There is no reason why the best teams should not be rewarded with the best position in the playoffs. Whether that be baseball, basketball or football, it makes the most sense from both ratings and a practical point of view for the teams with the winningest records to be put into a position where they can continue to last long in the playoffs.
The New York Yankees, who finished the season with 100 wins and the third best record in baseball, shouldn’t be put into a place where they face a must-win Wild Card Game to make it into the playoffs. There is also no reason that if they win that game, they would have to play a Boston Red Sox team with 108 wins. The Red Sox should have an easy pathway to making the World Series because they finished the season with the most wins, yet they will still have to face another World Series favorite in the Yankees.
This system puts an emphasis on divisional play; however, it is also unfair for divisions that consistently perform at an elite level. The Yankees and Red Sox typically have the highest payroll and invest the most money into their respective teams, which is why they are always in the running in October. Yet, one of these two teams has to play a one-off game every year because they face each other.
Most people would agree that the best teams deserve to be in the playoffs and that they want to watch the best teams in the postseason. But with the current system in place, the best teams will not stay in the playoffs for an extended period of time, and the World Series will not consist of the two best teams.
The same can be said about basketball. The Western Conference has recently consisted of two teams that deserve to be in the NBA Championship. Last season, the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors were the two best teams, but were pinned against each other in the Western Conference Championship instead of the Finals.
The NBA Finals is obviously more watched than the Western Conference Finals. Yet, the better series last year was the one between the Rockets and the Warriors, not the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Warriors. And still, people were forced to watch the Cavs in the Finals instead of the Rockets because of this playoff system.
Fans deserve to watch the two best teams play in the Finals. Teams deserve to be rewarded for their regular season success and not be punished because of where they are geographically located in the country.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that it makes no sense to break up conferences and seeding because of where teams are geographically located. While it would be hard for two teams across the country to play each other in a best of seven series, it should not be the sole reason for preventing fairness in sports.
These players and organizations are getting paid millions of dollars to compete and entertain fans. At the end of the day, the players can put up with a little bit of extra travel to give the fans the best source of entertainment and declare a fair winner.
As a fan, I want the opportunity to watch the Red Sox and Yankees face each other at the highest stage in baseball instead of barely scraping into the playoffs, because they are both much better than the rest. At the end of the day, people want to see the best teams compete against each other in the championship, and right now, that is not the case. This MLB postseason is poised to be an entertaining one because of the level of talent. Yet, record-wise, the American League is better than the National League, but the American League teams will have to grind against each other before the World Series. This could mean whichever team comes out of the AL will probably be worn down by the time they face the worse NL team, and that doesn’t make for the best World Series.
Robby Aronson is a sophomore majoring in journalism. His column, “The Bottom Line,” runs every other Wednesday.