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Thoughts on Olney’s Playoff Plan

By Mike Silva ~ December 13th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

Buster Olney of ESPN believes MLB should go back to the pre 1969 format and just have two leagues: The American League and the National League (subscription required).

Under his plan the top five teams in each league would get playoff berths. This would negate some of the yearly advantage that big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox enjoy. He specifically laments how difficult it is for Toronto, Baltimore, and Tampa to compete in a division with two powerhouse teams.

I have said before that both Tampa and Toronto would have much more success if they resided in the Central or West the last decade. Perhaps Mets assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi would still be the Jays general manager.

The five 2010 playoff teams in each league under Olney’s plan would be:

American League


National League

San Francisco
San Diego

There would be some added drama as the White Sox would battle Boston for the last playoff spot. The Cardinals would have an outside chance at making the playoffs in Olney’s system as well.

My only question is what happens to the team that wins the league? Do they sit around till the other four complete their round robin? Best of 3 first round, Best of 7 second round, and then best of 7 league championship? That could conceivable be two idle weeks for the team that wins the regular season pennant. Not sure if that is a good thing either.

I agree with Olney that more playoff teams are necessary to offset the huge regular season advantage that Boston and the Yankees enjoy. Instead of just two leagues I would prefer going back to the old East/West format, and do it correctly this time. That means Chicago and St. Louis would be in the West, while Atlanta plays in the East. Scheduling would have to be adjusted, but that doesn’t appear to be a huge deal.

The top three teams in each division would make the playoffs, while the division winner receives a buy. The second and third place team in each division plays a best of three, and the survivor plays the division winner for the right to go to the championship series.

It’s not as radical as a plan I proposed a while back which would require eliminating the National and American League. I also believe there should be some consideration of moving teams to better markets. I believe Portland, Las Vegas, and even Puerto Rico would be viable markets. It’s time evaluate, regardless of realignment, if cities like Tampa, Pittsburgh, Oakland, and even Toronto are viable for baseball anymore.

It appears change is coming in 2012, and I believe it should be more radical than just simply adding another two playoff teams.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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5 Responses to Thoughts on Olney’s Playoff Plan

  1. Mister D

    If more playoff teams are needed to counteract the Yankees and Red Sox, why are we looking to add them to the National League as well?

  2. Rick

    As a Mets fan transplant living in Toronto, it’s ridiculously unfair to lump the city in with Tampa and Pittsburgh. This isn’t Montreal where they’re struggling to draw 5,000 to a weeknight game, or Tampa where they have to beg fans to show up during a pennant race. This is a major metropolitan center with solid fans and solid crowds.

    Case in point: everyone could’ve packed up and stayed home after they traded local god Halladay. But since they fielded a competitive team, even if it had no legit shot at the division, let alone a wild card, people came out and backed what they felt was a solid and entertaining club. Considering the sparse and cynical crowds the past few times I’ve gotten to come back and catch a game at Citi, I wonder how packed our stadium would’ve been if the situations were reversed…

  3. paulH

    As sad as I feel for saying this, contraction should be part of the answer. Oh Oh, look out, here comes the MLB Union. True, some MLB players would wind up at AAA – but, most would still have MLB jobs. First, expand each teams roster by 3 (25 to 28 and 40 to 43). Lower the salary structure to figure in the additional players on each team. I won’t mention who should be shut down because everyone reading this has a good idea. Conduct a draft with the teams with the worst record picking first etc. Draft ALL players, including those in the contracted teams systems. Let’s say 2 teams are moved to other cities and 2 are contracted. If it creates an imbalance in the leagues, move a team from one league to the other. Sadder to say, it would be hard to picture Pittsburgh without a MLB team, given their great history. Oh well, just an idea.

  4. Stu B

    Just like a salary cap, contraction will never happen – too much money and vested interest against it. They need to be more creative than that.

  5. Mike Silva

    Stu is correct.

    Hard for the owners to cry poverty with the spending we have seen this offseason. There is no Montreal Expos in this league right now, even the Pirates are making money if you believe the “leaked documents.”

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