Major League Baseball has problems.
Like, a lot of problems. Right now, it seems like it has more problems than it’s had in a while, thanks to the Houston Astros and their historically clever/evil brand of cheating.
Other issues— pace of play, too many homeruns, a lack of salary cap— are small potatoes compared to what Houston has done and been accused of doing, but are still things that are driving fans, particularly in my age demographic, away.
One issue that I actually don’t believe is much of an issue, if any at all, is the MLB postseason format.
The current layout is easy to explain. Three division winners from each league, followed by two wildcard teams. That makes 10 of 30 teams in the MLB playoffs, which to me, is a perfect number. Not like the NHL or NBA, where more than half the league makes it. The only change I would make to the playoff format is making the “Wildcard Showdown” three games instead of one.
That’s literally it.
Yet, for whatever reason, baseball is kicking around a playoff idea that is in equal parts confusing and unnecessary.
Let me try to explain this in a way that makes sense.
In this new proposal, each league would have seven teams, not five. The three division winners would stay the same, with two more wildcard teams added to each league.
Here’s where it gets tricky, and in my opinion, dumb.
The teams with the best record in each league would get a bye week into the divisional round. The other two division winners would then choose their wildcard opponent, and the series would be best of three, with all three games taking place in the division winner’s ballpark. The winners of those series would move on to the divisional round, and everything from there would proceed as normal.
Of all of this, the only thing that makes sense is having the wildcard series be three games instead of one. Everything else is, at best, unnecessary, at worst, nauseating.
The part that makes the least sense is the idea of teams picking their opponents for the postseason. I mean, what are we doing?
This is not Rocky III, where Rocky Balboa’s 10 heavyweight title defenses are revealed to be the product of his trainer, Mickey Goldmill, handpicking his opponents. This is Major League Baseball.
Baseball, like all sports and, really, all things in life, has a lot of problems. Maybe if commissioner Rob Manfred would spend more time on the real problems (cheating, disparity between the rich and the poor) and not the fictitious ones (intentional walk pitch limits, the playoff format) the game I love the most would be a little better.