Realignment and Expanded Playoffs Update

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baseball will be making major changes in the next two years -- adding two teams to the playoffs, moving the Houston Astros to the American League and extending interleague play to September.

The expanded playoffs could come as early as next year. That will put 10 teams in the postseason, requiring a new wild-card playoff round that probably will be one game, winner take all.

As a condition for approving the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane, the Astros agreed to shift from the NL Central to the AL West as soon as 2013, giving each league 15 teams. It's baseball's first realignment since the Milwaukee Brewers went to the NL after the 1997 season.

If I were an Astros fan, I'd be a bit bummed. Alas, I am not an Astros fan. Therefore, I'm okay and borderline happy with the future realignment. I like balance, and having 15 teams in each league, with each division having exactly five teams is nice. I also don't mind the perpetual interleague play that will be required with an odd number of teams in each league.

As for the expanded playoffs with another wild card team? I'm for that too. Hell, the Marlins seem like they never want to win a division title, so having more wild card entries improves our chances of making the playoffs.

Dave and I discussed this before, when this was just a rumor (here and here) and pretty much the same holds true now. In brief:
  1. Rewards division winners
  2. Punishes wild card teams, subjecting them to luck of a one game playoff and wasting their best pitcher before the division series
  3. Pennant races better, more incentive to get higher seed and win division
  4. One game playoffs are fun and uber-exciting.


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