New MLB Postseason Format Made Baseball… Exciting?

The MLB kicked off its postseason last week, debuting a new playoff format. Instead of the usual five teams from the American League (AL) and five teams from the National League (NL), the MLB decided to allow eight teams from each league to play in a tournament-style playoff. Many of these teams had a solid pre-playoff season. Some, like the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers, were below .500 entering the postseason, meaning they had lost more games than they won. Regardless, as we watched the first round, we were, once again, excited by playoff baseball.

The Wild Card Series took place over four days, with the AL starting a day before the NL. This created a day where baseball fans were blessed with 13 hours of nonstop baseball. On Wednesday, the Braves-Reds noon game, which started a marathon of playoff baseball, was one of the most fun games of the day. It took 13 innings for either team to put a run on the board, setting the tone for the day ahead. The day ended with a rollercoaster of a game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians, where the Yankees were able to escape Cleveland with a 10-9 win. The game was intense, with the lead changing inning by inning. By the end of the second day, playoff baseball gave us everything this season was missing: edge-of-your-seat excitement.

The Yankees beating the Indians is just one of the few upsets from the Wild Card Series. The six seeds from both leagues were able to beat their opponents: the Houston Astros took down the Minnesota Twins and the Miami Marlins took down the Chicago Cubs. The MLB correctly predicted that this new playoff format would make these upsets more exciting; given the shortened season, the success teams saw during the regular season didn’t significantly vary. Upsets were highly likely and predictable. They weren’t exciting, they just happened. 

While this format is only in effect for the abridged 2020 season, I wouldn’t be surprised if these playoffs were used again in the future. The 13-hour baseball marathon was the MLB’s version of March Madness, and it was captivating, all-engrossing and simply beautiful. If this happens every year, baseball fans will be glued to their screens. It will be the baseball version of the Super Bowl; something the MLB desperately needs.

The next round will take place at remote sites to create multiple mini-MLB bubbles. The top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays will be playing their rival New York Yankees in a five-game series in San Diego. The Astros will be taking on the Oakland Athletics in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be playing the San Diego Padres in Arlington, Texas. Lastly, the Marlins will be facing off with their division-rival the Braves in Houston. 

It’s still any team’s game. And I will be glued to the screen, waiting to see where each series takes us.