The beautiful and talented Kelly Nash pointed out something on today’s episode of Quick Pitch that made me question something about MLB that I have felt needed change for quite some time now. One of the stars of MLB Network was discussing the hot streak the Tampa Bay Rays are currently on, and while they have an impressive 84-66 record entering play on September 20, the Rays are on the outside looking in when it comes to the upcoming MLB Postseason. That is partly due to the fact that they play in the American League East behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, because if things were different, the Rays could actually be in first place in three divisions, as the standings currently sit.
That leads me to my question. Is it time for MLB to change its division format in each league, to ensure that strong teams are not getting left out of the playoffs based more so on their geographical alignment?
With three divisions in each league, the three winners all qualify for the postseason, with the next two best teams in each league facing off in a one-game Wild Card game. That means that while 10 teams qualify for the MLB Postseason, that does not guarantee that they are the 10 teams with the best records.
If we were to look at the playoff picture right now in each league, based solely on record, the Rays would be tied for the fifth and final spot in the A.L., with the Central-leading Cleveland Indians. Yet, while Cleveland has already clinched its division, Tampa will be watching the playoffs from, despite playing as impressive baseball as any team in the league over the past couple of months.
I know that it happens in all leagues all the time. But that does not make it right.
What if MLB went back to an East and a West division in each league, going from three divisions down to two? Or, what if it really turned back the clock and strictly had two leagues, with the best teams from each advancing? I am not saying that we go back to two teams only entering the playoffs, with each league winners only clinching the pennant and heading right to the World Series. I am not in favor of that at all.
In fact, I believe that MLB should actually add one more spot in the postseason from each league. My format change would be as follows:
Each league has no divisions, with 30 teams each. They all play a balanced schedule. Oh, and Interleague is now a thing of the past. MLB had something special when the teams in the World Series were meeting for the first time all season. It was more special. The top two teams in each league qualify to host the divisional series. But, after that, the next four teams enter as Wild Card teams, with seeds number three and four hosting five and six in a best-of-three Wild Card format. Those two teams advance to play the top two seeds in the next round, with the winners moving on to the ALCS and NLCS. Those winners then face off in the World Series.
My format makes it more fair, more balanced and more competitive. It adds an additional playoff team in each league, which gives more fans hope, while eliminating the one-game Wild Card matchup. I believe that it would be a win-win-win for everyone involved – players, owners and fans.
Isn’t that what MLB wants?