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In yesterday's game the Rays led from the start, and never trailed. Yet it was a damn exciting game because both teams were in it and it was an elimination game for both teams. Never mind that it was between the 4th and 5th best teams in the AL - is it often that the three best teams are the three division winners?* - or that we probably all felt going into the game that the Rangers would find a way to lose nonetheless. It was a great game.
the need for larger samples to prove quality, etc.
This year would have had four excellent races with the old divisions: Tigers/Red Sox/Rays/Orioles/Yankees/Indians in the AL East; A's/Rangers in the AL West;
Honestly, if we must have ?30 teams playing in essentially the same league, I'd prefer expansion to 32, strongly imbalanced schedules, and eight 4-team winner-take-all divisions.
If the schedule were imbalanced enough, you'd avoid ?.500 champions for the most part, and there would probably be as many interesting races in September as in any other format, heightened by the concentration of play in small, even-number-sized divisions (you could do what the 1969-92 National League used to do, and play the last few weeks of the season entirely intradivision). Regional interest would go up, and also you could still have some interdivision and interconference play so that the Yankees and Red Sox got around the league once every few years.
My God, I've just described the NFL (except for the wild cards and bye weeks) … but you have to admit they're better at basic arithmetic than Bud and his boys.
Reiterating, the MLB postseason structure never had as a conscious design identifying the "best" team.
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