the Wild Card, as it currently stands, is that the WC winner is almost always a strong team. It's not unheard of for the Wild Card team to have the second-best record in the league, and they almost always seem to have a better record than at least one of the division leaders. This is despite having one of the other playoff teams in the same division.

Given that, it doesn't really make sense to punish the Wild Card (which, again, is almost always a strong team) while rewarding somebody like the 2006 Cardinals who coasted to victory in a weak division. Give the bye to the teams with the best three records, whether they're division winners or not.

Apr 22, 2011 04:27 AM
rating: 6
 
emillion

I agree 100%. Making the 4th and 5th best records play a 1 or 3 game playoff is the only way to make this palatable for me. Unfortunately, they don't think having 82-85 win division winning teams in the playoffs is a problem. They think the traditionalism associated with winning your division is more important.

Because the wild card is often a strong team, they should also fix the seeding so that the top record always plays the 4th record (or winner of the 4/5 matchup). This should give the top record a stronger advantage in the 1st round and would hopefully increase their incentive to keep winning even if they have locked up their division early. It seems like the Division winner cannot play the wild card winner if they inhabit the same division rule was tailor made to ensure that the Yankees will never play the Red Sox until the ALCS.

Apr 22, 2011 10:19 AM
rating: 2
 
ostrowj1

"the Division winner cannot play the wild card winner if they inhabit the same division rule" means that in most cases "the top record always plays the 4th record (or winner of the 4/5 matchup)", right?

Apr 22, 2011 10:52 AM
rating: 1
 
emillion

In 16 wild card seasons, 11 of the 32 wild card teams were the 4th best record. I'm counting 10 of 32 1st round matchups that feature the top record vs. the 3rd best record. ~30% is certainly a non-negligible chance for that to happen. The majority of 1st round matchups are seeded 1v4, 2v3, but almost once every 3-4 seasons per league is 1v3, 2v4 matchups. I personally find that to be too often.

Apr 22, 2011 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
tallsavage

The whole Wild Card concept, since it's inception, has lessened and degraded the idea of winning. Whether baseball, football and hockey and basketball (included here but not truly wild card formats - they just 'take everybody' to the playoffs) it has gone from winning a division of some type to make the playoffs to now 'a you just have to be good enough to get a Wild Card spot' to make the playoffs. The above arguments/logic hold if you buy into/accept the Wild Card notion as being a valid format to determine a league winner.

If the Wild Card format is here to stay and changing the basic tenets of a particular sport is no longer sacred - whether it is number games a season, number of playoff teams, moving teams to different leagues/conferences - why not eliminate the smaller divisions altogether. Create larger divisions/conferences that reward the winners and seed the remaining 'playoff' teams accordingly. This way the '06 Cards make the playoffs as a seeded team and not a conference winner. Schedule headaches aside - the ruling bodies have made other changes work to their benefits why not this one ...

Apr 22, 2011 07:08 AM
rating: 4
 
baserip4

I object because, perhaps unlike the other major sports, playoff baseball is very different from regular season baseball. The regular season is a grind, emphasizing depth and idea that small differences between teams become obvious only over large sample sizes. Now, baseball is further reducing the emphasis on that long season. Between off-days and the short series, those teams constructed to win over the long haul face no special advantages in the playoffs and this will just make it worse.

Apr 22, 2011 07:21 AM
rating: 11
 
xnumberoneson

It depends on how they would structure the postseason. Selig has suggested a one-game playoff between the Wild Card teams. That basically forces them to throw their best pitcher in that game before playing the role of sacrificial lamb to the team with the best record. In this particular case, the addition of another WC team is designed to make it EASIER for division winners by weakening the teams they play in the Division Series. I'm not sure I like that idea either.

Apr 22, 2011 07:37 AM
rating: 1
 
mikebuetow

"That basically forces them to throw their best pitcher in that game ..."

Not necessarily. That would assume the WC teams were able to adjust their schedule so that their best pitcher would be available. If your season comes down to the wire, that's not really feasible.

That said, I don't like the idea of playing 162 games and making the playoffs, then playing one to decide if you get to
STAY in the playoffs. Too random.

Apr 22, 2011 07:41 AM
rating: 5
 
mikebuetow

I'm with baserip4 (above).

I too would take issue with the notion that a longer season is a benefit. If memory serves, by and large the playoff ratings have been dropping over time. I think there IS such a thing as baseball fatigue, and after a month of spring training, 162 regular season games, and two rounds of playoffs, the World Series has, like Michael Scott leaving The Office, segued into the "let's get it over with already" state. What should be the pinnacle event becomes a letdown, an after-thought.

One beauty of baseball is that it still is hard to get into the playoffs. Why dilute that?

Apr 22, 2011 07:38 AM
rating: 6
 
prs130

The NBA playoffs are the perfect example of overexpansion. 6 or 7 teams with a legitimate shot at winning (max), and 16 in the playoffs. regular season games don't matter. The Indiana Pacers finished TWENTY FIVE games behind the Chicago Bulls. So what's the value of a marginal regular season win in the NBA? nil.

I think a good approach would be to take some of the data on marginal win $ value that I've seen on this site, and compare it to other major sports leagues. If the value of a regular season win diminishes beyond a certain point, it affects the quality of regular season games. Anybody who's every watched an NBA regular season game can tell you how that turns out.

Apr 22, 2011 08:00 AM
rating: 3
 
TangoTiger
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

+1 if you believe this statement "Inertia is great!"

Apr 22, 2011 08:02 AM
rating: -5
 
TangoTiger

This was supposed to be an impromptu poll, and you could only vote up (not down). I guess I should have made that clearer.

Apr 22, 2011 09:51 AM
rating: -1
 
TangoTiger
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

+1 if you believe this statement "Inertia stops progress!"

Apr 22, 2011 08:02 AM
rating: -5
 
TangoTiger

This was supposed to be an impromptu poll, and you could only vote up (not down). I guess I should have made that clearer.

Apr 22, 2011 09:51 AM
rating: -1
 
Tommy Bennett

Well I thought it was amusing.

Apr 22, 2011 10:00 AM
rating: 0
 
jonjacoby

What makes the baseball playoffs great was always the simplicty of them. As the number of teams increase the sport gets closer to the NHL, where a hot goalie can lead an 8th seed to Stanley Cup finals; in baseaball the equivlent of the "hot goalie" is the hot starter (or two). The larger the playoffs the more diluted both the regular season and post-season product becomes. By exapnding the palyoffs, Selig is firing shots at the Golden Goose, the more shots he takes, at some point he's going to kill it.

Apr 22, 2011 08:06 AM
rating: 2
 
jerrykenny

Yeah, I agree. I love the hockey playoffs but I also loved baseball's pennant races an simple off-season which were destroyed by the 3-division, wild-card scheme.

When the NHL had 6 teams 4 of them made the playoffs - they actually have a lower percentage of teams making the playoffs now then they did then.

Baseball should not try to imitate other sports.

Apr 22, 2011 12:46 PM
rating: 2
 
conwell

I personally would prefer going back to 2 divisions and a total of 4 teams in the playoffs, but that isn't going to happen. I kind of like this proposal though because it would weaken the wild card and make the division championship mean more. However, the structure will be key here; they need to reduce the number of days off during the postseason. Long breaks between series need to be eliminated and the number of off-days needs to be greatly reduced. 4th starters get few appearances in the post-season and 5th starters are almost unheard of. I'd like to see that change.

Apr 22, 2011 08:19 AM
rating: 10
 
BillJohnson

Count me among the "make the season too long" voices. Two reasons. First, baseball played at the major-league level is hard on the body, and not just for pitchers. There are already problems with players breaking down at the end of the season, or having Verducci-Effect consequences the following year. Extending the season for four teams will make that worse.

Second, watching baseball should be _fun_. Watching it in 29-degree temperatures with a light freezing rain falling, as I did at a White Sox game a couple of years ago, is not fun -- most utterly miserable experience I've had at a ballpark in 50 years of fandom. That game was in April. There will be many more like it in March or November.

Apr 22, 2011 08:30 AM
rating: 8
 
TGisriel

The biggest benefit is making the division title more significant, thereby making teams truly fight for the difference between first and the wild card.

The second benefit is increasing the number of teams in contention.

Both effects make the end of the regular season more interesting.

I don't think it would make the regular season less meaningful. I think it would make it more meaningful.

Apr 22, 2011 08:41 AM
rating: 3
 
drawbb

You know what makes a division title "more significant"? When it's the ONLY way to get into the playoffs and there aren't any wild cards.

Furthermore, if "increasing the number of teams in contention" is such an important goal and makes the end of the regular season "more interesting" and "more meaningful", why stop at 10? Why not expand the playoff field to 12, 14, 16...heck, even 20 teams? More is better, right?

I seem to recall that BP has already demonstrated that this frequently-cited "benefit" (i.e. increased fan interest and attendance) inured itself and dissipated rather quickly. The same thing will happen again and even faster this time...or hasn't anyone else realized what's caused all the empty seats and obscure networks at Division Series games?

Selig, as usual, has a death wish and simply can't wait to take what integrity remains of the sport over the cliff into oblivion with him.

For that matter, I'm a bit disappointed that no one at BP has yet addressed what the real reason for expanded playoffs is: Because TV wants to sell people a postseason with both the Yankees and Red Sox involved EVERY year. Don't kid yourself, that's what this is about no matter what the Puppet Master and his cronies publicly argue otherwise. Just notice the timing of the announcement, now that 2 of the last 3 years saw Tampa Bay prevent what had become a foregone conclusion of October planning.

Apr 22, 2011 09:15 AM
rating: -1
 
edwardarthur

Isn't this the best of both worlds? Even more teams get "hope" than in the present format, yet finishing first again "means something". Given that the odds of winning two series, even as a heavy favorite, will almost never exceed the odds of winning one, even as a substantial underdog, no one's going to rest their regulars when the division's still on the line....

Apr 22, 2011 11:03 AM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

Very well said. 2 WC teams, 1 play-in game. Then proceed as usual. This would be awesome!!!!

Apr 22, 2011 11:34 AM
rating: -1
 
jerrykenny

"You know what makes a division title "more significant"? When it's the ONLY way to get into the playoffs and there aren't any wild cards."

Exactly.

This (like all of Selig's ideas) is stupid, motivated by money and affects the integrity of the sport. The argument about the Cardinals in the article ignores the fact the weak division winners are a product of two other idiotic Selig inventions, the three-division league and inter-league play. Each league could easily be split into two equal divisions with ONLY division winners advancing to the post-season.

It's true that nothing can preclude a weak division winner but it's many less likely than with the three-division setup. The argument given against this is that it wouldn't work with the inter-league play. My response - So #$%!ing what? Inter-league play is a cheap, over-hyped novelty - baseball can live with out it and I would argue the league rivalries were more intense and the All-Star game and World Series more meaningful without it.

Apr 22, 2011 12:41 PM
rating: 3
 
Robotey


I think this expansion sucks and isn't needed.

The ironic thing is that supporters argue that adding a 5th team keeps more teams 'in it'. But that's not the case. With 2 weeks to go there are always a handful of teams 'in it'. And by the final weekend it's 3 teams fighting for two spots - usually with division crown spicing up the mix. How does this system add suspense or drama? It will take the air out of the final weekend.

The extra round WILL mess with the schedule, it cannot be slotted it easily in the same way the NCAA slotted in the play-in games. Isn't the 4 vs. 5 round going to merely replace the 163rd and 162nd games we've enjoyed the last few years?

Take 2007 - Mets vs. Marlins - the Mets collapse--but it's ok because they get the 5th WC slot!

2008 - Mets vs. Marlins - see 2007

Twins vs. Tigers 2009 etc.

There's little to be gained in adding a 5th team -

Apr 22, 2011 13:56 PM
rating: 7
 
warclub

Drawbb is right. As the Yankees get older, MLB wants to sell a post-season that includes NY and BOS. Leave the playoffs alone, remember they play 162 games in the regular season. The teams that get there earn it.

Apr 22, 2011 14:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Ctmnt08

The size of the season is so huge that diluting it even a little is a bad idea. Sure, it adds "hope" to another team, but the example of the '07 and '08 Mets is extremely relevant: under the "new" format, the Mets crumbling down the stretch wouldn't have meant too much, since they would have still made the playoffs.

In an attempt to compare apples to oranges, let's look at pro basketball, a sport I neither enjoy nor watch. One of the reasons I eschew pro basketball is the size of the playoffs: 16 of 30 teams make the postseason! So long as you're remotely close to .500 (slightly below, most years), you're in. What's the point? 10 baseball teams making the playoffs isn't a bad idea, but if it's successful, then further postseason expansion is inevitable, and THAT'S when the real problems of diluting the regular season will begin to rear their ugly heads.

Apr 22, 2011 17:59 PM
rating: 1
 
xnumberoneson

The 2008 Mets would have made the playoffs, but I don't think the 2007 Mets would have. The Padres and Rockies played game 163 that year to determine the wild card winner. Under the proposed scenario, they would have both made the playoffs with the Mets finishing a game out.

Apr 22, 2011 21:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Ctmnt08

Good call, forgot about that. Still, I don't like the proposed new system. I believe the term used by most is "slippery slope."

Apr 22, 2011 22:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Rider11

"Besides, the longer season argument appears to overlook one glaring benefit: a longer season. From a baseball fan’s perspective, it’s a strange argument to make that more baseball is worse."

Amen. Personally, I'd rather not have another wild card, but if it happens, it's going to mean some exciting games and series, and it's not going to ruin the game. I have no idea why some of us are so bent on having the results of the playoffs correspond with regular season records or statistical predictions. Why are we so opposed to the element of surprise or luck? And what is wrong with more baseball?

Apr 22, 2011 22:37 PM
rating: 4
 
craigburley

I fully support the idea of expanding the playoffs, and expansion to ten teams is the best of the options beyond my own somewhat eccentric (but guaranteed massively successful) idea of a wild card tournament.

I prefer having the division races be meaningful, so 10 teams with a wild card playoff is the best option. I think the best argument of all, is the expanded interest in September baseball, and more playoff baseball (and more baseball full stop) being the most fun.

Apr 23, 2011 06:09 AM
rating: 1
 
molnar
(170)

Tommy, I'd like to take exception with the claim that "two or three teams would end up with more than 90 wins each time". After several attempts at parsing this, I concluded that you meant that "each time, two or three teams would end up with more than 90 wins", which is (a) a very different statement (quantifiers matter!) and (b) makes the number one million irrelevant. Is that what you meant? Was there any significance to n=1000000?

Apr 23, 2011 08:14 AM
rating: 0
 
Tommy Bennett

Fair enough. I didn't mean that it would be the same two or three teams. I chose n=1000000 because it is a very large number.

Apr 23, 2011 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
Robotey

All good points, however, if you add 2 more teams and inject them into the last ten years in both leagues scenarios I would bet that you dilute the suspense of the final two weeks--and especially the final weekend--at the cost of dilating the post-season. I would vote no.

The addition is also so small in many cases you're just turning the classic 163rd game into a 'playoff', as in the case of Rockies-Padres. But what if we need a 163rd game just to get to that point?

MLB has yet to have to deal with the nightmare of 3 teams tied after 162 and mucking through the round-robin it would entail, but it has come close. Should that happen, once this 'extra round' has been added, the 7th game of the WS would be on Thanksgiving.

Apr 23, 2011 08:57 AM
rating: 2
 
greenengineer

Adding teams to the playoffs reduces the importance of the regular season, and increases the number of teams resting their regulars as they coast into playoffs.

It also robs us of great pennant races between good teams. As in the NBA and NHL, the end of the season becomes a battle for the last playoff spot, between teams barely over .500.

Give me 1908 NL, 1951 NL, 1967 AL, 1978 AL East, 1993 NL West, etc. Good teams battling to win. Much more entertaining and memorable than the current scheme.

Apr 23, 2011 10:39 AM
rating: 3
 
irussma

To be fair, you've cited five seasons in an 85-year span. Obviously those weren't the only great pennant races, but still. Meanwhile we've had plenty of one-game playoffs and other races that come down to the wire, usually between teams that are well above .500

Apr 23, 2011 15:01 PM
rating: 2
 
R.A.Wagman

I think the extra playoff participant is not really a bad thing, but truly functions to put a bandage on the ongoing mistake of having three so-called geographically based divisions artificially balancing the leagues

Apr 23, 2011 15:44 PM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

This is all about making sure a) they make more money now that the economy is in a semi-permanent funk and b) the aging Yankees continue to make the playoffs.

Apr 23, 2011 16:53 PM
rating: -1
 
edwardarthur

One of two comments that this is about the Yankees, but it's not a logical concern. The Yankees have missed the playoffs once under the current format, so they hardly need the help. Under the new system, they're out in half of their wild-card seasons after a one game (or two-of-three) playoff, so you get _less_ Yankee baseball in October.

Apr 24, 2011 02:06 AM
rating: -1
 
JohnnyB

If they are going to do this, and no doubt they will if there is more revenue to be had, then I'd like to see them do four things:

1. shorten regular season back to 154
2. Add 10-15 day-night doubleheaders (expands rosters accordingly)to further shrink time lines
3. set up a round robin league playoff format to determine champion so that everyone plays everyone and best record goes
4. remove off-days so that the game strategy in playoffs is same as regular season

Apr 24, 2011 04:32 AM
rating: 0
 
irussma

I don't understand how shortening the regular season would add revenue. Ideas 2 and 4 have merit. I don't really understand 3.

Apr 24, 2011 16:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt

Tommy, you have written responses to the arguments against playoff expansion. Are you going to write responses to the arguments for playoff expansion?

As a fan I see much downside to expansion, and I don't see the upside. You could say that expansion will make teams play more competitively in September, but I think there are plenty of ways to debunk this.

Maybe the point is really to make the Yankees/Rays/Red Sox play more competitively in September. But the fact that they didn't in 2010 is a side effect of adding a Wild Card team. Add another Wild Card team, and you just get a different set of teams playing less competitively.

Apr 25, 2011 11:49 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt

As a fan, I hate the idea of a one game playoff or a best of three series deciding anything.

Apr 25, 2011 11:55 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Lots of arguments against the expanded playoffs have to do with the so-called "integrity" of the 162 game season and of previous playoff iterations, whether that refers to the current 8-team format, or the older 4-team system. To test that feeling of baseball history, maybe there should be a control group set up looking at all previous playoff encounters, from 2-team, through 4 and 8 (plus all play-in scenarios) and look at how often the "better team" came away as the victors. How sure are we that *any* playoff format can truly and accurately capture the best team title? Should that even matter?

Apr 25, 2011 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
carlbrownson

A 162-game "playoff" is a pretty big sample size, and I've got to say it sounds, prima facie, like a better test than any combination of 7-game playoff series. We don't want to go back to the days when it all came down to a pennant race for one spot, I'm sure, but for that reason, I've got to lean against any more playoff teams. I wouldn't hate to see it go back to just the NLCS and ALCS, and eliminate the division series.

Somebody mentioned the Indiana Pacers above: they had a 35-47 record this year, and they're in the playoffs. That's just stupid. There's a slippery slope here. Five teams from each league is an odd number, and it will soon enough become six to achieve some symmetry in the bye arrangements. Should 40% of major league ballclubs really be in the postseason?

Apr 25, 2011 20:00 PM
rating: 1
 
Robotey

Good questions - short answer is that's part of the fun of sports. The 'best' team doesn't always go home the champion. Look at NY Giants beating Pats in almost perfect season. No sports fan would argue with that--except those in Boston.

Apr 26, 2011 12:13 PM
rating: 0
 
Isaac Lin

Having a play-in game makes winning the league more desirable, or (assuming the special rule on who the wild card team faces is kept), if the wild card round victor is in the same division as the league leader, the division leader with the second-best record. However, it doesn't make the lives of the other two division winners particularly easier: they both get an extra day to set up their rotation. Since the additional edge is only given to one team anyway, it might be better to drop the divisions and use overall league standings, with the top five teams getting in, and the top team in the league gaining the advantage of facing an opponent who had to jump another hurdle to make the second round.

Apr 25, 2011 20:15 PM
rating: 0
 
Robotey

Forget the 'integrity' of the playoffs issue by adding one team--I don't have a problem with the WC team winning the Series in the current format--and the '5th' team wouldn't dilute that much. All teams are equal come the playoffs--you can't judge by regular season records due to unbalanced talent spread through divisions. Not to mention injuries. So be it. But again, what is to be gained --other than $$--by adding a 5th team? You do NOT add teams in the mix a la the NFL's final weekend which has fun time-zone playoff scenarios unfolding. You are just as likely to deflate the drama of the final weekend as you are to increase it. And for what? Fox? TBS? TNT? ABC Family? Forget it. It's bad enough we've been subjected to Joe Buck announcing the post season for what seems like forever. Bring back Keith Jackson, Al Michaels and Jim Palmer fer cryin out loud.

Apr 26, 2011 12:11 PM
rating: 0
 
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