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Thoughts on Current Postseason Lineup and Fixing MLB Playoffs

The 2021 MLB Postseason is upon us and the contenders are...less than compelling. Seattle and Toronto failed us at the end, and we wound up with both Boston and New York playing for the chance to take on Tampa Bay in the ALDS. Overall, I do not see a really compelling team to root for this year, but if I had to pick:

Milwaukee

The Brewers are one of six teams to never win a World Series, the others being: Colorado, Seattle, San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Texas. As such they have my sympathy and support. Christian Yellich is a great player, Milwaukee is a fun town (visit the Water Street Brewing Company if you ever make it), and they just won the NBA Championship. Make it an even better sports year for Wisconsin!

Tampa Bay

I say this with bile in my mouth since the owner wants to split time between St. Petersburg and Montreal, which is a terrible idea. But, like Milwaukee, they have never won a World Series. They lost to both Boston and Los Angeles. I can respect that even if their owner is cheap.

St. Louis? San Francisco? Atlanta?

I cannot stomach the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros or Dodgers winning. St. Louis, San Francisco and Atlanta would be at least less awful.

Fixing the Postseason

With all this in mind, the playoffs need correction. The Wild Card is a stain, and the current format feels awkward. Most people support eliminating divisions and moving to a conference format where teams are entirely seeded by their record, along with balanced schedules. I dislike this idea. Baseball does best in my mind with local rivalries, unbalanced schedules, and exciting division races. A conference format simply further cheapens the regular season, which is at the heart of what makes baseball different than football and basketball (and hockey). As such I have a few steps to fixing this problem.

Step 1: Expand Major League Baseball

To properly fix the postseason we need 32 teams. There are several sites to consider, for this exercise I will consider: Montreal, Nashville, Las Vegas and Portland as potential candidate cities. This will help decide the next step.

Step 2: Reorganize the Divisions

With 32 teams Major League Baseball could reorganize itself into eight divisions with four teams each. If Nashville and Portland are chosen, as would be my preference, we wind up with:

AL North: Baltimore, Boston, New York and Toronto

AL Great Lakes: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota

AL Central: Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Texas

AL West: Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

NL East: New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL South: Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, Tampa Bay

NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, St. Louis

NL West: Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

This configuration does require two teams to switch leagues: Colorado and Tampa Bay. However, all of the leagues are quire compact, with natural rivalries. Boston & New York are maintained (and as an added bonus, as we will see later, only one of them makes the playoffs each season), as are: St. Louis & Chicago, Detroit & Cleveland, & LA & San Francisco. Some cool rivalries could flourish here, with Tampa and Miami maybe forming a cross state rivalry. Portland and Seattle as well.

If we get Montreal and Nashville instead I would alternatively suggest:

AL North: Boston, Montreal, New York, Toronto

AL Great Lakes: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota

AL South: Houston, Kansas City, Texas, Pittsburgh

AL West: Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle

NL North: Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Washington

NL South: Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, Tampa Bay

NL Central: Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee

NL West: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

This switch is far less clean, with four teams switching leagues. There are other configurations you could ponder which weaken the consolidated regional nature of the divisions. If you do not expand to at least one team in the South, this exercise becomes quite difficult. If we consider Las Vegas and Portland, for instance, the divisions become far more difficult to construct in my mind.

AL North: Baltimore, Boston, New York, Toronto

AL Great Lakes: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota

AL Central: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas City, Texas

AL West: Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

NL East: New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL Great Lakes: Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee

NL South: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Tampa

NL West: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

In this configuration, I shoved Arizona in with Colorado, KC and Texas, while tossing Houston back into the NL to form a strange NL South, combining it with Atlanta and the two teams in Florida.

There are plenty of options, just need to pick one.

Step Three: Each League has Four Teams

In this scenario: eight teams would make the postseason, the winners of each division. You then rank by record, and start the Division Series with a best of seven games format. This increases the postseason by at least a game (to make up for dropping the Wild Card game). The postseason picture would feature eight division crown races, and each team would be a champion of something.

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