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Postseason Suggestions?

The first round of the playoffs is over and baseball's best teams during the regular season -- the Cubs in the National League and Angels in the American League -- have been sent home for the winter.

The Cubs were lethargic from the start of the postseason while the Angels were involved in a terrific series against Boston before being eliminated, but both teams put themselves in an immediate hole by losing their first two games at home.

There has been some debate on various baseball programs as to whether a five-game series is too short for the first round or if the wild-card winner is not being given a difficult enough task after not winning its division. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has even suggested that if the first round continues to be limited to five games, then it would be more fair if the wild card hosted the first game while the next four were played at the division winner.

I don't know if I buy that idea, but I'm willing to listen to others.Your thoughts?

By Tom Heleba  |  October 7, 2008; 12:38 AM ET
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dear thomas boswell,

you are an idiot. there are no 2 ways about it. reading your columns you have the iq of an eggplant or sarah palin. you know nothing about baseball and should get out of the game. its almost impossible to start with how stupid this post and all your other musings on baseball are. just to start...anything can happen. boston had 162 games and did not outpace the rays. if its the phillies, 7 games in fenway/citizenbank are like coin flips. the dodgers have a SUPERIOR bullpen compared to the sox. the rays are young and hungry and youth will not be afraid. you are dumb and do not belong on a baseball blog please stop posting here.

Posted by: love | October 7, 2008 1:26 AM

Posted by: love | October 7, 2008 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Baseball has traditionally given a significant advantage to first place teams - second place teams didn't make the playoffs. That is, baseball's playoffs have traditionally been for teams who, after a long season, finished in first place.

But, we've added football's Wild Card, and in doing so we've weakened the traditional first place advantage. A five game series with three home games for the first place team is not a significant advantage. Even football gives its best post-season teams a first-round bye - a distinct advantage. Second place teams in baseball's playoffs should have an extra hurdle or two to clear before sailing through the playoffs.

One idea is to have TWO wild card teams per league play an intense three or five game play-in series. The first place teams get to rest, while the wild card teams - kinda like the play-in game for the 64th NCAA basketball team - have to play an extra round. The union probably wouldn't go for that, however, and some say that long rest is not necessarily an advantage in baseball as it is in football.

If an extra death-match round for wild card teams isn't going to work, Scioscia's idea is pretty good - give a four out of five game home-field advantage to the first place team. That is an advantage, but not enough in my opinion.

To be honest, though, I think that the Wild Card makes for great late September baseball - more teams fighting for more spots - but otherwise it ruins the post season. After a long 162-game season, the whole post season can come down to one or two bad starts in a five game series . . . and that doesn't seem right. Give me the best teams fighting each other, not the team that happened to get hot in early October (2007 Colorado Rockies). Streaks happen, yes, and good teams should step up in big games, but ours is a sport that values long-term consistency over a long season. The post season as it is currently configured favors the team who is on the hot streak, even if it fought all season long only to get into second place.

Heck, why not shorten the season and throw half the league in the postseason, as they do in hockey?

Posted by: Philly Phan in Phairfax | October 7, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

One of the justifications for having a wild card is the imbalance inherent in having divisions, so the best teams can get into the postseason, even if the two best teams are in the same division, which isn't uncommon.

Hockey/basketball-rules postseason playoffs might be interesting, but it would still be 2013 before either DC or B'more contend.

Posted by: ce | October 7, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

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