Playoff formats must change

Everybody growing up loving and watching pro sports knows about divisions, conferences, leagues, etc. We know it like the back of our hand. It’s all we know as far as playoff seedings are concerned and how good or terrible teams are.

Yeah, well, it’s time for a change.

Recent talks from NBA commissioner Adam Silver is that the league wants a new format.

Good.

Recent talks suggest that the top 8 teams in each conference will be combined and seeded 1-16.

Bad. Really, really bad.

I do not believe in divisions, but conferences exist for a reason. It’s fun watching the East vs. West, and they do not play that often. Just twice a year plus the NBA Finals.

It’s like LeBron James said: it’s fine to tweek the All-Star game, but don’t go too crazy with the playoffs. That still doesn’t mean improvements can be made.

Here we go:

NBA AND NHL

FORMATS

First, get rid of the divisions. Now you have 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 16 in the Western Conference. The top 8 eight teams in each conference make the playoffs, seeded 1-8 based on best records. Tiebreakers will be based on head-to-head matchups and best record within the conference.

Next, get rid of every series being best-of-seven. The first round is a best-of-three, second a best-of-five, and the conference finals and league final a best-of-seven.

In the first round, give the higher-seeded squad one of two options: go 1-1-1 or 1-2. Let’s take the Cavs for example. They have the option of playing at home first, then go on the road and play at home if necessary for the winner-take-all scenario. Or, the Cavs start on the road and play the next two at home (the finale if need be).

The second round will be 2-1-1-1 and the finals 2-2-1-1-1. This sounds fun, right? But there’s more.

Since I’m eliminating a lot of playoff games, let’s cut the regular season a bit. Let’s stick with the Cavs because nobody else matters. If you don’t agree, insert Penguins.

The Cavs have 15 opponents in the East. They face all of them four times each (two at home and two on the road). Do the math, and that equates to 60 games per season, 22 less than the 82 now.

Seattle is in line to get an expansion franchise in the NHL, so that will make 32 teams.

Even if you don’t agree with all of this, can you at least agree that the playoffs are way too long? That, at least, must change to my idea. Seriously, if the Penguins and/or Cavs are the top seed, do we really need a best-of-seven to prove who is better?

MLB FORMAT

This may take a little while.

First, get rid of the divisions. Now (and this may upset long-time fans), seperate East coast teams from the West. Centralized teams will depend, and I’ll get to that later.

Whether MLB will still call it the American and National leagues is up to them. They can call them East and West, just like the NBA and NHL do.

Oh yeah, add two expansion franchises (one on each coast) and have 16 in each for a grand total of 32.

Now, baseball purists may not like this because this is turning into the NBA and NHL, but have the top 8 teams in each league make the playoffs. Seeding is 1-8 with the best records. Have a tiebreaking game for seeds No. 8 and 9 if need be.

Just like I mentioned earlier with the other sports, the first round is a best-of-three, second best-of-five, and the league championships and World Series best-of-seven. In the first round, the higher seeds have the option of 1-1-1 or 1-2. The second round is 2-1-1, the league championships 2-2-1-1-1 and the World Series 2-3-2 (I enjoy baseball being this way, so let’s keep it).

Orginally, I thought of an idea for six teams in each league making the playoffs, but it would be a little confusing. The top two seeds would have a bye, but having time off in baseball could be very bad.

I wouldn’t mind seeing only four teams in each league make the playoffs, meaning the regular season would be much more competitive. But with playoffs come money with fans, so half the teams making it is what we’ll go with.

On a side note, each league has the DH rule. No more of this pitcher batting crap, okay? Fine, if pitchers are going to bat, then it should happen in both leagues. It’s ridiculous that the AL and NL have two different rules and styles.

Okay, now time to set the leagues. In the East, there are the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and the new franchise (possibly New Orleans or Memphis?)

In the West, there are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels (they are not from LA), Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and a new franchise (how about Las Vegas?).

Centralized squads are just guesses, but I believe having the Chicago teams playing each other a lot is a great thing for the city and baseball. Same goes for Kansas City and St. Louis.

As for the regular season, let’s cut some games. The Indians will face their 15 challengers 10 times apiece (five at home and five on the road). Scheduling will depend on what the MLB thinks is best. You could have a full week of Indians vs. Pirates, three games at home and three on the road. The other four games could be split up in two seperate two-game series, have a four-game series (two at home and two on the road) or a good old-fashioned doubleheader.

Yes, all of this means that the Eastern and Western teams will only see each other at the All-Star break and the World Series, just like the good old days.

The regular season will start in late April or May, so no more snow on Opening Day. The season ends in late August. Days off are not just on Mondays or Thursdays. Series will start on any day, even if it’s Sunday.

Cutting months, bringing back old traditions of years past, this makes too much sense.

NFL FORMAT

The NFL playoff format works. If they want to make it eight teams in each league, good luck with that.

As for the regular season, take everything I said about the MLB and use that. No divisions, 16 East teams and 16 West. Each team faces its league opponent only once, so each year the venue changes.

Now, this obviously adds up to one extra game at home or on the road. Here’s one solution: the NFL loves playing games in London, so each team plays one game in London, and that’s a neutral site. Each team has seven home games, seven on the road and one neutral.

Or make things easier by adding two more franchises, have 17 in each league and still have a 16-game schedule. Either way, East vs. West does not occur until the Super Bowl.

Some arguments you’ll agree with and some you won’t. Yet, wouldn’t you like to see the two best from each league squaring off only once for the title? Facing off in the regular season kind of ruins it. When the Indians and Cubs were in the World Series a few years back, they did not play one another in the regular season. It made it so much fun.

Let’s bring that fun back.

COMMENTS