As the World Series is winding down this week I’m reminded that I don’t like the way baseball crowns its champion. Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a fan. Of course, being a Braves fan has undoubtedly contributed to this ilk, but I don’t believe the best team wins every year and I have a playoff system that is better.
(I know this will never happen – but this is October 30th and Braves players are currently apple picking and going to pumpkin patches so it’s just something to read/ponder/debate.)
To me, baseball is a marathon, however, it’s champion is determined in a sprint. It would be one thing to play a 7-game World Series if it were like the old days when both leagues sent their best team and there were no LCS or Division Series. Now we’ve gotten all the way up to 10 teams and any team who is hot or has a couple of solid pitchers can slip their way into a championship. The 2006 Cardinals, who were 83-78, should have never played for a championship, let alone been the champion. The Mets were 14 games ahead of them that year….yet the Cards were able to win a 7 game NLCS, advance to the World Series where they beat a Detroit Tiger team who didn’t even win their division – but still were 12 games better than the Cardinals in the regular season.
You’re a Braves fan – you know about all the great regular seasons only to be deterred by a hot team or a series with a few bad breaks or a team with a dominant arm at the top of their game. 2012 was sickening once again when the Cardinals finished 6 full games behind the Braves over the course of a 162 game season but were able to eliminate them in one do or die game.
Here is what I propose: a MLB playoff that is an extension of the regular season into October.
Play the typical 162 game season – with only one change: play each team an equal number of times…or at least try to. 162 / 29 teams is 5.59 so you’d have to play 5 games against some teams and 6 against others.
Once the 162 game season is complete, take the top 10 teams and form a playoff schedule. 27 games in October – a round robin of 3 game series against every other team.
I’d keep the standings as they were, just drop the 20 teams that didn’t make it. So if you’re in 2nd place and 4 games back at the end of 162, you’ve got the remaining 27 games to make that up. Play it just like the regular season – use all 5 starters, 6 games per week.
If you’re in the top 5 teams at the end of 162, you get 5 home series and 4 away. To increase anticipation of the final series, I’d play #1 vs. #2 assuming they would stay that way. If the championship is decided after 24 or 25 games, just stop the playoffs.
It’s unlikely this proposal would be as exciting as the current format. In fact, I know it wouldn’t. But I do think it would create a true champion.