A Best of One Series? Really?

Baseball's playoffs now begin in earnest after Monday's totally superfluous, season-extending games (whose bright idea was it to hold tie-breaking playoff games to break a tie for first place in a division in situations where the loser would still make the playoffs as a wild card?) will play one game to decide which team in each case advances to the Division Series.

But why shouldn't it be best of three? Shouldn't the fans of every team that makes the playoffs be entitled to see their team play at least one postseason game at home? This is true if a team makes it to the Division Series, either by winning their division or getting there by winning the wild card game — even if such a team gets swept in three straight in the Division Series and did not have the home field in the wild card game if they had to play in it, they will have gotten to host Game 3 of the Division Series.

And think of how going to a best-of-three format will magnify the advantage that accrues to the top seed: if the wild card series goes the full three games, the top seed will have three days rest while the winner of the Wild Card Series would have no days rest at all, and maybe even after having to travel coast-to-coast twice. Isn't the idea to help the team that finished with the best record in the league as much as possible, and to hurt a wild card as much as possible?

And don't even get me started about how in no case should a wild card ever get the home field advantage over a division champion in the World Series, even if they finish with a better record than said division champion. Under current procedures, the wild card would get the extra home game in the latter situation. Indeed, it happened in 2011, when the wild card St. Louis Cardinals had the home field advantage over the AL West champion Texas Rangers, and the Cardinals won Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis (the Cardinals even finished six games behind the Rangers in the standings, but only beginning last season has regular-season won-lost records been used to determine home advantage in the World Series).

Furthermore, it would make it more difficult for the wild card team that finished with the worse record to pull off an upset in a best-of-three series than in a single game. And so far at least, it has not been difficult at all for the road team to win that single game: Since the wild card game was added in 2012, the road teams are 7-5, meaning that the home field advantage in the wild card round has literally been less than nothing!

If the regular season schedule were to be rolled back to 154 games — have you hugged a purist today? — the regular season can end one week earlier than it does now (answer to a trivia question: under the current rules, it ends on the fifth Sunday in September if such a Sunday exists, or on the first Sunday in October if there isn't one). The number of games each team plays against their four division rivals would simply be reduced from the present 19 games to 17, the interdivision and interleague schedule patterns remaining the same. And besides guaranteeing that there will never be another "asterisk" in baseball, this will also guarantee that there will never be a baseball counterpart to the NFL's "Ice Bowl" between the Packers and the Cowboys (I exaggerate only marginally).

Last — and never least — there is the almighty dollar: two more postseason games, one in each league, only the first two games of a best-of-three series would presumably be eligible to be added to the player's pool (now only the single wild card games in each league become a part of it), just like only the first three games of the best-of-five LDS and only the first four games of the best-of-seven LDS and World Series are eligible, as tradition dictates in this area. And also bowing to tradition, the shares given to the teams that finish second in their division, but do not make the playoffs ought to be restored. These shares were abolished when the wild card games were added, because if both wild cards came from the same division, in either league or both, there would be more non-playoff second-place teams.

So what? Simply allocate two per cent of the player's pool to these teams, no matter how many there are — two, three, or four, with the two Wild Card Series losers splitting 5 per cent (up from 3 per cent), the four Division Series losers splitting 16 per cent (up from 13 per cent), the two League Championship Series losers splitting 22 per cent (down from 24 per cent), the World Series loser receiving 22 per cent (down from 24 per cent), and the World Series winner 33 per cent (down from 36 per cent).

So in addition to improving the postseason, bring back the 154-game schedule — and bring back the "first division."

M.B.G.A. — Make Baseball Great Again!

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We see something very interesting with the sport bookmakers. Sports betting sites give Red Sox and Astros almost the same odds of winning the pennant. You can see the same with the odds for American League winner, but when we see the odds for the National League winner, the Dodgers are the favorite.

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