The good and the bad of the new MLB playoff format
We all know the wild card concept in MLB was one of the worst ideas ever. We all know what it did. Makes the post season too long, makes winning the division meaningless, etc. But here we will focus on what bad the play-in game does. Chipper Jones said earlier in the year that it would be unfair to the Braves to play a one game playoff against a team they were 7 games ahead of. He was right, of course. It is patently unfair. So once again, the added playoff waters down the achievements of the regular season. Of course, we are talking about two teams who didn't win their division to begin with so watering down their so-called "achievements" isn't really all that bad a thing.
The play in game was meant to give division winning teams a sort of bye when it comes to the post season. Their reward for finishing first was not having to go through the dice roll of the one game. Further, it meant that the 2nd place playoff team would not get a chance to set up their pitching rotation like the division winner does. However, MLB screwed up the schedule. There is still a day off between the play in game and the beginning of their first playoff series. This gives that wild card team a chance to get back in the swing of things. Further, while participating in that play in game is something most teams would want to avoid, the team that wins that game will have the advantage of confidence heading into their next round. Not a team you want to face in your opening round.
Believe it or not, there was something good that came out of this. For some reason no one has ever been able to explain the #4 wild card team was not allowed to play a team from it's same division in the opening round. This never made sense. Fortunately, that has stopped. Same division teams are now allowed to play each other in the opening round. The other good thing is MLB returned to the 2-3 playoff format. This is particularly good for the series with the two division winners. Not so good, however, for the team with the best record facing the winner of the play in game. That series desperately needs to be 2-2-1 at the very least. If not 2-1-2 or even having all 5 games on the division winners field. Unfortunately, there is talk that MLB will be returning to the 2-2-1 format beginning as soon as next season.... Odd because if that was what they wanted why did they use the 2-3 format to begin with?
So the end result is... The extra round doesn't really make the post season better but it doesn't make it any worse than it already is. The real damage was already done back in 1994. Dropping a 2nd nuke on the target doesn't really inflict much more damage than the first one did.