Major League Baseball is concerned about appealing to younger fans. Perhaps with that in mind, it proposed some changes absolutely no one asked for to the playoff system. You might remember the current system has ten teams making it to the playoffs — five teams from each league. There are three division winners and two wild card teams — teams that have the best records in the league not-counting division winners. The two wild card teams play in a one-game elimination game. In the next round — the Division Series — the wild card winner takes on the top seed while the second and third seeded division winners play each other in a best of five. The winners from the Division Series face each other in the penultimate round — the Championship Series — in a best of seven-game series. The winner of that series is crowned the pennant winner and plays the pennant winner from the other league in the World Series.
The playoffs have evolved over the years to build this system. When the World Series was first played there was no playoff system at all — the top teams in the regular season from each league faced each other in the World Series. With more teams and an greater emphasis on division play, it made sense to expand the format. The addition of the second wild card, while intentionally met with derision, has been embraced for the freshness and excitement it brought. That success might be why MLB thought changing the playoffs would be a good way to achieve its goals. Finally, here are the changes it has proposed, per the New York Post:
...the team with the best record in each league would receive a bye to avoid the wild-card round and go directly to the Division Series. The two other division winners and the wild card with the next-best record would each host all three games in a best-of-three wild-card round. So the bottom three wild cards would have no first-round home games.
The division winner with the second-best record in a league would then get the first pick of its opponent from those lower three wild cards, then the other division winner would pick, leaving the last two wild cards to play each other.
A few players have spoken up against the proposal and from what I can tell, it is not a wildly popular idea among fans. What do you think about the proposed changes to the playoff format?
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