For the lack of a better term, the 2020 season for Major League Baseball was a hawt mess. In addition to the pandemic that is still raging across the world and the bungling of negotiations with the player’s union last year, Rob Manfred’s office decided it was time to institute some rather interesting rule changes for the shortened sixty-game season. Few were generally welcomed (universal DH, for example) while others (runner on second to start extra innings, expanded playoff field) were primarily met with negative feedback.
In terms of the expanded playoffs, the field was set at 16 teams between the AL and NL, which was more than half of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Eight teams from each league with the division winners seeded at 1-3 and the second-place clubs as the 4-6 seeds followed by two clubs with the next best records as the 7-8 seeds. The expanded field alone is the reason why the 29-31 Astros qualified for a postseason berth in 2020, much to the consternation of the baseball world outside of Houston.
(For some reason, people are also quick to forget that the 2019 Nationals, who won the World Series against Houston that year, started the season with a 27-33 record in their first sixty games.)
Although the Astros qualified for a postseason berth due to the new rule, I personally wasn’t a fan of the change. For one, I think it could disincentivize teams from actually caring even more about the regular season if that was somehow even possible. While a 16-team field would increase postseason revenue, we would see more teams “coast” to October with the regular season holding little importance. Also, due to the generally unpredictable nature of a baseball postseason, the best teams still aren’t guaranteed a better chance at a title. It remains impressive how the two number one seeds in the Dodgers and Rays actually met in the World Series this year, although the Braves and Astros gave both clubs a scare in the league championship series. From the results of the survey below, it appears there weren’t many fans in support of the new postseason format as well.
But the pressing question for the 2021 season is whether a full season — or even a somewhat longer session than sixty games — can occur with a pandemic still out there. Potential complications remain and it could throw any season into disarray as it did last year. An expanded playoff field could remain a reality for one more year under that scenario. Let’s just say that fans are a bit more understanding of that possibility in 2021, but hold firm in their belief that the expanded field should only be a two-year adjustment.
So, how many teams do you want to see in the postseason?
How about all thirty?! That’ll surely stop tanking, right?
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