The 2016 postseason is officially underway with the completion of the two wild card games. And what better way to kick things off than with extra innings, beer bottles on the field and walk offs?
The playoffs format has changed greatly over the years, and I’m happy to say I’m very content with the current setup. Of course, many people detest it because hey, you can’t please everyone. The play-in games for the two wild card teams start the postseason, leading to divisional series for the American and the National Leagues, bringing us to the championship series for both leagues, ending, of course, with the World Series.
We’ll start off with the one game play in series. Each division has a first place team who obviously qualifies to make the postseason. Up until 2011, there was only one wild card team for each league, making it possible to qualify for playoffs despite not being a divisional leader. In 2012, MLB made things interesting with the addition of a second wild card team. If your team isn’t in it, you love the one game play-in series. If your team is in it, you spend the entire day up until first pitch sweating. It’s essentially an automatic Game 7, a do or die situation. As was the case at Rogers Centre Tuesday, every strike, every out and every hit elicits cheers from the crowd. As a spectator, this provides incredible baseball. Both teams are giving everything they’ve got (unless you’re Baltimore and you’re not using your best closer) and you can really see the determination on both sides. As a fan of one of these two teams, this is edge of your seat, biting your nails baseball. This addition to the playoff format is a win in my book, a perfect way to set the mood for the postseason.
Moving on to the Divisional Series. A best of five series to determine who moves on to the championship round. There are a lot of complaints from people on the five games, rather than the best of seven format used for the next two rounds. Personally, I’m a fan of the shorter series. One of the biggest flaws with a lot of professional sports playoffs is the amount of time it takes to wrap things up. Sure we all love to watch it, but it shouldn’t take months to complete. At the divisional round, there are still eight teams left in contention. The best of five is a fair amount of time for one team to prove their dominance over the other, without consuming too much time.
The Championship Series and the World Series are both best of seven. As opposed to the Divisional Series, this seems to me an appropriate series length. By the championship round, there are four teams left. There’s a little more breathing room in terms of time, and the teams who made it this far deserve full series. Seven potential games allow each team to show everything they have. You’ll likely go through your entire rotation, and the endurance and talent of your bullpen, as well as your offense, will be put to the test.
The baseball postseason takes, at most, one full month to complete, assuming each series goes the full length. While that may seem like a lot of time, remember there are 162 games in the regular season, spanning over five months. When it comes to postseason, one month of play seems proportional to five months of regular games.
Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org