Originally posted at k-bro's baseball blog
You may have heard that MLB has changed the playoff scheme starting with this season by adding an additional Wild Card team to each league. Some people like it; some people hate it. I really don't have an opinion of it yet, because, honestly, I don't really understand it. I've read a lot of stuff about it, and it all makes my head hurt. I figured I'd map it out on some spreadsheets to see if that helps.
Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be afraid of spreadsheets. I am. But if they have some pretty colors on them, they're not so bad.
Ok, so lets take the standings from the 2010 season and pretend that 2012 will be exactly the same (I chose 2010 because, as a Twins fan, I'm going to delusionally believe that 2011 didn't exist). Here they are:
The Rays, Phillies, Twins, Reds, Rangers, and Giants all won their divisions and the Yankees and the Braves won the Wild Card spots (with the Yankees settling for the Wild Card just so they could play the Twins -- they even admitted it).
Ok, so for 2012, there will be two Wild Card teams for each league, and they'll have a one-game play-in for the Divisional Series. Here's how that would look:
So the four Wild Card teams will battle on October 5th to get into the playoffs: the Yankees versus the Red Sox (which will probably last 5 and a half hours), and the Braves and the Padres (which would actually be the more interesting game to watch, but, of course, not the one that will be televised during prime time).
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Yankees and the Braves win the games (sorry Padres) and move on to the LDS. Now the team with the best league record will play the Wild Card winner and the other two division winners will play each other.
In the past, the team with the best league record would face the Wild Card team, unless those teams were from the same division. In that case, they play the division leader with the worse record.
Now, they're doing away with all that. No more regard to who's in what division. Straight up, the first seeded team plays the Wild Card, and the second and third seeded teams play each other.
Well, that would turn out a little different, huh?
There's also discussion about where and when the LDS games will be played with regard to which team gets home games blah blah -- 2012 will be different than 2013 and beyond merely because the schedule was already set when they figured all this out. Honestly, though, I'm not really concerned about any of that because I'll be sitting on my recliner in front of the TV watching the games -- it doesn't really matter to me which park they're in.
So, is this better? I get it now.
As for my opinion, I'm not a big fan of a one-game play-in. Way too stressful for fans of those teams and it really messes with the pitching alignments, giving an (unfair, in my opinion) advantage to the league leaders. Also, things will get really mucked up if divisions end in ties; there'll be more one-game play-ins just to get to the one-game play-in. But, there should be more motivation for winning and less intentional tanking towards the end of the season and settling for Wild Card berths, and that's kind of appealing. And, of course, it's just more baseball, which is never a bad thing.
I see both sides of the argument. I guess I'll just roll with it.