AL: one game, example 1948 Indians - Red Sox
NL: best of three games, examples:
1946 Dodgers - Cardinals
1951 Dodgers - Giants
1959 Dodgers - Braves
1962 Dodgers - Giants
Then came expansion and eventually in 1969 two divisions in each league through 1993. The division winners would play a series (best of five 1969-1984, then best of seven) then play in the World Series.
There was a tie for the division:
1978 Yankees - Red Sox; Ron Guidry won his 25th game
In 1994 a third division was added in each "league". The 1994 season was not completed and there was no post season play.
1995 through 2011 four teams in each "league" qualified for the post season tournament: three division winners and the best second place team.
Randomness of Wild Cards. Friday, June 8, 2018
2012 was the first season with two wild card (WC) teams in each "league". Having five teams in a division playing 162 games is moronic.
The NBA (National Basketball Association) had been doing this for decades: play about half as many games as major league baseball (82 to 162 in recent years) and then when the season was over suddenly break into a tournament.
In recent seasons the NBA in each conference has eight teams qualify for its tournament: three division winners plus five additional teams. But they are simply seeded in each of its two conferences by wins, ignoring three division winners.
In the major baseball "leagues" division winners qualify and are seeded ahead of two additional "wild card" teams.
For instance in the very first season of two additional "wild card" teams, 2012, the AL had this absurdity:
The Detroit Tigers not only qualified with the seventh most wins but then went on to reach the finals, where they mercifully lost to the Giants, who had the third most NL wins.
So far since 2012 the only season in which two teams in the same "league" had at least 100 wins was:
Those teams were in different divisions. The Indians lost to the Yankees in round one. The Yankees then lost to the Astros, who went on to defeat the Dodgers in the finals.
But in 2018 the best records are:
TWO divisions could have two teams with at least 100 wins.
For some bizarre reason teams that tie for the division lead must play one additional game to determine the division winner. The loser would then play the wild card game to qualify for round one.
In this scenario, BOTH wild card teams would have more than 100 wins. And that would be way more than the number of wins of the other division winner. Currently: Indians with 49 wins.
To make it more ridiculous, the Yankees play their final three games in Fenway Park Boston against the Red Sox September 28, 29, 30. Just hope none are rained out.
The Astros finish with three games in Baltimore, where games are also played outdoors.
The Mariners finish at home in Seattle with four against Texas September 27-30. The Mariners have a retractable roof, which is currently operational.
Imagine trying to decide how to schedule your best starting pitchers. Let's say Chris Sale of the Red Sox and Luis Severino of the Yankees. Might one or both of the teams decide it's better to risk losing a final deciding game to have their ace rested? But what if that game decides that the teams finish in a tie? Then it's:
- one game to decide the division
- one wild card game.
The division tie should NOT be decided by playing an additional game. It's just too debilitating. Plus, there's the possibility of tanking. What a tangled web.