YOU TALKIN’ TO ME – OCTOBER 9
By ISM Staff

DO PRO SPORTS NEED TO SEED THEIR PLAYOFFS BY RECORD INSTEAD OF BY DIVISION CHAMPIONS

Men, and I’m talkin’ to all of you again but specifically to Brooklyn because he and I are old school when it comes to sports, this would be a radical change from what any of the professional sports leagues have done in the past.  With that being said, and with what has transpired in Major League Baseball this season, there needs to be playoff seeding and here’s why.

Let’s start with the obvious one that is consuming the air waves at the present time and that’s MLB.  The National League West champion Giants, with 107 wins, are taking on the Dodgers, winners of 106 games, after emerging with a Wild Card victory with a walk off homer to defeat the Cardinals, who by the way only won 90 contest, by a 3-1 count.

With that being said, here’s the scenario that will be played out.  The two best teams, record wise, in The Big Leagues will start a best-of-5 series in San Francisco while the other side of the NL slate,  Atlanta, with 88 victories, travels to Milwaukee, sporting 95 wins, for their best of five set.

As you have probably already surmised, those two teams are woefully short of the century mark for triumphs.  Both are double digits behind the Dodgers with the Brewers 11 wins shy of LA and the Braves 19 victories to the south of Los Angeles.

OK, let’s back up one year to the National Football League for another example.  The NFC East was a dumpster fire with Washington emerging as the division champ with 7-9 log.  That secured the DC Gang a home game against the Wild Card Bucs at 11-5.

In fact, the only reason the Burgundy & Gold made it into the NFL playoffs was winning the NFC Least.  If it were strictly on record, Arizona would have secured the final Wild Card position with an 8-8 record and Washington would have stayed home watching the NFL second season.

Now, Big Apple Guy and South Beach Fella and Nor’easter Buddy, here’s my problem. How do you fix this if you’re going to make such a radical change? Do you ignore division champs and just seed the teams with best record?  Do you let the division winners in but do not reward them with a home game?

So, my colleagues, I am really talkin’ to you for help.  If you agree with me, then how does this get accomplished?  Your thoughts, please?

OK, I think we can agree that pro sports will continue to evolve.  Heck, the DH is coming sooner than later to the National League, and then why have two separate leagues at that point?  I can see that there are ways to make stronger regional divisions, but we must maintain some semblance of sanity and give division winners a benefit for winning.

Regardless of the game, Low Ball, winning a division should have significant benefits.  The Dodgers had to play a one-game playoff despite winning over 100 games because they didn’t win the division.  The Giants happened to win one more game.  Despite being tough, it seems fair and competitive to me.

Without the benefits that go along with winning a division, would there be a general lack of competition that follows?  Teams would be content in making the playoffs and potentially rest players or even offer less effort to prepare for games that they believe would be more important.

Gang, I know I’m a traditionalist, and I know things are changing all the time in the games we love, but keeping divisions and benefits of winnings are such an institution in our professional sports.  For that reason alone, they should not be altered in any way.

Fellas, every season for most sports, it seems like one of the best teams in most leagues has to start the playoffs at a disadvantage because someone in their division has a better record than them. Obviously, from that perspective alone, that’s fair and how it should be. But isn’t it just a little unfair for that team to have a worse playoff position than the teams who won their weaker divisions and don’t have as good of a record.

The Dodgers are the perfect example of a team getting screwed over by determining the playoffs by divisions rather than records. The Dodgers had the second best record in baseball with 106 wins but had to play a wild card game because the only team with a better record than them just happened to be the Giants who play in their division. A 106 win team has absolutely no business playing a one-game playoff as their initial contest to start the postseason to determine their entire season. After the Dodgers beat the surging Cardinals in walk-off fashion, the Dodgers are currently in the midst of a series with the top-seeded Giants in the divisional round. How is this fair for the Dodgers, especially when an 88 win Braves team doesn’t have to play a wild card game and is matched up with the Brewers, who also have a worse record than the Dodgers.

Over the years, there have been plenty of good teams that have had to deal with this disadvantage while other teams having mediocre seasons reaped the benefits of how the standings are done. This is especially relevant, and in my opinion most aggravating, when teams in the National Football League who have a sub .500 record in winning their division and earn a playoff spot while a team with 10 or more triumphs gets left out of the playoffs because of how the playoffs are seeded. Teams with more losses than wins shouldn’t even be allowed to play in the playoffs, and this method of seeding will help prevent most of those teams from earning a spot in the playoffs while giving a much more deserving team a chance to make a postseason run.

Therefore I do think it’s time for all professional sports teams to follow in the footsteps of the NBA and determine playoff seedings by a team’s record rather than how they finish in their division. Adjusting the seeding ensures that the best teams play the most important games of the season when the most fans are watching.