An Idea to Fix the Fall Classic

From SABR member Austin Gisriel at on September 22, 2011:

Baseball’s post-season starts in mere days, which means that so will the discussion concerning the waning interest in baseball’s post-season. Bud Selig’s answer is to give the public more of what it already finds dull. Adding a best two out of three wild-card round is most definitely déjà vu all over again. We do not need another playoff series, unless the Baseball Powers That Be think that the 7th game of the World Series would be more widely watched if it immediately followed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

A second solution that has been proposed is to make the two wild-card teams engage in a single play-in game, the thinking being that such a dramatic contest would boost television ratings. There was genuine excitement when the Twins played the Tigers in 2009 for the right to enter the post-season fray. It was not, however, just because the game was a win or go home contest. A great deal of the excitement came from the fact that the outcome of that game determined the setup of the next day’s games. In other words, today determined tomorrow.

If Major League Baseball wants to truly embrace this kind of post-season excitement, then it should forget a one-game play-in and put its arms around a World Series tournament à la the College World Series. Create two 15-team leagues, and the top five teams will play in their league’s respective tournaments. Make it a triple elimination and give the pennant winners a bye until the other teams have already played two games each and then continually give the champs the most favorable matchup based on tournament record or seeding. This will restore some value to actually winning the league championship, not the least of which would be having two extra days in which to align one’s pitching staff.

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Originally published: October 10, 2011. Last Updated: October 10, 2011.