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A Proposition for a New MLB Postseason

The baseball season is constantly and consistently referred to as a marathon, not a sprint. A winning team is not defined by one great starting pitcher pitching his team to three victories in five days, nor a second baseman getting on base 12 times in 18 at bats. A deep bench and/or pitching staff is just as, if not more, important than your best players. You can throw Justin Verlander out there every five days but he is still not pitching for you in 80% of your games. You need depth and you need to see peeks and valleys to level out in order to determine who and which team is the best. There's a reason batting titles have a minimum PA requirement. It's so Jimmy Walnut can't win it for going 3 for 3 in his one game of the year. It's demanded that teams and players spend half a year accumulating wins in order to see who deserves to fight for the title of world's best.

Currently, the playoffs reward hot streaks and penalize slumps. To say it's unfair is an understatement. It's not baseball. It's not what baseball is all about. There is no grind in the playoffs. It's just a fight to the top of the mountain. Why would baseball spend nine months playing one game and then three weeks playing a different one. In the playoffs there are no fourth or fifth starters.

In order to make the MLB postseason less of a crap shoot, it should be viewed in the same way as the regular season; a marathon, not a sprint.

In 1923 the New York Yankees' record was 98-54. This means they played 152 games. The only playoffs back then was the World Series which was, and to this day remains, a 7 game series. The team with the best record from the American League took on the team with the best record from the National League. It only took the Yankees 6 games to dispose of the New York Giants bringing the total games played to 158 (of 159 possible). Today, the regular season is 162 games. With the Divisional Series, Championship Series and World Series, it's possible that a full season could be 181 games. That's just under half of the calendar year that there is a baseball game.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining that there is too much baseball because I love watching baseball. In fact, I'm doing it now as I write this. I'm complaining about the difference between the regular and post season. In case you don't know, the Florida Marlins have yet to win the NL East division but they have won the World Series (1997, 2003). Huh? Imagine a presidential election where a nominee didn't win a single state but still won the election. It's non representational of itself. 

Anyway, here's my proposal. It's quite radical, so be prepared.

The American and National League will both have 16 teams. That means another two expansion teams; one for each league.  Charlotte, NC and Oklahoma City, OK seem like great places to expand baseball. Salt Lake City, UT or even Las Vegas, NV (or Reno, if Vegas is totally out of the question). Weather isn't an issue with either of these places, there's a team in Arizona, remember? Charlotte (17)*, OKC (31)*, and Vegas (30)* are all larger than Cincy (62), Pittsburgh (59)*, and Tampa (55)*; so people to show up to these games isn't a problem.

With 16 teams in each league, the divisions wouldn't be an even five anymore (not that they are right now). However, the divisions would become moot. Interleague play would no longer be played, except of course, in the World Series. Teams would play a regular season of 150 games. Each team would play the other 10 times. A three game series and a two game series in each team's home park.  Or it could be just two five game series in each park.

After the 150 game season there would be the postseason. And it'd be exactly that. The eight best teams from each league would make the playoffs. They would each play each other team four times. Two in each team's park. This would in turn be a mini-season. After this 24 game postseason, the best team from the American League would face off against the best team from the National League in a nine game World Series. The maximum number of games played in a season would be 177. That's four games less than today's current possible outcome but, I feel, twice as representative of a true outcome as today's system. It's not so much expressing how this shortens the season as much as how it doesn't elongate it.

A playoff system like this would reflect the baseball mantra of how the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Given, that even in marathons, you still want to have enough left in the tank to kick it into high gear on the last leg. Baseball would be good to do as much as it can to do away with fluke winners, and small sample sized champions. Granted, this proposition doesn't answer all the questions (or even ask them), nor fix all the problems (nor attempt to), but I do feel that it's a step in the right direction.

 

*This is all according to wikipedia. I believe the numbers are from just the city and not the entire metro area but here's the site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population

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