Bevis: 50 years ago, baseball (finally) adopts playoffs

From SABR member Charlie Bevis at WordPress on January 7, 2019:

Baseball was the last major league in the four American professional team sports to abandon the best-record format to determine its league champion, when it adopted a split-league format in 1969.

It took another quarter-century before major-league baseball instituted a playoff format, waiting until 1995 to convert from split-league to such a structure. Don’t call it the baseball playoffs, though. Major-league baseball has religiously adhered to the phrase “post-season,” having banished “playoffs” as a taboo term in its baseball lexicon.

Ironically, major-league baseball received no push by minor-league baseball, the originator of the playoff concept back in 1933, to expand beyond the split-league format. That’s because the Shaughnessy playoffs, which had once rapidly replaced the split-season approach in the minors, were replaced in the 1950s and ’60s by the presumed-dead split-season format. Because the nature of major-minor relationships had evolved into a total focus on developing ballplayers in the minors (thus de-emphasizing the pursuit of league championships), the Shaughnessy playoffs were no longer relevant and the split-season format became the best method to attract spectators to the games.

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Originally published: January 7, 2019. Last Updated: January 7, 2019.