162 games, 6 months regular season baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Increasingly over the years throughout all sports, there has been a call for more playoffs, mostly due to underachieving or unlucky teams missing out on the postseason by mere games despite playing really well. Playoff baseball on the other hand is dramatic, explosive, and a sprint for glory. It is the battle of the best and most consistent teams, the ones who withstood the long and demanding grind. Simply put postseason baseball should be the best vs the best. Sadly I think those times are far gone. Baseball in the last decade went from one wild card berth per league and four playoff spots, to two teams locked in a winner take all playing game with five playoff berths, to the three team, six spot wildcard format we see today. Problem is, in my baseball opinion, this format breeds mediocrity and rewards teams who scraped-by to get in. Team strategy should be built to get through the season and into the playoffs, rather than surviving the season and saving strategy for the playoffs. The downside of having to play a best of three is mitigated by the fact that the playoffs often add off-days between games. This allows teams to pitch their best pitchers anyway, despite having to play more games. The best of five divisional series also rewards this style of team building where you only hope to get hot and get in, rather than conquer the whole of the schedule and endure 162 games of baseball. While supporters of the extra spot claim the spot puts more teams in the mix for the postseason, this did not add the expected strategy to the trade deadline. We saw with this year’s deadline, trade pieces have become more expensive, with teams demanding far too much for players, and many teams avoiding the higher end pieces to conserve prospects, furthering the gap between large and small market teams. Baseball needs a return to the four team per league playoff format to better reward divisional play and teams built to be consistently great. This brings the strategic focus back to the start of the season and focusing on each series played from April to September. It also adds to the drama, where every series should be the sport’s elite teams playing each other. No more waiting for the wildcard teams to finish their play in round, just straight to the point with October baseball.
Submitted by Jackson Westfall