This idea has been floating around in my mind for about a month since bestbostonsports made a fanpost about changing the playoff format.
Before I start, no, this is not actually a serious idea (so sorry to disappoint)
Alright, here's the idea:
We add 4 more playoff teams, but they aren't (necessarily) chosen based on record. How <i>are</i> they chosen, then, you ask? The fans get to vote for them, just like the All-Star Game, of course!
Two teams from each league get chosen through online balloting as "Expositional teams" in new LES (League Expositional Series), a 5-game series right before the LDS begin. Under this format, four teams from each league are already in the playoffs (3 division winners and a wild card), and are seeded like now (best record vs. worst non-division playoff team, and the other 2). However, before the ALDS and NLDS, the team from each series with the lowest record plays a series against one of the Expositional teams (best record between the 2 playoff teams vs. the lowest record between the 2 expositional teams, and the other 2).
Here's the kicker: The 2 most popular teams in each league are not guaranteed playoff spots under this format. Every fan is allowed to vote for the expositional teams, and there are 8 teams-worth of fans who don't need to support their own team in the voting, which means that they can all vote for other teams. Naturally, they will have their own preferred match-ups in the ALES and NLES, and they can even get together with the fans of other teams (I am assuming that blogs such as PA will serve as "parties" in this) to all vote for the same match-up. To take this year as an example:
ALDS: Texas vs. Tampa Bay, NYY vs. Minnesota
NLDS: Philadelphia vs. Cincinnati, San Francisco vs. Atlanta
In each league, Tampa Bay, NYY, Philadelphia, and San Francisco would receive "byes" through the first round, while Texas, Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Atlanta would all have to play 5-game series against another opponent first.
Tampa Bay and NYY fans would want to vote for teams which could (presumably) defeat Texas and Minnesota, or at the very least bruise them up a bit. At the same time, they'd have to be teams which Tampa and NYY could defeat in the ALDS should those teams win the ALES. (And of course Philadelphia and San Francisco would want the same in the other league)
Texas and Minnesota, on the other hand (and Cincinnati and Atlanta), would want to face weak teams that they could beat easily.
Hence, for TB and NY, the ideal expositional teams would be something like, say, the Blue Jays and Tigers. On the other side, the ideal expositional teams for Texas and Minnesota would be the Royals and either Orioles or Mariners.
As a result, assuming that every other fan base votes for its own team, it would come down to which of the playoff teams could organize their support most effectively for their preferred match up. Tampa Bay and New York fans may team up (again, through blogs like PA) to cast their support behind Toronto and Detroit; Texas and Minnesota might do the same with Kansas City and Seattle.
I can see 3 main benefits to this (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) idea:
- It gives 4 more teams a chance to play in the postseason (with all the attending financial benefits thereof)
- It gives the fans of the postseason teams something to rally behind (apart from, you know, their own team)
- There's always the chance the Fightin' Showalters will somehow make an improbable run to the World Series against the Fightin' Harpers in the first-ever "Beltway Battle of Buffoonery!" between last-place teams.
Well, I hope you like my idea (in a funny way, not necessarily a "OMG WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT NEXT POSTSEASON!!!!!" way).