Top of the 6th Inning: Home Field Advantage
Editor’s Note: Doug believes baseball is broken and would like to fix it. He plans to discuss an issue a week for the coming weeks. Read here for the topics he plans to help baseball fix.
NASCAR and the PGA Tour both realized just how far behind they are versus the NFL. Although they haven’t found a solution, they dramatically altered they’re post-seasons in order to generate any kind of buzz during the middle of football season. Let the NFL own November-February. It’s time for baseball to establish itself as King of September.
The first 5 innings of my attempt to save baseball focused on streamlining the game by eliminating the financial advantages of big market clubs without instituting a salary cap, making the rules uniform across the game, and increasing playoff opportunities for every team despite eliminating the wild card.
In the 6th inning I want to do two things: establish how baseball should be but also improve the playoffs if I’m stuck working within the confines already in place.
In case the 6th inning blog is the first one you’ve had the opportunity to read, I’ve created 8 four-team divisions by expanding to Brooklyn and Portland. I’ve completely realigned the divisions along geographic lines with no regard to American or National League. This creates a division with Brooklyn, the Mets, Yankees and the Boston Red Sox fighting each other for the division championship.
With the Wild Card eliminated, the only chance to make the playoffs is to win your division. However, with only three teams of similar market-size to compete against, if your team doesn’t make the playoffs there’s no one else to blame.
In the new MLB, only the four division winners of each league make the playoffs. The playoffs would be seeded 1-4. There would still be two playoff rounds before the World Series with the #1 seed playing the #4 and the #2 against the #3. Since that’s not enough incentive to keep teams playing and competing throughout the end of the season I’ve got an extra carrot.
There would be a tremendous bonus to earning the number one seed as the team with the best overall record in each of the two leagues: GAME 5.
I have always thought that Game 5 is the most important game of a 7 game series. Either you’re clinching the series if it’s already 3-1 or you’re forcing your opponent to go on a two-game post-season winning streak if you’re now up 3-2.
Where is it written that one team has to have 3 post-season home games? Making the playoffs was your reward for being the best team in your division. I want to reward the best team in the league with an extra home game.
The #1 v #4 series immediately becomes more difficult for an upset because the #1 seed has earned it. Games 1 and 2 are at the #1 seed. Games 3 and 4 move to the #4 seed. Games 5-7 are all at the home of the one seed. Yes this is a tremendous advantage and that’s exactly why I’m rewarding the one seed. The other playoff series is the standard 2-3-2 format.
Every single playoff spot comes with a major incentive. If you’re the #4 seed, yes you made it but it’s going to be tough to get past the #1. If you’re the #3, you were able to hold off the #4 during the regular season and avoid less post-season home games as a penalty but you’re still on the road at the #2. The #2 seed earned home-field in the first round so it’s a reward for having a better regular season record than the #3 but the #2 missed out on an extra home game it could have earned.
Now you can’t be the best team in the world without being the best team in your division. At the same time, being the best team in your league actually means something more than just winning a special number by your name. If the #4 seed thinks it’s unfair, then be more about “bi-winning” next season.