Guest Post: Sounding Off On the New Playoff System
by Gaurav Garg
When MLB announced the Astros would be moving to the AL West starting with the 2013 season, it was also announced that the playoffs were going to be expanded, with an extra wild card being added to the fold. What was unclear was whether the extra wild card would be added for the 2012 season, or the 2013 season. This past weekend, MLB answered the question, and said it will take effect this year.
What follows is the craziest, wackiest, dumbest, most messed-up thing I’ve ever seen, and that includes the lack of a playoff in Division 1-A college football. For starters, this is how the format is going to work: The 3 division winners will make the playoffs like usual, and the 2 best non-division winners will be in as wild cards. The 2 wild cards will play each other in a winner-take-all game, and then the playoffs will go on like normal.
Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, even if I disagree with the way the extra playoff spot is being added, but in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, Bud Selig decided these extra wild cards could be crammed in. Jayson Stark of ESPN lays out the post-season calendar here perfectly.
As you can see, Bud Selig better send up a prayer every day from now until the end of the LCSs to the weather gods that Mother Nature doesn’t wreack havoc in October. There is only 1 day for tiebreakers and weather make-ups before the wild cards play. With not only an extra team making the playoffs, but ties for the division championship being settled on the field as well, there is a much greater chance that we are going to have tiebreaker games.
The worst part about this whole thing, is that the teams with the LOWER seed will get the first 2 home games in the LDS series. The higher seed still gets home-field advantage, but they are only guaranteed 1 home game. It’s supposed to be the other way around, where the lower seeded team only gets one home game if there is a sweep. But thanks to good ole Bud, the team higher seeded team will have to play the first 2 games on the road before they get to go home.
While MLB has now given more teams a chance to get into the playoffs, they should have changed the playoff seeding. With 5 teams making the playoffs, it should be the 5 best records, regardless of division, with the 2 worst records playing the wild-card round. A 99-win team from a strong division that finishes second would be forced to burn their ace in a wild-card game, while an 85-win team that wins a weak division gets to line up their pitching.
This was a good idea, but MLB really screwed up here. They should have waited until the 2013 season to do this, as both leagues would have 15 teams, and they have a full year to plan for and implement this plan. Mark this down as another royal blunder during the 20+ year rule of Bud Selig.