Well its that time of year for the Major League Baseball playoffs. People are talking about the Twins-White Sox game that happened today. Twins fans are complaining that they had to play the game in Chicago when they had a better head to head record than the White Sox. Well I think it is time for the professional sports leagues to consider altering their playoff formats.
Baseball takes 8 teams to the post season every year. How many years though are the 8 teams that go to the playoffs the 8 best teams in baseball though? Well this year I can tell you that it wasn't split evenly. Before today's game with the Sox and Twins the 8 best teams record wise were Angels at 100 wins, Cubs at 97, Rays at 97, Red Sox at 95, Philies at 92, Brewers at 90, Mets at 89, and the Twins and White Sox at 88. So we would have still needed a tie breaker for the Twins and Sox. Well the Sox won that game so we would say they are in.
Instead of making a National League/American League playoffs the teams should just be seeded 1-8 and let them go at it. It would alter the traditional, but hey its the 21st Centuray lets get with the program and keep moving forward. We would be treated to first round matchups this year that would include. Angels vs. White Sox, Cubs vs Mets, Rays vs. Brewers, Sox vs. Philies. I think all those series would be better matchups than what we are going to have out of the first round now. It would make the All-Star game truely an exhibition game again. Oh well the Dodgers would be out with the Mets would be in. At least that way its the 8 best teams in baseball being rewarded, and not a mediocre division champ like we have in the Dodgers.
Lets look at how the landscape would have been different for the NBA now. Playoff teams would have been:
Boston with 66 Detroit with 59
Lakers with 57 New Orleans with 56
San Antonio with 56 Houston with 55
Pheonix with 55 Utah with 54
Orlando with 52 Dallas with 51
Denver with 50 Golden St with 48
Cleveland with 45 Washington with 43
Portland with 41 Toronto with 41
This line up of the top 16 teams by record in the NBA would have left out teams that made the playoff with losing records such as Atlanta and Philly and included teams with .500 records or better Golden State and Portland.
First round matchups if teams were seeded 1-16 would have given matchups like:
Boston vs. Toronto Detroit vs. Portland Lakers vs. Washington
Hornets vs. Cleveland Spurs vs. Warriors Rockets vs. Nuggets
Suns vs Mavericks Jazz vs Magic.
Rewarding losing teams by giving them playoff births while winning teams stay home because they are in strong conferences is mind boggling to me because the playoffs are there to reward the best teams and give the best teams a shot at the championship. How can the NBA have the 16 best teams in the playoffs if there was 2 teams with losing records in the Eastern Conference in the playoff while 2 teams were at 500 or better from the Western Conference sitting at home. So what it may not be Eastern vs. Western Conferences in the Finals 7 game series should end making the two best teams in the league in the finals which by record this year would have been Boston vs. Detroit going by the records.
Now I am going to try it with the NHL last year and see what the differences would have been.
Detroit with 115 San Jose with 108 Montreal with 104 Pittsburgh with 102
Anaheim with 102 New Jersey with 99 Minnesota with 98 Rangers with 97
Dallas with 97 Philly with 95 Colorado with 95 Washington with 94
Ottawa with 94 Calgary with 94 Boston with 94 Carolina with 92
This wouldn't affect the NHL as much as the other leagues as the switch would be Carlina in with Nashville out. The Matchups though would be drastically different with:
Detroit vs. Carolina San Jose vs. Boston Montreal vs. Calgary Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa
Anaheim vs. Washington New Jersey vs. Colorado Minnesota vs. Philly Rangers vs. Dallas
There would end up being some across the country travel but I think the matchups in the first round are better than the ones we had and could generate a lot more excitement for hockey fans.
Now I am going to see how the NFL playoff would shake down using my idea using last year as an example. The only difference would have been the Browns would have been rewarded for their 10-6 record and be in while the Redskins and their 9-7 record would have been out. Using my matchup idea though lets see how the first round pairings would have changed.
Seeding based on record would look like this:
Under the current format the Pats, Cowboys, Colts, and Packers would have had the first round bye just like last year. The WildCard matchups would have been. Tampa vs. San Diego, Browns vs. Jaguars, Giants vs. Steeler, and Titans vs. Seahawks. The lowest remaining seeded team then goes on to play Patriots, second lowest goes on to play Cowboys, third lowest goes to Indy, and the fourth lowest would go to Green Bay. This to me would add suspence and intrigue to the playoffs as it would no longer be AFC vs. NFC in the Super Bowl. Well it could be but its not a certainty. I think it would be a lot of fun for the fans as well as the players.
Tie breakers for teams with identical records would be in order division champ or not, head to head matchup, conference record, division record, then lastly records against same opponents. I think it would be interesting thats for sure. Plus it puts the 12 best teams in football against each other. Thats the way playoffs should be. The NFL doesn't have as big a problem as the other leagues do with it in my opinion. My sample size was just last year but I am sure if I went back even further I could have found years that would have been drastically different as far as what teams went to the playoffs especially in basketball. I welcome all comments from those that agree and disagree. Just keep it civil and intelligent.