Earlier in the season, Bud Selig commissioned a panel to look at MLB and the present game of baseball to see what improvements could be made. According to Selig at the time, everything was open to scrutiny including replay, post season, the length of games and so on. While the immediate clamor has been for expanded replay to correct large lapses in umpiring, the first result seems to be a push for expanded playoffs according to this article.
The Fan's first reaction to all of this is, "Oh GEEZ!" The playoffs, as they stand now are overly long, drawn out affairs that take three weeks or more to accomplish. According to some, in order to accommodate more playoff games, there might have to be a shrinkage of the 162 game schedule. That's all we need, more confusion with statistics. First of all, shortening the regular season schedule would negatively affect the bottom line for all 30 teams, so that isn't going to happen. So if you want more playoff games, you'd have to start the season earlier and finished the playoffs later. That's all we need is to have Cleveland and Minnesota games in mid-March.
The greatest need in baseball, aside from replay, is to figure out how kids can watch playoff games and to realign the teams for fairness and common sense. Sports and the City, a blog from Toronto, ran a commentary a while back that kicked around some playoff and alignment possibilities. One commenter for that site ("Roberto" was the name he used) proposed going back to a two division set up with balanced schedules, two division winners and two wild cards. That makes perfect sense except that the balanced schedule would mean more travel for teams and the union wouldn't care for that very much.
Here is the only expanded playoff system the Fan would support. Add one more wild card to each league. Two days after the season, have the two wild cards play a three game series with no off days. The winner plays the top seeded team which begins the playoffs as we now know them. If you add one more wild card, you at least give the leagues each one more shot to have a good team have a chance for the gold. They would just have to win four series instead of three to get there. There should be no griping because those teams didn't win the division, why should they have the ability to set up their rotations like the division winners? Such an expansion would only increase the post season by four days. The division series would start two days after the end of the Wild Card Series. See, we even have a name for it!
The one problem this Fan has with the current set up is that the wild card team currently gets to set up its rotation and prepare the same way the winner of the division does. That doesn't seem right since that team didn't win its division. The extra wild card puts the two wild card winners at a disadvantage throughout the playoffs, which is how it should be. If that was the case, the Yankees couldn't coast into the playoffs resting all their players because the current wild card isn't a penalty except for home field advantage. They would have more incentive to win the division.
And there is no reason to hold up both series to finish up the Wild Card Series. You could have the division winners with the second and third best records to start their series concurrently with the Wild Card Series while the division winner with the best record awaits the outcome of the Wild Card Series. This is the only expansion of the playoffs this Fan would support...which is always a statement made by the guy who proposes a new idea, right? Guilty.
This Fan doesn't want to shorten the season of 162 games. This Fan doesn't want baseball games in mid-March or mid-November. This Fan DOES want some day games so kids can watch and still get to bed on time. Those that work, just record the dang game for crying out loud. The single worst thing that ever happened to the post season was allowing the networks to dictate a schedule. It has led to too many days off, too much delay and a long, drawn out playoff process (that still doesn't have replay...but still has Buck and McCarver).