Maybe some of you are NBA fans, maybe some of you aren’t. But new commissioner Adam Silver did something very interesting that may make divisions, well, obsolete. The NBA playoffs will be seeded based on actual record, not just for winning the divison. Progress that makes sense. You shouldn’t be rewarded for basically being the best of a bad bunch
In baseball, you have to win your division to make the playoffs and then there are two wild cards. This year, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs are the Wild Card teams. But should they be? Should they be playing in that game? The Cubs and the Pirates have better records than the Mets and Dodgers who won their divisions. If records count for something, shouldn’t they have to be playing in the Wild Card game? Or maybe instead of calling it a Wild Card game, re-brand it into a play-in game or something like that.
Before 1969, there were no divisions. Just the top team made the World Series in each league. Maybe they should go back to that. Top five records make the playoffs. Everyone plays each other in their league the same amount and then you have interleague.
22 games of interleague play. You play each team in your league 10 times and two other teams 11. That gets you 162.
Let’s take a look at some cases where the a second place team or even third place team gets the shaft in seeding because they didn’t win the division.
2013 was the first time there were multiple Wild Cards. Three teams in the NL Central finished with over 90 wins (something that is happening again this year). The Pittsburgh Pirates finished with 94 wins, but they were second to the Cardinals. The LA Dodgers won 92 games. No other team in the NL West finished above .500. Yet because the Pirates didn’t win the division, they had to play in the Wild Card game.
In the same season, the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers had to play each other in the Wild Card game. Each had 93 wins. The Detroit Tigers took the AL Central, but only won 88 games. Second place in the Central that year was 84 wins. Why should the Rangers or Orioles have to be put in that situation of a play-in game when they had FIVE more wins than another team because they won the division.
In 2009, the Boston Red Sox made the playoffs as the Wild Card with 95 wins. The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central with 87. If the New York Yankees hadn’t been the one seed, Boston would’ve had to play them because of the division rule that MLB has since rid themselves of. If a team finishes with a better record, they should not be penalized because they didn’t do as well in the divisional standings.
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals won their division with 83 wins. They went on to win the World Series. The Philadelphia Phillies won 85 games that year. They didn’t even make the playoffs. That’s right. A team with two more wins then the World Series Champs didn’t even get to make the playoffs. Maybe they would have won?
To me, MLB should do one of two things. If they want to keep three divisions in each league, then the playoff seeds should be based on record, just like in the NBA. Call it a play-in game as I previously mentioned. Just because you win the division, it shouldn’t keep you from the do or die game.
MLB could also do this (but they never will). One division per league. Top five make the playoffs. Four vs Five in the do or die game. It’ll be hard to sell tickets if you’re the team in 13th place as opposed to 4th in your division.
If you want to crown a true champion, things like divisions shouldn’t impact seeding. What you do between the lines during the regular season should. You shouldn’t have to be penalized because you finished second in a harder division.