Two-division format in MLB starting to grow on me

As I think I’ve blogged about before, I am completely opposed to any playoff expansion in Major League Baseball. It’s an idea that’s getting some serious consideration from Bud Selig, despite many in baseball complaining that the season is too long the way it is.

It seems to me the obvious reason – besides money – is baseball trying to find a way to give the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles some hope that they can make the playoffs consistently rather than hoping to time their success with down years by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. To me, that’s avoiding the real problem, but I don’t want to get sidetracked.

But let’s face it: MLB has no plans to curtail the Yankees’ free-spending ways. So if the hope is to give Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles fans hope, I’m starting to become a supporter of a return to the two-division format that baseball had up until the mid-1990s.

Paul Swydan of FanGraphs got me thinking about it to begin with. When I first read his write-up – link to Part 1 here – I quickly dismissed it. “It’s too OUT there,” I thought. And honestly, it is out there. It will never happen when there’s money to be made on a potential one-game playoff between the No. 4 and 5 seeds of each league every year.

But I believe the season is long enough, and I don’t think a one-game playoff is any way to decide what team should advance when they’ve had 162 games to figure it out themselves, unless of course those two teams are tied after 162 and a one-game playoff is necessary. I realize it’s great drama, as we all say in 2009. But let’s leave that alone.

If MLB returned to a two-division format, the AL Central and NL Central go away. The Yankees and Red Sox could remain in the AL East, but a third team from that league could potentially get a playoff berth every year if that team fared better than the second-best team in the AL West. And there’s always the possibility the Yankees and/or Red Sox don’t make the playoffs.

The idea – far-fetched as it is – is growing on me.