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Playoff Format - What Could Change, and What Would You Change?

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Well, I was excited for a fraction of a second when I saw an article on MLB's website about possible changes in playoff structure. I was hoping for one of two things: that somehow the league has realized that nine-thirty in the morning is not an acceptable time for a game that represents the culmination of a one hundred and sixty-two game season; that they are doing a disservice to the fans who have had a hard enough time following their low-budget, minimally-broadcast team from coast to coast anyway, and should at least be rewarded when said team is one of only eight left. Either that, or they were going to change the format of the ALDS from five games to seven.

However the article is clear on one point:

DuPuy said there was no discussion about extending the first round to a best-of-seven format.

"That is not under consideration," DuPuy said.

Until last year, this was a major complaint of mine, and it probably wasn't coincidental. I have always been a proponent of a seven game divisional series, and it's very possible that it's because I have always believed that the A's fortune over the last few years would have been different had this been the case; instead of their famous game-five exits, they would have had game-seven advances. Yet, logically, as someone who believes that the true test of a team is not in the small sample size of a short series--whether five or seven games--why should it even matter? Would we have seen any difference over the last ten years if this had been implemented? I don't know.

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The article simply stated that MLB is thinking of adding a travel day:

Since the best-of-five first-round series went to the current format in 1998, the team with the better record (or the non-Wild Card winner) has hosted the opening two games, and then after an off-day, has played the next two games of the series in the opposing city. If the series goes to the limit, it returns to the host of the opening games, but without a travel day.

At its extreme, in 2000, the Yankees and A's had to fly back to Oakland from New York for a deciding Game 5 on a Sunday, which the Yankees won. The Yankees then had to return to New York to open the American League Championship Series against Seattle two days later.

It is interesting to note that, as the article points out, during the first three years of the division series, the team with the worse record (or the Wild Card) would host the first two games, and then play three on the road, which was changed to the current format, 2+2+1. I think this was a good change, but obviously requires more travel, especially if both coasts are involved.

I like the off-day idea. In fact I like it so much, I'm imagining it's going to solve the first problem I mentioned: if MLB could use this as a way to stagger off-days, and series games, so there are two games a day instead of three at this level, then A's quite possibly could get a reasonable timeslot for any future playoff appearances. I'm not picky; I'll settle for the afternoon.

<sigh>

A girl can dream, can't she?

So what do you think? Are the playoffs fine the way they are? And if you were to change anything about the structure, what would it be?