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Baseball Is Out-Dumbing Itself: Why The 2-3 Division Series Format Makes Zero Sense

We’re not the first to throw our hands up in disgust over Major League Baseball’s new 2-3 Division Series format. As you already know, the team with home field advantage has had its advantage relegated to Games 3, 4 and 5, thereby creating the possibility of the advantaged team actually playing fewer games at home. That is, if the series is a three-game sweep in favor of the visiting team, the team with home field advantage would only be able to cash in on said advantage once.

Obviously this format deserves death by firing squad. The Oakland Athletics, one of baseball’s more exciting stories, is currently getting squeezed by the MLB – they’re stuck in an 0-2 hole, with Game 3 now being their first home matchup. But to Bud Selig’s delight and the general public’s dismay, the road teams of the other series (or really, the overall home teams) have all snagged at least one of the first two games – thus flipping the script and turning a three-game run of home field into a huge advantage.

But even though three out of four series have swung in favor of this change, that still leaves the Athletics unjustly screwed. And when it comes to postseason scheduling, especially when a short five-game series determines the fate of 162 games, mismanaging the logistics is inexcusably disconcerting. 162 games is a lot of games, and the wacky anything-can-happen nature of baseball somewhat justifies this long-run evening out. The best teams typically make the playoffs, and the best of the best are rightfully awarded home field advantage. But to level the playing field even more, discounting the 162-game grind in favor of parity or money or something else, is confounding.

Everyone was happy with the 2-2-1 format. It was clean and simple, and it made sense. The favored team was guaranteed at least two games at home, as well as the all-important deciding Game 5. But sports seem to detest stagnancy to a fault, tinkering and tampering with working parts until their functionality is crippled. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And that doesn’t even take into account the new five-team playoff system, which mitigates nearly all advantage for the first place Wild Card team. But this is the same league that decides home field advantage in the World Series via the All-Star Game – the same game in which players from non-playoff contending teams are not only participating, but obligated to play.

Bud Selig!

  • bernieb

    thankfully this is the only year we’ll need to endure this clusterturd of a 2-3 schedule, since Bud threw in the 5 team playoff after the post season schedule was set.
    But why not just get rid of a travel day? Teams travel on the same day as games all season long, they can’t bite the bullet for 1 day during a short series to avoid this 2-3 mess?

  • Ryan

    They also used to have no off day between Games 4 and 5 in the first round. They added that about 5 years ago. They could just go back to the way they used to do it. There was never any real logic behind the 2-3 system.

  • http://twitter.com/bflo360 Ben Florance

    Everybody knows the 2-3 format sucks but it’s only for one year and since the schedule was not set yet for the Wild Card, MLB had to rid itself of a travel day. Things will be much better next year.

  • Dylan Murphy

    There’s just this obsession with innovation – stagnancy isn’t a bad thing, sometimes. And yes, things will be reset next year, but isn’t it a little messed up that TV scheduling takes precedence over what’s good for the game/players?

  • dude

    “And that doesn’t even take into account the new five-team playoff system, which mitigates nearly all advantage for the first place Wild Card team. ”

    You mean it _diminishes_ all advantage. One doesn’t mitigate advantage. Aside from that, this statement is just odd: The point of adding the additional wild card team is to diminish the old wild card advantage. And the proof showed up; it worked. The A’s fought for and won that last series in order to avoid that wild card game, sending the Rangers off to the gallows. The O’s did the same, as did the Yankees, etc. No one wanted to be stuck in that game, and that’s what almost all of us baseball fans were happy to see. The original implementation of the wild card was done out of necessity (to have an even number of teams in the playoffs), but it was faulty in allowing the wild card teams to be on the same footing as division winners. As a result, the final month of the season was more competitive than in the past decade at least, with teams playing far harder for far longer (there were also a lot more player trades after the deadline, as a result — see the Dodgers and the Giants, among others).

    Other commentators here have pointed out that the 2-3 format was simply a product of necessity, with the season schedule already set when the wild card play-in game was announced. There was no other way to shoehorn the added games and travel into the schedule at the late date.

    As far as the travel days between games, I have to say, I don’t mind that. I’d rather players get a day to travel and settle in for playoff games. The regular season is too long to add that, but giving them a bit of rest helps build hype a little, and allows players to be fresh for longer, which only makes for better baseball.

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