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Pros and Cons: MLB Expanded Postseason

MLB has announced that it has expanded its postseason format. It’s time for some Pros and Cons!

On Thursday afternoon, literally hours before the season’s opening game between the New York Yankees and the defending champion Washington Nationals, MLB and the Players Association announced an agreement to expand the postseason format for the 2020 season. 

To summarize:

  • The number of teams increases from 10 to 16 (8 in each league).
    • Each division winner qualifies and will be a #1-3 seed in their respective league, determined by record.
    • Each division runner-up qualifies and will be a #4-6 seed in their respective league, also determined by record.
    • The two remaining teams with the highest record will be seeds #7 and 8 in their respective league.
  • The first round will feature a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seeded team done with a standard 8-team bracket (#1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, etc.) for each league.
  • The best-of-five division series, best-of-seven league championship series, and best-of-seven World Series will follow as usual. 

This decision makes a lot of sense given that the general consensus is that 60 games is not enough to determine the best teams for postseason eligibility. Expanding the postseason would allow for nearly every contender to make it, but would potentially allow some pretenders in the field as well. Let’s get to the Pros and Cons. 

Pro: More Baseball!

If you love the game as much as I do, this spring had to be tough without baseball coming with the warmer weather. Baseball would’ve been a joy to watch during quarantine. Instead, we had to resort to watching The Office for the eleventh time, but I digress. The maximum number of possible postseason games jumps from 43 to 65. At this point, I look at more baseball as a good thing!

Con: A Diluted (Playoff) Field

For many years, baseball did it right. They had no divisions and had teams in each league square off against each other all season. The team with the highest record won the league’s pennant and the right to play in the World Series, for the honor of being baseball’s champion for that season. As more teams were added, the playoffs expanded along with it. Now with over 50% of the teams in the postseason, it will possibly include teams with losing records. This is similar to the NBA’s postseason format.  

Pro: More Young Guns in the Show

With more teams all of a sudden in contention than ever before, it’ll make it more likely for teams to call up their prospects with the hope that they can help put their team over the hump. We’ve seen several teams put (or will put) prospects on their roster that likely wouldn’t be there in a normal season. This can allow fans to watch the young prospects they’re excited about. It gives teams a chance to look at their prospects in actual game situations. It gets those prospects closer to a bigger payday by starting their service clock. A win for everyone!

Con: It Might Not Happen at All

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everybody’s life in some way. While we’ve found this window to play games safely, it only takes one bad outbreak to derail it all. MLB and its players and staff have done a good job with regularly testing players and establishing safety protocols, though some teams have already had to deal with star players testing positive for COVID-19. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t become a bigger problem.

There’s a couple pros and cons regarding the new format, but here are a couple other points that could be pros and/or cons depending on your opinion:

Pro/Con: It Could Change the Wild Card Round Forever

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned on the Opening Night broadcast, that the hope is to play the first round in the same amount of time as the Wild Card rounds. This could open the possibility of the round being changed to a three-game series rather than a single elimination game in future seasons. While the Wild Card Game feels in a lot of ways like a Game-7, many fans think a single game is just not enough for a team that scratched and clawed its way into the field to begin with. Most would welcome this change, but some might not.

Pro/Con: It May Not Actually Be Just This Season

This will be a unusual format for an unusual season. However, it’s highly possible, especially if it goes over well, that it could become the new format permanently. Money is usually always the big factor in decisions and this would be no different. While it makes all the sense in the world this season to recuperate lost revenue, the potential for more revenue in future seasons could lead to it. 

Conclusion

I’m all for it!… but for just this season only. 60 games are going to go by super quick. October will be here before we know it. We lost four months of the season. I’ll take in all the baseball I can! Hopefully next year, we will return to our regular length season. If so, I believe the playoff format should revert back to the way it was. I would be open to changing the Wild Card round to three games, however.

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Let me know!

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