Ultimate Playoff Format

Yes I was happy to see the Small Bears flame out, but the Cubs-Dodgers exposed what a travesty the current playoff format is.  The Dodgers played like absolute crap for five months, they got into the playoffs because they managed (barely) to finish north of 500, and now they have a shot at a pennant because they put together a run of three good games.  Remember when teams actually had to be great to win a pennant?

Baseball should establish a system that 1) creates exciting finishes, and 2) doesn't devalue the regular system.  The current system achieves #1 to an extent - watching the Brewers, Mets, and Dbacks slump to the finish line is more pathetic than exciting.  And it completely fails on point #2.  25% of National League teams should not make the playoffs, and teams that win 52% of their games like the Dodgers (and '06 Cardinals) should be seen for what they are: mediocrities in need of improvement.  Baseball is going to turn into the NBA if real meaning isn't added to the regular season and soon.

So how to improve the situation?

* Two divisions with eight teams each:  the Cubs, Cards, and Astros go with the Western division teams; the Brewers, Pirates and Reds go to the East.

* Division winners and one wild card go to the playoffs

* Team with top record (regular-season league champion) goes straight to the NLCS with home field advantage, as in the NFL.

* The other division winner plays the wild card and hosts all seven games.

The merits of this system are as follows:

  1. There would still be hope well into September for a large number of teams as is the case now
  2. The chance that a team with <85 wins could sneak in would be lower
  3. First place teams would almost never coast into October because seeding would be tremendously important
  4. An excellent 162-game campaign like the '08 Cubs had could not be upended by an unworthy team like the Dodgers.

Yes the Dodgers won fair and square, but this is baseball.  Great teams lose 40% of the time.

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