Currently, Major League Baseball is in a lockout as the MLBPA and MLB have refused to reach a new CBA agreement. The Chicago White Sox and the rest of the league have their Opening Days on delay. There are many issues separating both sides but both are using the same bargaining chip which is expanding the playoffs to 14 teams. I think this is a terrible idea.
With baseball playing 162 games a season (although it’s, unfortunately, going to be less this year), there’s no reason that 14 out of 30 teams should be making the playoffs. Putting seven teams in the playoffs in both leagues will seriously dilute the talent of the playoff teams and allow mediocre teams in.
The unfortunate part is that the CBA has already increased the playoffs to 12 teams which are already too many by itself, let alone going to 14. Personally, I think baseball was fine when there were only 8 teams making the playoffs.
There was nothing wrong with that system. Making the playoffs in baseball used to mean something and now it’s just going to be something that makes you shrug your shoulders.
Having seven playoff teams is especially a bad idea when considering the weaker National League, where the 82-80 Philadelphia Phillies would have made it this year. Increasing to 12 teams in the playoffs might be ok as the 84-78 Reds would have made it but once you start getting to the seventh best team in the league you’re looking at someone pretty mediocre.
The Chicago White Sox should be pushing against expanded playoffs.
What MLB should be looking to do is expand the league to 32 teams, preferably by giving new teams to Nashville and Montreal. If baseball has 32 teams in total, 12 playoff teams or 37.5% making the playoffs might not be so bad.
It would be similar to the old NFL system. However, putting 14 out of 30 into the playoffs makes it more like the NBA and that system isn’t going to work in a sport like baseball where any team can win any game and the regular season win total has to count for a lot.
Furthermore, the expanded playoffs would do nothing to help the Chicago White Sox who have finally gotten into a position where they can win the AL Central annually. Making the White Sox play an extra round of playoffs against a weaker team is just going to lower the chances of the team ever winning a championship again.
There’s no season in recent history where the Chicago White Sox finished with the seventh-best record in the league so this would do nothing to help them. Even in 2012 when the team finished 85-77, they would have fallen short as they had the 8th best record in the league.
Seriously, if you’re expanding all the way to seven teams, why not just go all the way to eight? Then at least every team could enter the season feeling like they had a chance. Seven is not the magic number.
Personally, I think the fewer playoff teams the MLB has, the better. There was nothing wrong with the 8 team playoff system the league had from 1995 to 2011 and that’s the only time frame in recent history the White Sox won the World Series or even the AL pennant.
Adding the wild card game gave more teams a chance but it also made the playoffs bizarre as wild card teams had to waste their number 1 starter for the play-in game, although that didn’t stop the Nationals from winning it all in 2019.
The MLB should be focusing on adding more teams and growing the game geographically, as that will do a lot more to create excitement than adding more playoff teams will do. What’s even worse is that seven playoff teams don’t even work logistically, as every team doesn’t have someone to play.
They’ll have to give the number 1 seed a “bye” and what’s worse is the idea that the higher seeds will “pick their opponents”. I don’t know how one is supposed to pick your opponent but I think being “picked” would add motivation to the weaker teams and allow for even worse teams to win championships.
The worst idea of them all being floated is a “ghost win” where all division winners start out the series with a 1-0 lead. This is an incredibly bad idea yet MLB is seriously pushing for it. There are no fans of the game that want such an insulting playoff process and this will only alienate people who dislike all of the league’s bad changes.
The problem with all of this is that the best team in baseball should be winning the World Series. I mean that’s the point, right? Shouldn’t they be the “best in the world”? In that case, no team with less than 88 wins (in a full season) should ever be winning the championship and to even allow for that possibility by adding weaker teams is a disgrace to the game of baseball.
If the league cared about the integrity and sacredness of the sport, they would be reducing playoff teams in order to ensure that only a true champion is crowned the World Series winner. But to Commissioner Rob Manfred, it’s just another piece of metal.