Ferkovich: Just don’t call them ‘playoffs’: the 1969 League Championship Series

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at The National Pastime Museum on March 21, 2018:

Major League Baseball has historically been an industry slow to evolve. Change is viewed with suspicion, as if the business were loath to offend the traditional sensibilities of its fan base. In 1969, however, the sport made a long-overdue change for the better to its postseason landscape.

It came about more or less by necessity, spurred by the upcoming inaugural seasons of the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots in the American League, and the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos in the senior circuit. This was the third round of expansion, the first having come in 1961 with the American League’s new Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators (the latter replacing the first iteration of the Senators, who had bolted to Minnesota to become the Twins that year). The second round came in 1962, when the National League created the New York Mets and Houston Astros. When the dust settled, each league would total 12 teams.

That posed a structural problem. Since the leagues had no divisions, they each faced the prospect of one winner at season’s end, followed by 11 losers. Just imagine, only two Major League teams playing postseason baseball, while 22 were sent packing! What kind of business model was that? A tipping point had been reached. For the first time in their history, the American and National leagues decided to form divisions. From a competitive and economic standpoint, it only made sense.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/just-dont-call-them-playoffs-1969-league-championship-series

Originally published: March 21, 2018. Last Updated: March 21, 2018.