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.