What in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on with Major League Baseball‘s new postseason format during the the Division League Series? Who thought it was a good idea to let the winning team of home-field advantage begin the series on the road? What kind of home-field advantage has the team with the better record of the two involved in the series having to play the first two games of that series on the road while hearing the sounds of boos and constant heckling?
Thanks to the revamped Wild Card system that the MLB implemented this season, this is exactly what the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds had to deal with this postseason. Sure, they have more games inside of their stadiums then their opponents the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants (respectively) have at their home fields. But isn’t half of the reason there is a such thing called home-field advantage for the team that has it to attempt to get the series off to a good start in front of their fans?
The idea of the the additional Wild Card team in each league along with the Wild Card game to determine which two of the four teams would be eligible to join the division winners in the postseason tournament was completely ingenious. However, the idea to let the home-field advantage winners begin the series on the road for two games and then have three games at home was completely asinine.
What if a situation occurs where the team with the “home-field advantage” loses the first two games on the road and then is put in a 0-2 hole to dig out of an elimination situation in their first home game of the series? That’s not a what if situation, it is the reality that Oakland is in now following a season where they fought hard to earn their “home-field advantage”. The A’s put together arguably one of the greatest second halves in MLB history just to track down, catch, pass the Texas Rangers on the last day of the regular season and how are they rewarded? By being forced to start off their first (and possibly only) playoff series on the road against the Tigers in a pitchers’ park (Comerica Park) against last season’s Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander, this year’s lead MVP candidate, as well as first Triple Crown Winner in 45 years Miguel Cabrera and their Tigers. Who really wants “home-field advantage” if that’s what the reward is?
There is an exact opposite situation going on in the National League, where the Reds have gone to San Francisco and beat the Giants in the first two games of the series to take a 2-0 lead, so they get to head back to Cincinnati to close out their series with three chances at home. That was remarkable for the Reds to win the first two on the road in that series. Now let’s say the Reds win game three and sweep the Giants. That would mean that their fans would have only gotten a chance to see one home game inside of the Great American Ballpark in the opening round of the 2012 MLB postseason. Is that fair to them? Once again the “home-field advantage” proves to be a disadvantage, maybe not to the players in this case, but definitely to the fans.
Next season, this cannot happen and it should not happen, Bud Selig. Who cares about the fact that there were some travel days done away with due to this format? These guys are professional athletes and half of their year is spent traveling across the country, so what difference is two extra trips going to truly make? You guys haves done a masterful job with the postseason since realignment and the addition of the Wild Card originally in 1995, but you guys screwed up big time with this one here. So fix it and fix it now so that way by the time next postseason rolls around, you won’t have columnists like me on the attack. Instead, we’ll just returning to praising what a great job you’ve done with the postseason format.