Return of the Two-Division Format, Part 1

Before Bud Selig recently decreed that there would be no expansion to Major League Baseball’s playoff format, there had been a lot of talk about expanding the playoffs. Many reasons have been cited – adding excitement for fans, the first Wild Card was a boon for the game, etc. But in the end, the only reason that counts is money. But while adding playoff teams would be one way to make the game more money, it wouldn’t be the only way. What if baseball returned to the two division format?

Baseball fans have accepted the four playoff team per league format at this point. But when the Mets go four years without making the playoffs, or when the Cubs and White Sox have each only made twice in the last seven seasons, that is unsettling for those in charge of TV contracts. But adding a Wild Card team isn’t optimal to the current format, since adding another team means adding another round, which means one of three things: pushing the playoffs permanently into November, pushing the start of the season permanently into March or subtracting games from the regular season, none of which is a desirable option. So that leaves the stewards of the game searching for a different solution. And it is this: return to the two-division format, but with two Wild Card teams per league.

This format allows for more deserving teams to reach the postseason without adding teams to the postseason. This would give rise to the possibility that all three AL East juggernauts reaching the postseason in the same year, and as a result, the competing teams would need to really step up their game to try and if not compete, give their fan base that coveted hope and faith. But moreover, the three-division format has lowered the bar for playoff entry. In 11 of the 15 full seasons of the three-division format, a team with less than 90 wins has been a division winner. In some years, there have been two division winners clocking in at under 90 wins. Whether or not these teams succeed in the playoffs is immaterial, since any team can win a best-of-five or best-of-seven. Moving back to a two-division format with two Wild Cards is the best way to assure that the four teams that net the golden tickets in each league truly deserved them.

So what would the renewed two-division format look like? First, let’s get in our time machines and return to that distant year of 1993:

AL East: Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Toronto

AL West: California (Los Angeles), Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, Texas

NL East: Chicago, Florida, Montreal (Washington), New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis

NL West: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

Looking at the AL East, a simple swap of Milwaukee for Tampa Bay is all that is needed. Then in the AL, Milwaukee must now stay in the NL, as having 15 teams in both leagues would mean that one team is off every night. The AL West is even easier, as no changes are required. It’s the NL where things get a bit wonky.

There’s simply no perfect solution in the NL. You could make an argument for an 11 team NL East and a five team NL West (the same five that are there now). In my proposed alignment, Chicago, Houston and St. Louis end up in the NL West, but they all have cases to be eastern teams. In the end, there just aren’t enough slots available, so some decisions have to be made. Chicago and St. Louis slide to the west to keep their rivalry intact and to push Atlanta and Cincy into the east where they clearly belong. A purist might argue that a rivalry is a minor issue, but a pragmatist will say that all the Cardinals-Cubs Sunday night games on ESPN say otherwise. The one team who probably isn’t thrilled about this either way is Houston, but they are not real close to any teams, and it’s also difficult to make all 30 teams happy at once.

So here’s the final breakdown:

AL East: Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto

AL West: Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, Texas

NL East: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Florida, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL West: Arizona, Chicago, Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco

Tomorrow we’ll go back and take a look at how this proposed division alignment and playoff format would have effected the playoff races of the past 15 years, and we’ll finish up in part three by looking ahead to how it would shape the races of 2011 and beyond.




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Paul Swydan is the co-managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for ESPN MLB Insider and the Boston Globe. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


83 Responses to “Return of the Two-Division Format, Part 1”

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  1. Max says:

    Why not just get rid of divisions entirely and have the top four teams in each league make the playoffs? And move an NL team to the AL while you’re at it.

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    • Matt says:

      To address your second question: “Then in the AL, Milwaukee must now stay in the NL, as having 15 teams in both leagues would mean that one team is off every night. “

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      • Mike D says:

        No, it just means that at least one (or three, or five, etc.) interleague series have to occur throughout the season. That could be a scheduling nightmare.

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      • Doug Lampert says:

        I don’t see why it would be significantly harder to schedule. It actually gets MUCH EASIER to arrange to minimize cross-country flights overnight if you can put all your games in the same area in the same series rather than segregating them out.

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      • Dash says:

        Or just bring back regular double headers.

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    • baty says:

      Seriously… Having 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other, is childish and getting really old. Surely the baseball gods can come up with a way to divide 30 by 2.

      Eliminating divisions altogether would be great… if you want the 4 best teams in each league for the playoffs, then just do it. Divisional bragging rights are a thing of the past. The regional travel schedules can stay close to the same also.

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      • TL says:

        “Divisional bragging rights are a thing of the past.”

        Not if you are a Yankees or Red Sox fan. Those games are big games in to us and the division bragging rights are worth something to us even if both teams make the playoffs.

        I also suspect there are plenty of other intra-division rivals that would agree as well.

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      • miguel says:

        yeah, i fuckin hate the cubs and cards

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  2. Vinnie says:

    I like most of it, but in the NL, I’d say screw geography and swap Houston and Milwaukee so that the Brewers-Cardinals and Brewers-Cubs rivalries also stay in tact.

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    • MrKnowNothing says:

      That was my first thought as well. Though I was more thinking in terms of geography given that Chicago and Milwaukee are barely an hour apart (and it’s a North-South divide, not East-West) so it seems kind of silly to keep them in separate divisions.

      Houston’s in the middle of nowhere, with no surrounding NL team, so sticking them in the East won’t hurt. Besides, they’re just as close to ATL as they are to STL.

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    • chuckb says:

      There’s a bigger rivalry between the Astros and Cardinals than there is between the Brewers and Cardinals.

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      • Joe says:

        Selig would absolutely keep the Brewers-Cubs rivalry alive, if for no other reason than the fact that the number of Cubs fans at Cubs-Brewers games is a significant portion of ticket sales.

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  3. dutchbrowncoat says:

    sort of borrow a concept from football and go with a north/south moniker instead of east/west. the groups are largely aligned that way anyway, as east has a lot of northwest” and south is a lot of southwest.
    using your breakdown…
    - in the nl, swap st louis and chicago for atlanta and florida to make the east north and the west south.
    - in the al, swap the rays for the twins.
    or just stick with your group and leave it east/west for al and north/south for nl. not a big deal, i think.

    or screw that naming entirely and just make a blue/red division or something similar and just bunch the groups best you can for travel/rivalry/balance purposes.

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    • dutchbrowncoat says:

      i meant “east has a lot of northeast”, sorry

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      • Matt says:

        This is baseball dammit! Not the civil war! Actually, that isn’t a bad idea, but it would seem so odd for some reason.

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    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      How about the Legends and Leaders?

      +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • arch support says:

      Not sure how much of an issue this is any more, but a North/South orientation versus an East/West would cause problems with time zones.

      If Atlanta is in the same division as San Diego and plays fifteen or eighteen (or whatever the intra-division games are with an unbalanced schedule) games against them, that’s a three hour difference in game times.

      San Diego fans have to watch half their games against Atlanta start at 4 PM instead of 7. Meanwhile, Atlanta fans have half their games against SD starting at 10 PM. And this would be true of every extreme west team playing an extreme east team (Yankees/Mariners, Giants/Phillies, etc.).

      I believe that would have such a significant reduction on viewing audiences that teams wouldn’t go for it.

      As a Cards fan, I recall back in the late ’80s / early ’90s, conversations on talk radio about MLB potentially moving the Braves to the NL East and the Cards to the NL West. St. Louis fans did much grousing that almost half their games would be starting at 9 PM local time (how Braves fans did it back then … I salute them). I imagine that sentiment would still be true today if you went with a North/South orientation.

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      • Wally says:

        The country is also a far bit longer East-west, than it is North-South. So if you have teams going from your example Atlanta-SD/LA more often than from Atlanta to NY/Philly, then players spend more time on planes, which they won’t like, and will also cost more money, which owners won’t like.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        good point wally. but thinking it through, i don’t think it is actually that big of a problem. teams will often bunch away games for this purpose. i know my mets will do a west coast trip and bunch together games against say the pads, giants, and dodgers. and yes, while some flights will now be longer, some will be shorter as well you cant forget that.

        overall, i concede that travel distance might increase, but i think the difference would be negligible.

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  4. Joe says:

    Your current description of tv markets not being utilized during the playoffs is probably true. However, by placing teams in divisions that span 3 time zones, you end up with a similar problem for an entire season. I would propose that part of the success of tv ratings in recent years for regular season games is tied to the relative infrequent occurrence of 9 or 10pm starts in the eastern and midwestern markets.

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  5. gorillagogo says:

    “Milwaukee must now stay in the NL, as having 15 teams in both leagues would mean that one team is off every night.”

    Not true. All MLB needs to do is schedule interleague games throughout the entire season, like the NFL, NHL and NBA already do.

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    • oh dear says:

      THIS.

      3 divisions with a rolling interleague schedule (one interleague match going on at all times) works out perfectly into the 162-game MLB schedule.

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  6. Mike K says:

    I don’t think claiming that 11 of 15 seasons had a team 2/ less than 90 wins is meaningful, as a reason why 3-divisions don’t work. The 15 full season between 1978 and 1993 (excluding the 81 strike year), there were 7 teams that won their division w/ less than 90 wins.

    That said, I do support 2 divisions, and restructuring the leagues to an East-West breakdown. Then there should only be a handful of games more than 1 timezone apart…

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  7. Brian says:

    how about we just leave the two leagues at 14 and 16 and get rid of interleague

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  8. Max A says:

    Thank you for writing this, ever since the 82 win Cardinals won the whole thing, I’ve been preaching the return to a 2 division format. Every year one division has been boring, this will make every race exciting without getting rid of any playoff teams.

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  9. mettle says:

    Move the Indians to Vegas and the Brewers or Pirates to Portland or San Antonio so that the Chicago teams can be East, where they belong.

    There are an outsized number of rust-belt/mid-west teams (Pitt, Cinn, Cleve, Det, Mil) for that region’s population, which is only declining. People are moving South and West, not to Ohio (2 teams in Ohio and only 2 in all of NY/NJ/Conn?? Really?), and it’s time baseball reflected that.

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    • Chris says:

      Except that Cleveland STILL has a larger metro population than Vegas, not to mention that Vegas has a very transient population as people don’t tend to stay in Vegas, they go where the work is. And to argue that tourists would want to go see their team play in Vegas is ridiculous, people go to Vegas for the gambling, girls, and booze. They want vice, not to sit in 100+ degree heat with the sun beating down on them watching a baseball game.

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      • AK707 says:

        True, about Vegas being small, but if they wanted to get tourists out there, I wonder if the league would let them have slots at the ballpark. We can already drink, and cheerleaders are already in Miami. I think it could work.

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      • Cidron says:

        Another problem with Vegas (living there myself) is that there are so many events already that alot are missed by fans of that event. That and there are alot of large venues so that even if we build a stadium it would be “just another venue” lost in the sea of them. Also, where in town would you put it? The prices of land are insane most anywhere, and, the highway system that runs thru town wont do for a regular event like accessing a stadium. And, there are the “character issues” that would come with Vegas. NBA shies away from Vegas already for gambling reasons. If not mistaken, the Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings, as well as the Palms casino, cannot place in the sports book, a line on the Kings games (meaning they dont permit betting on Kings games in their casino) by law/agreement. Vegas is ok, but probably a poor sports town for a major league team. Besides, we already got a Toronto Blue Jays!! (yippee!) AAA team. (pls note sarcasm)

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    • Paul SF says:

      “(2 teams in Ohio and only 2 in all of NY/NJ/Conn?? Really?)”

      Actually, no. Not really. While the Mets and the Yankees are the only teams based in those three states, that tristate market heavily consists of the Red Sox (in Connecticut and northern New York) and the Phillies (southern New Jersey)I consider that a four-team region.

      Granted, New York City could easily support a third team on its own, and doing so would help equalize the playing field between the Yankees and the rest of baseball in a more market-friendly way, but that ain’t happening in this lifetime.

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  10. Atothe says:

    For some odd reason I wanna see how the AL East will play out in the next 5 years I want to see if they can field 5 over .500 teams at multiple years.

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  11. PTS says:

    I am an East Coast New York team fan so my opinion is the only one that should matter. MLB should be realigned to meet my needs, and my needs only. Therefore, I propose the following minor adjustments:

    1) West Coast teams will not start a game later than 4 PM local time. None of their fans care anyway. 10:35PM First pitch at a 1/4 full Oakland Coliseum just doesn’t work for me. I still think there should be West Coast trips though, don’t get me wrong. They are usually inferior teams that only get the upperhand due to jet lag; my solution would take care of this while maintaining my chosen team’s dominence.

    2) 3 divisions will be sorted by team nicknames (animal, vegetable, or mineral.) Teams can change their nickname every winter to try and get into a different division, but as everyone will be constantly changing their names, we will have re-alignment every year. This should keep those ‘MLB should use a soccer style format’ happy. And, think of the marketing opportunities Bud!

    3) Keep the DH, but only allow starting pitchers on their throw day to be penciled in as the DH. They cannot be pinch-hit for, but the pitcher can. Scorecard hilarity will ensue, and it will keep the umpires on their toes.

    4) Milton Bradley, MLB Morailty Police Chief. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can, do (and then get suspended for it) should lay down the law. He could leap from the stands and tackle someone before they even attack an umpire. Like in that Tom Cruise movie, where he is the mind reading future cop? Cop Gun or something?

    5) Or, just leave it all the same.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Doug says:

    I’d rather just leave it alone.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      I agree, although I didn’t really know I did until I saw the list of teams in the 2-division system. The teams just mostly don’t have anything to do with each other. It just feels like two random baskets of teams. With 3 divisions, with a few exceptions, geography really does bind the teams together pretty well, which when I think about it, I like. It creates rivalries pretty effectively too, which are fun.

      I get that the AL East is hellish with the two payroll behemoths, but it’s the only division that’s really “broken” in that way, and broken though it may be, it’s also a huge generator of cash and baseball interest. Who cares if the Red Sox clash with the Brewers for the division title?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        In the older 2-division format, ATL, CIN were in the NL West, and CHI & STL were in the East.

        If we are looking to move to new formats or return to 2-division per leagues, then why not completely base it by region, sort of a “college conference feel”).

        [1] Northeast
        [2] SouthEast
        [3] Midwest
        [4] West Coast

        East (AL); West (NL)

        It also puts the larger, wealthier, Northeast cities together.

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  13. Double D says:

    The reason the league likes low-win wildcard or low-win division winners in the playoffs – having that team that doesn’t belong – is because it increases the hopes of fans in Pittsburgh, Toronto, KC, or anywhere else teams have a hard time getting in the playoffs. 2 divisions doesn’t guarantee the 4 best teams get in. But it does make it that much more daunting for the teams at the bottom to rise up. I like the idea of interleague every nite tho.

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    • Cidron says:

      well, we could make three divisions…

      Division 1 – “The Have’s” – NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox, California of Anaheim of Southern California, of somewheredownthere Angels.

      Division 3 – “The Have nots” – Pittsburgh Pirates, KC Royals, LA Clippers..(err, wrong sport)..

      Division 2 – everybody else.

      At the end of the season, have Division 1 teams play each other for the World Series title. Homefield chosen by regular season, divisional record. Send winners of div 2 and 3 a “thank you for participating” note and send them home.

      It allows a possibility of almost all to win at least a divisional championship in our lifetime. And, it guarantees “the same ole same ole” at the WS level too.

      ok ok, i jest, … or.. do I?

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    • siggian says:

      There is no, repeat, no possibility of having a low-win division winner in the AL East as long as it contains are two teams with massive payrolls and at least competent management.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. notsellingjeans says:

    Cool topic, and a fun thought exercise…but I think the league should hold off on any dramatic changes until Oakland and Tampa Bay can sort out the future of their stadium situations.

    Those two franchises are the last two with substandard stadium facilities. They are the only two franchises remaining that have any slight chance (1%) of being relocated or contracted in the next 15-20 years.

    The league should wait for some closure with those two franchises’ future before doing any type of realignment.

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  15. Standard_Deviance says:

    One problem with this proposal is that it assumes that the best teams in each league making the playoffs is a desirable outcome. I’m not sure, however, that absolute competitive justice (ie, no deserving team gets beat out for a playoff spot by an undeserving one) is in the league’s best interest (at least from the point of view of those running the league).

    Simply put, the current format gives more teams an opportunity to remain in the playoff hunt for longer than would Swydan’s proposed two division format. It also creates opportunities for weaker teams to sneak in to the playoffs through weaker divisions (2006 Cardinals). Whether or not these outcomes are “fair” matters less, from the point of view of league and team ownership, than that more teams can remain competitively relevant, and more teams can sell themselves to their fans as competitive.

    So yeah, the three division format has lowered the bar for playoff entry, but I can’t see why this would be a thing the league would want to change much. And that, more than anything else, seems to be the primary motivation behind your proposal.

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  16. Neil says:

    Or how about get rid of conferences all together and take the top 8 teams at the end of the year. Make the Pirates a AA team and while everyone will play the Marlins those games no longer count since no one is in the stadium to see the game anyway. 28 teams leads to 6 games against every other team in baseball, 3 at home, 3 on the road.

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  17. Blue says:

    I’d love to see the Royals back in the AL West with their traditional rivals.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Sox27 says:

    It seems to me the only reason we’re having this discussion is so that more AL East teams can make the playoffs.

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    • dutchbrowncoat says:

      “It seems to me the only reason we’re having this discussion is so that the best baseball teams can make the playoffs.”

      there, i fixed it for you. east coast bias doesn’t change the fact that this division has the three best teams in the american league.

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    • jbdickson says:

      The league is more exciting when Boston isn’t in the playoffs

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  19. WooIsMe says:

    I like the idea of going back to East/West divisions in the 2 leagues, and it would result in more deserving playoff teams. However, how do you break up the 162 games played?

    For example, if no interleague games are played, each team in the 16 team league could play 98 games within its own division (14 games against each of 7 teams) and 64 with the other division (8 games). A similar 98/64 breakdown in the 14 team league results in 16 or 17 games against each team within its own division and 9 or 10 games with the other division. This would work out pretty well with travel and be a balanced schedule within each division.

    If you wanted to be fairer to the wild cards, instead of 98/64, the breakdown could be 84/78, like it was before the last 2 expansion teams were added. But this results in fewer regional rivalry games and more travel.

    However, once you add interleague games, it gets pretty crazy. At least two teams in the larger league would have more intraleague games than the other teams in the league. I leave it to someone else to propose an ideal split.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • newsense says:

      With interleague play:

      AL: 90 (15×6 ) games in own division
      56 (8×7) against other division
      16 interleague games
      NL: 84 (12×7) games in own division
      64 (8 x 8) against other division
      14 interleague games

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      • Joe says:

        My proposed split:

        AL = 152 AL + 12 IL for 164 games total (nothing sacred about 162)
        6 x 16 = 96 division
        7 x 8 = 56 other div
        4 series of 3 IL games for 14*12=168 IL games

        NL = 152 or 155 NL plus 12 or 9 IL = 164 total
        7 x 14 = 98 division
        8 x 7 = 56 other div
        Those with a “significant IL rivalry” play 12 (and 2 fewer against ‘other division’ teams), those without play 9 (and 1 more against an ‘other division’ team); to get to 168 we need 8 of each, 8*12 + 8*9. NYM (NYY), CHC (CWS), SFG (OAK), PHI (BOS), CIN (CLE), STL (KC), FLA (TB), LAD (LAA) would be one possibility for that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. rick p says:

    “sort of borrow a concept from football ”

    How bout we dont borrow a GD thing from football? What’s next, “upon further review” and the Heehawks in the playoffs Pass

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. MDB says:

    Add teams to Indianapolis and Salt Lake City
    AL East: Washington, Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto
    AL West: Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Seattle, Texas, Oakland, Arizona
    NL East: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Florida, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Indianapolis
    NL West: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago, Salt Lake City

    Division Winners make the playoffs and get a bye.
    4 wild card teams in each league.

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  22. Joe says:

    I would like to see a return to a balance schedule so that 2 wild card teams are not the result of unbalanced schedule and a greater % of games with weaker teams.

    This format would likely result in fewer end of the year races – the first wild card team would likely be ‘secure’ most years so you basically turned 3 division races into 2. And of course in both formats the team winning the division which has the wild card leaded is also secure…. so you probably have at best 1 division race per league each year with the new format (and potentially a race for the 2nd wildcard). I’d see this as a key obstacle for the commish to accept it.

    I’m a fan of the format, but I think many in MLB would be opposed to it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Mike H says:

    Yeah, we definitely want to see the same 8 teams in the playoffs every single year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fredsbank says:

      2010
      AL: NYY(1), TEX(1), MIN(1), TBR(1)
      NL: SFG(1), PHI(1), ATL(1), CIN(1)
      2009
      AL: NYY(2), MIN(2), BOS(1), LAA(1)
      NL: COL(1), LAD(1), PHI(2), STL(1)
      2008
      AL: TBR(2), CWS(1), BOS(2), LAA(2)
      NL: MIL(1), LAD(2), PHI(3), CHC(1)
      2007
      AL: NYY(3), CLE(1), BOS(3), LAA(3)
      NL: COL(2), ARI(1), PHI(4), CHC(2)
      2006
      AL: NYY(4), MIN(3), OAK(1), DET(1)
      NL: NYM(1), LAD(3), SDP(1), STL(2)
      2005
      AL: NYY(5), CWS(2), BOS(4), LAA(4)
      NL: HOU(1), ATL(2), SDP(2), STL(3)

      48 team-seasons have reached the playoffs since 2005,
      repeat appearances account for 38 of them, or 79%

      god it would be so boring if the same teams made the playoffs all the time

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Did you miss the 80s?

        I’m not sure if there has ever been a decade where so many different teams made the post-season … and that was with only 2 making it per league.

        Champions
        ————-
        80: PHL
        81: LAD
        82: StL
        83: BAL
        84: DET
        85: KCR
        86: NYM
        87: MIN
        88: LAD
        89: OAK

        Of course payrolls have changed drastically since then. The margin between the top spending teams and the rest of the league has drastically increased.

        Regardless of format, over and under performances, combind with injuries will always throw new teams into the mix.

        I thought the whole point of having such a long season was that multiple rounds of the playoffs were not necessary. The teams were already “sorted out” over 162. In that regard it’s kind of ridiculous to force a team that already beat out a wild card team in its division to do so again in the playoffs (assuming both teams make it past the 1st round). That’s the kind of thing we should expect from shorter season sports.

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      • Mike H says:

        Now figure who would have made the playoffs given the suggested two division format and method above, and see which is worse.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I don’t think you can do that because the scheduling would be different, right?

        I know it’s easy to think that you just just move the Twins to the west and “see where they’d finish”, but IMO that would not be accurate.

        ALE would have had NYY, BOS, TBR battling it out over the last few years. In the 90s CLE and NYY would have been giving the division hell. This division would be continually competitive.

        The ALW would be a continual battle between MIN, CWS, LAA, and now TEX. This division would be continually competitive.

        The NLE would be competitive as well. StL, PHL, NYM, as would the NLW … ATL, SFG, LAD, COL.

        The divisions remain strong and competitive with various teams winning the division, seemingly by 3 year stretches.

        In short, it wouldn’t be the same teams winning the division every year, regardless of format. What the extra divisions do is give a 5th/6th place team the illusion that it’s really a 3rd place team.

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      • fredsbank says:

        yes i did miss the 80s, not being born yet will have that effect on a person.

        but its one thing to compare WS winners with total playoff appearances; in the 1980s, ie the years from 80-89 including the 81 division series, 44 team-seasons reached the playoffs, here are the recidivists: KCR 4, NYY 2, MIL(AL) 2, OAK 4, CAL 2, TOR 2, MIN 2, DET 2 (the only AL 80s teams to only reach the playoffs once were the Orioles and White Sox, and oddly enough that year, 1983, they played each other in the ALCS); PHI 3, HOU 3, LAD 4, STL 3, CHC 2, NYM 2, SFG 2.

        so 39/44 = 88.6%

        so the 80s had both a higher gross repeat postseason count, as well as a higher percentage…

        besides, if you’re just going by WS winners, since 2005 “looks” just as varied: SFG, NYY, PHI, BOS, STL, CWS

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  24. TALKINBASEBALL says:

    And then we can create a formula that that reduces 162 games to some kind of points to create ties, and create a long and coplicated tie breaker system….

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  25. KJOK says:

    I think this is an excellent suggestion. Assuming no divisions will never fly, having 2 divisions with 2 wild cards gets more teams in, and will normally get the 4 best teams in.

    No changes are likely to happen until the next expansion though – when there can be 4, 8-team divisions.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Why do we need wild cards?

      I guess that’s the one thing I do not understand.

      Why should the 2nd place team go to the playoffs when they have already been shown to be inferior to the team that won their division?

      I understand the idea from an NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA perspective, but they play 16, 82, 82, 13(FB) and 30(Basketball), games per season.

      Baseball plays 162 games, and that is far long enough to decide which team has won the division and deserves to go to the playoffs.

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    • Mr. Red says:

      I would love to see 4, 8-team divisions with the winners going to the playoffs to duke it off in the league championship series and World Series. However, I don’t think MLB is going to be able to convince fans that a playoff contraction is a good thing.

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  26. Sox2727 says:

    Let’s be realistic here, expanding and putting 2 more teams in the league to create 8 (4)team divisions just isn’t a good idea. Diluting the talent pool by adding more teams is not the answer, and do we want the playoffs going until mid-November? Face it, until there is a salary cap nothing will change.

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  27. dennis says:

    al west laa tex oak sea kan min chw milw

    al east nny bos tap balt tor det clev buffalo expansion team

    nl west col arz lad sd sf hou stl chc

    nl east phi nym atl cin pitts wash fla jacksville fl expansion team

    play the teams in division 24 games each for a total of 168 games and only the division winners would be in the playoffs the league champship series would be 5 out of 9 games and the ws , al so not likey a team with a 86-82 record would win their divisions sense all regular season games would be played in division

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