Examining the Postseason Formats of the 'Big Three' - A Follow Up

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

About two and a half years ago, I made a post taking a look at each of the MLB, NFL and NBA's postseason formats, discussing what I liked and didn't about each. Given that the MLB (and NBA) have since expanded their playoffs further, I wanted to make a brief follow up.

At the time I wrote the initial post, half of the teams in each conference of the NBA made the playoffs in the given year. This format is the same, with the exception that the 6-10 seeds first participate in a one-game 'play in' tournament, not dissimilar to the old wild card format for MLB, to determine who will advance to the first regular round of the playoffs. As noted in the other post, I'm not much of a fan of the NBA, and one reason why is it seems that their playoff rounds feature less upsets than the other leagues, particularly the MLB. Adding two additional teams to the postseason isn't likely to change that, with the 9 and 10 seeds often likely to be below, if not well below .500. That said, since the early rounds of the NBA rarely mean much anyway, it does at least give fans of the lower ranked teams an opportunity to experience a game or two of playoff action for their team.

Of course, the other change came to the MLB this year with the addition of a third wild card team, which was talked about for a little while and came to fruition with the end of the lockout. In my other post, I discussed ways of adding a wild card slot while still providing a decent boost to the teams with the best record in the regular season, and the new format does provide for this in giving the two best teams in each league a bye in the 'wild card round', similarly to the NFL. I know MLB wanted to push it straight to 14 teams out of 30 making the playoffs, but I hope they don't do that, as anything beyond 12 increases the likelihood of 82-84 win teams making the playoffs, and I think a playoff team should at least have some larger degree of separation from the .500 mark than that.

Lastly, MLB seems to have taken a page from my 2020 suggestion by indeed providing the higher-seeded team in the wild card team with an extra home game, only, in a three game series, this means all the games are played on higher-seeded turf. As with the top-seeded bye, I like this rule as it provides a legitimate bonus for finishing with a higher seed, in a league which features the most upsets of any of the big three.

With about a month to go in the regular season, it will be interesting to see how year one of this new format plays out. Thanks for reading.

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