Before the Texas Rangers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game One of the World Series Friday night, there were talks about whether the playoff format should be changed.
The playoff format talks arose after the Diamondbacks won just 84 games in the regular season, and the Rangers won 90 games in the regular season and still made it to the World Series. The Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Atlanta Braves had 100 or more wins and were eliminated in the division series. The Tampa Bay Rays, who had 99 wins, were also eliminated in the division series round.
“This went a little bit different than last year," TonyClark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said of the playoff upsets on Friday. "We'll see how things continue to manifest themselves moving forward. But I'll say this: At the outset, the interest by the league was a 14-team playoff. Our players were very cautious, both because there may be unintended consequences but, secondly because they wanted to make sure that over the course of 162 [games], there was value still given to the division winners."
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to talk about and evaluate the playoff format but has said that he likes it.
"One of the greatest things about the playoffs in baseball is anybody can win," Manfred told Evan Drellich of The Athletic on Friday. "It's about the competition that takes place in the postseason. I don't think what happened this year is all that out of line with history. Since 1980, only 11% of [100-win] teams have won the World Series. That's how baseball playoffs are and, frankly, how I think they should be."
Manfred added, "It will at least motivate a conversation about whether we have that right. That conversation will take place post the season. Enough has been written and said that we have to think about it and talk about it, but my view is the format served us pretty well. If the die was cast, meaning, 'If I win 100 in the regular season, I'm going to win the World Series,' I don't think that's as interesting as what we've witnessed over the last month."
The elimination of the 100-win teams made people think that the World Series would suck and the playoffs needed to be changed.
The MLBPA has proposed that division winners who play in the wild-card round start the series up 1-0 and a more extended divisional series. I agree with the division winners starting the wild card round-up 1-0. It would be a reward for winning the division and means they would have to win fewer games to advance.
I don’t think that a longer divisional series is a good idea. There could be more games, and there could still be upsets. Making the divisional series longer benefits no one and doesn’t eliminate upsets. In the playoffs, you have to perform no matter how long the series is, and if you don’t perform, you deserve to go home. There is no logical reason to make the divisional series longer.
The MLB shouldn’t make any changes to the playoff format, except maybe the wild card changes the MLBPA proposed. The rest of the playoff format is working the way it should be and is good. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)