Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Baseball: Please change your outdated and boring playoff system.--Alex

I have never understood something...why does baseball center itself around three-game series' throughout the year then come playoff time bust out the seven game variety. Very puzzling.

Furthermore why the heck do you have a thirty team league only to have eight make the playoffs? Especially when there is hardly any change in the teams participating each year save for the one or two who interchange.

The argument for the current system is parody. To the casual fan this is a good sell. Except for the Red Sox, no team has won the World Series more than once this decade. However, after some number crunching this stat trumps the former. Save for the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Athletics, Cardinals, and Angels, chances are your team did not make the playoffs more than twice in the last decade. In fact seven teams haven't made the playoffs in the last decade and as a Blue Jay fan this research only deepened my depression.

Upon my further research I noticed something even more interesting...what if MLB expanded it's current playoff format to eight teams in each league...similar to the NHL and NBA? Would the imbalance be as extraordinary? No. In a proposed eight-team per league playoff system which we will affectionately call "The Blue Jay System"... (you'll see why...), only two teams: Baltimore and Pittsburgh would not have been playing October baseball somewhere in the last decade, in fact we find that imbalance of teams even qualifying for the playoffs is absolved. In this scenario no less than two thirds of all teams would have seen post-season play fifty percent of the time in the last decade.

This system rewards consistency. "The Blue Jay System" refers to the fact that in this system the Blue Jays go from a mediocre team over the last decade to one of the most consistent playoff qualifiers making the post-season all but one year, and in baseball having a .500 team is nothing to sneeze it over a 162-game schedule. Injuries, road-trips, and the natural streaky nature of baseball take their toll; you should be rewarded and your fans should be rewarded if you are able to win one for every one you loose.

So, now that we have the reason for the playoff format out of the way...lets look at the make-up of the series' themselves.

All season long you have three game series'. Granted doubling your playoff qualifiers would in theory take up and extra week or two BUT what if you made the first series a "Wild Card Weekend" best of three series? Here is the easy format...

You have your basic playoff format typical in the NBA and NHL;


However, in the "Blue Jay System" the home team hosts all three games typical of a three game series. First team to take two of three wins. If an 8 seed can go into a 1 seeds' stadium and take two of three, that is all the proof needed to convince me that they are playoff ready. The baseball season is a marathon and the playoffs a sprint, give teams who are outside the traditional bubble a chance and invigorate new energy in sleeper markets such as Toronto, Kansas City, and Texas.

In a three game weekend tilt; attendance would be high, the excitement of upsets would be March Madness equivalent, and each team gets to load best three pitchers versus your best three pitchers. The results would be true parody and the cream would rise to the top.

After "Wild Card Weekend", revert back to the best of five divisionals and the best of seven LCS and WS. The fans would be happy, the owners would be happy, and every player would relish the chance to be part of a magical weekend, since the MLBPA's dissolving of regular double-hitters baseball has not had one.

Time to give something back to the fans.

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