Friday, June 22, 2007


[edit: Reader Travis pointed out something that anyone with half a brain would have noticed, which of course leaves out yours truly, and that is I left out the #3 team. I've gone back through the post and fixed it. Thanks to Travis for having half a brain and pointing out the mistake to those of us who are less fortunate.]

I've long thought that baseball's post season is set up badly, but last year convinced me. The fact that the Cardinals even made the playoffs, let alone won it, cheapens the entire exercise. Its not that I dislike the Cardinals, its just I need the team that wins the World Series to actually earn it, not just benefit from the lucky bounces of a well-timed hot streak in the middle of a sea of mediocrity.

I have a few suggestions. I would reconfigure the entire playoff system using these guiding rules:

1) The team with the better record and thus higher seed deserves more than a single home game reward. They deserve a big home field advantage. Not just four out of seven, but five or six out of even (gasp!) seven games at their home park. There should be a legitimate reward for finishing ahead in the standings, otherwise you devalue the entire 162 game season.

2) Give the top teams "byes" until the later rounds. This makes things easier for TV as well as making life easier for the better teams and harder for the worse teams. It also gives us, the audience, a chance to really focus on an underdog team through the trials and tribulations of the playoffs from start to finish. Should we, you know, want to do that.

I would organize it like this:

1) Five teams from each league would make the playoffs (ranked 1-5, best to worst).

2) Team #4 and Team #5 would play a one game playoff to see who goes on to the next round. The advantage here is this single elimination game likely removes the best pitcher from the winning team, which benefits the better team waiting in the wings for the winner. Plus its exciting.

3) The winner of the 4/5 game plays a seven game series against Team #3. Team #3 would have as many as 5 or 6 games in their home park to give them a large advantage. Over time, this would give teams incentive to spend in order to get these precious home games in the playoffs instead of simply being rewarded by lucking into a spot, like the Cardinals last season.

4) The winner of that series plays a seven game Championship series against #2. Team #2 would receive the same home advantage that Team #3 did in the previous series. If a further advantage was desired, the league could even let Team #2 decide which games it would rather have played at its park beforehand (for instance, Team #2 could say before the series that it wants games 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 played in its home park, or any other combination).

5) The winner of that match up plays Team #2 in a seven game series, with the same advantages and disadvantages described above.

6) The winner plays Team #1 in a Championship Series.

7) The winners of the ALCS and NLCS play a nine game World Series. Elongating the series further helps weed out the better teams, and helps make up for any lost TV time that the better teams didn't receive for finishing first in their leagues.

The goal here is to reward the teams that are successful over the 162 game season while increasing the number of teams that make the playoffs at the same time. If the Cardinals were to make it through a system like this, nobody could say it was cheap.

What do you think?


Travis said...

What about the #3 seed? They just get the honor of being a playoff team but dont actually get to play?

mattymatty said...

When ever I run the simulation, the three seed magically explodes before the playoffs can begin. Not sure what to do about that.

Actually, good catch. Like all my posts, I wrote it and posted it somewhere around 1am. This has its advantages (no wife around, fewer distractions) but it also has its drawbacks (I'm half asleep and sometimes miss things). Good catch, Travis. Thanks, and thanks for reading.