Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Postseason and How It Works 10/2/14

Hey baseball fans!

With the MLB postseason already here (and two teams already eliminated), I want to teach you about how the postseason works because, over the years, a lot has changed about it.

From 1903 (the first World Series) to 1968, there was only one division per league. So, back then, the best team in the American League faced off against the best National League team in the World Series. Starting in 1969, the playoffs became two rounds: a round to decide the winner of each league and the World Series. This playoff format was needed because the leagues were getting too big for one division. In the first year that this kind of postseason was implemented, the '69 Mets won it all.

The two-round playoff format stood until 1981, a season that was split into two halves due to a mid-season strike. Major League Baseball decided that for that year, there would be an extra round to start the playoffs. This extra first round featured the division winners from the first half of the season against the division winners from the second half. From there, the playoffs were the same. Although the MLB went back to the two-round postseason the next year, the three-round postseason would come up again in the near future.

By 1994, there were too many expansion teams for just two divisions per league, so the MLB created three of them per league: the East, Central, and West. This caused a problem with the playoff format because you need an even number of teams per league in the playoffs. Thus, the Wild Card team was implemented into the postseason. The Wild Card is the team with the best record in each league that did not win a division. For example, the first AL team to win the Wild Card was the Yankees in 1995 (1994 was cut short due to another strike and the '94 playoffs were cancelled). They didn't win the AL East, but they did win 79 games, the most of any team that didn't win a division in the American League. (79 games does seem like a low win total, I know, but the first part of the '95 campaign was cut off because of the strike that started in 1994.)

So we've gone from just a World Series to a League Championship Series and a World Series to a Division Series, League Championship Series, and a World Series. Would you believe that there has been another round added to the MLB postseason? In 2012, the Wild Card playoff was added to the postseason. The Wild Card playoff features the two best teams in each league that didn't win their respective division in a one-game round that decides which team will go on to face the team with the best record in each league. The San Francisco Giants just won the 2014 NL Wild Card playoff against the Pittsburgh Pirates, so they will face the Washington Nationals, the team with the best record in the National League, in the National League Division Series.

So, just to reiterate, the 2014 playoffs have four rounds: a one-game Wild Card playoff (which has already happened), a best-of-five Division Series, a best-of-seven League Championship Series, and a best-of-seven World Series. Anyway, I hope I didn't confuse you with the postseason format and thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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