October 6th, 2015 by Lou
In 1973, the Mets made the post season on the final day of the season. Technically it was the day after the final day of the season. Because of bad weather, games on Friday and Saturday of the final weekend series at Wrigley Field were postponed. On Sunday, September 30, the Mets lost to the Cubs by a score of 1-0. Their record was 81-79, enough for a one game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals who won their final game of the season against Pittsburgh. St. Louis ended with an 81-81 record with the Pirates at 80-81 after the game. So the Mets as well as the Pirates needed to make up rained out games in order to determine if a play-in game would be necessary or if the Mets could win the division out right.
So on Monday, October 1, 1973, a day after the regular season ended, Ernie Banks got his wish as the Mets and Cubbies were scheduled to play two. The Pirates also had to play a makeup against the Padres at Three Rivers Stadium. The possibility existed that three teams, the Mets, Cardinals, and Pirates could all finish at .500 requiring a three way play-in. For that to happen, the Mets would have to lose the doubleheader against Chicago and Pittsburgh would need to win their game against San Diego.
The Mets won the first game of the doubleheader 6-4 behind Tom Seaver, clinching the National League East. The weather in Chicago was so damp and cold that day, once the Mets clinched in game one the umpires canceled the second game of the twin bill. Sorry Ernie. For what it’s worth, the Pirates lost their game to San Diego but once the Mets clinched with a win, it didn’t matter anyway.
With the worst record to win a division up to that time (82-79), the Mets were the heavy underdog against the mighty the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds had Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Dan Driessen, Ken Griffey, a veritable powerhouse. With a record of 99-63, the Reds were a heavy favorite to win the National League pennant over the New York Mets. Back then there was no wild card, no interleague play, just two divisions with both winners going to a best of five league championship series. Many felt the Mets had no business being on the same field with the Reds.
But the Mets had pitching, loads of pitching. Their starting four were Tom Seaver (19-10), Jerry Koosman (14-15), Jon Matlack (14-16), and George Stone (12-3). The Mets had a tremendous run the last two months of the season. On July 31, the Mets were 44-57, in last place (6th) 10.5 games behind the Cubs. They went 38-22 down the stretch. That combined with mediocre play from the rest of the division allowed the Mets to jump over every team winning an improbable championship.
On August 1st, Seaver shut out the Pirates on 4 hits. The Mets won close game after close game. Matlack threw a 2 hit shutout against the Dodgers in LA on August 8, winning 1-0. The next night the Dodgers beat the Mets 1-0 as Koosman went the distance. Even with the loss, the Mets pitchers were dealing. Seaver pitches another complete game giving up just one run against the Giants a couple nights later then another complete game two hit shutout against San Diego down Interstate 5 on August 15. Get the pattern? Mostly each night, win or lose Mets pitchers were extremely stingy. But even with the improved play in August including two more 1-0 shutouts thrown by Seaver and Koosman, the Mets were still at the bottom of the pack at the end of the month. Trailing by the division leading Cardinals the Mets had their work cut out for themselves.
The Mets would go 21-8 to close out the season. Mets pitchers threw five more shutouts in September including a stretch where they won 11 out of 13 games. The Mets overcame many injuries the first half of the season and righted the ship at the right time. If there was ever a Jekyll and Hyde season for the Mets, 1973 was it.
So what happened in the playoffs against the mighty Reds? Why the Mets won of course, with superior pitching and clutch hitting. They lost game one by a score of 2-1. Seaver took the loss at Riverfront Stadium. In game two, Matlack pitched a masterpiece, shutting out the Reds on 2 hits. Mets tied the short series wining 5-0, crossing the plate four times in the top of the ninth.
The series moved to Shea Stadium for games three through five. Koosman pitched game 3 and went the distance as the Mets trounced the Reds 9-2. This game was most remembered for the Bud Harrelson-Pete Rose brawl that took place in the third inning. Rose slid hard into second as Harrelson threw the ball to complete a double play. Rose came up and knocked down Buddy then all hell broke loose. Mets players had to calm down the crowd in the left field stands who were throwing stuff on the field.
The Mets led the series two games to one. Three consecutive games, playoff games no less, pitched by three pitchers-all complete games. Not one reliever was brought to the mound by Mets manager, the late great Yogi Berra. But after six and two thirds innings in game four, Yogi brought in Tug “You gotta believe” McGraw to relieve George Stone. The Mets lost game four by a score of 2-1. The Reds used four pitchers to shut down the Mets suddenly surging offense. But the Mets came back in Game 5 as Tom Seaver shut down the Reds pitching eight and a third innings. McGraw got the final two outs and the Mets with a 7-2 win won the NL pennant and headed to their second World Series in four years.
I guess I think back on this LCS because the Mets were such underdogs in that series. Many think the same about the 2015 Mets, whose regular season was somewhat reminiscent of the ’73 team. Both clubs struggled with injuries most of the season but surged at the end. I don’t think the current Mets are nearly the underdog that those ’73 Mets were but with Kershaw and Greinke, many feel it will be an uphill battle for New York. The one good thing is, the Mets players don’t feel that way. That’s because like the ’73 Mets, the 2015 Mets’ strength is pitching. The Dodgers have the big two but the Mets have three, maybe four elite pitchers. It won’t be easy but no one thought a team with 82 wins could beat The Big Red Machine either.
October 5th, 2015 by Lou
From Bleacher Reports Full 2015 MLB Season Preview and Predictions published on April 3, 2015:
Well, obviously the Nationals are going to win the NL East. Haven’t you had that crammed down your throat yet?!
Silliness aside, it is hard to argue with the idea. They look like a potential superteam.
Particularly where their rotation is concerned. It looked awesome when it was just Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez, and then they dropped $210 million on Max Scherzer. Now it looks awesome enough to be one of the best rotations in history.
As Dan Uggla told ESPN.com’s Tim Kurkjian: “I’ve never seen anything like this. In 2012, this team really started something by getting Gio, then adding Fister. And they keep doing things to make it even better. But this is just crazy.”
At least on paper, the Nationals also have plenty of offense. Once everyone is healthy, they’ll have Denard Span and Anthony Rendon leading the way, followed by Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. That’s a deep lineup and a fairly balanced one too.
The only real weakness is their bullpen. But that won’t cost them in the regular season, as their starters figure to eat a ton of innings and conspire with their offense to create plenty of big leads.
At least 95 wins are in order. Maybe 100. That’ll be more than enough to outpace the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, who are both at best 85-win teams.
Well, so much for predictions but they are fun when no one has any idea what can and will happen. I don’t mean to pick on Bleacher Reports. They were not the only ones to predict the Nats would be the best in the east. Why I thought they were too. I was hoping the Mets could simply compete, have a winning record and maybe even be fighting for that second wild card in the league the last week of the season.
But low and behold, here we are. The Mets are the National League Eastern Division champions of 2015. Not only did the Nats not win 100 games or 95 games, they won just 83 games while the Mets won 90. As it turned out, the Mets didn’t need to compete for a wild card and that was a good thing. The Pirates and Cubs won 98 and 97 games respectively. So if the Mets only road to the post season was as the wild card, 90 wins wouldn’t have been close.
Look, I can’t argue with folks who say the Mets benefited from the Nationals having a bad season. Had Washington played to their ability, they would have likely won the division. But they didn’t. They had injuries but so did the Mets, a lot of them. The Nationals could have made deals at the deadline but the only thing they turned up was Jonathan Papelbon. That was pouring gasoline on to the fire. It appears there may have been a lot brewing in the Nats clubhouse this season and its likely manager Mitch Williams will not survive. I wonder if Wally Backman will finally get his shot at a major league managerial job.
So how do we interpret predictions of the post season? Last year, two wild card teams made it all the way to the series. The Giants won their third world championship in five years, defeating the Kansas City Royals. Both were wild cards. The Royals made it to the post season again this season, this time as a top seed division winner. The Giants are a no show, having struggled for much of the season.
If we went by record, it would be easy to predict a mid-west series with the Royals (95-67) taking on the Cardinals (100-62). But history has shown, not always or even very often do the teams with the best records win out.
So predictions will be made for the post season as they were for the regular season. How off will they be remains to be seen. Honestly I think the Mets will have a difficult time defeating the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke will be mighty tough even with the Mets throwing Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the first two games. The problem with the Mets which was so painfully obvious the last week of the regular season is their offense. They scored just two runs in their last four games. Now granted, the Mets were playing for nothing and it really never seemed like they took that home field advantage thing very serious. So perhaps it’s unfair to view the Mets offense based on Thursday’s game in Philly with the “C” lineup. But at home you would have thought they could have generated more offense, even with getting no-hit by a masterful performance from Matt Scherzer on Saturday night. Yesterday’s win was exciting as the Mets capped off a 90 win season but again, 3 hits against Tanner Roark. Really, 5 hits total? And with the “A” lineup in there.
Perhaps what the Mets need is the four day rest before the post season begins. But facing Kershaw is not necessarily the best prescription for getting out of a batting slump. But on the other hand, through this entire season, when the Mets looked like everything was about to go south, they rebounded and played brilliantly.
Who didn’t think the season was about to tank when the Mets were one out away from a victory when Mother Nature sent a deluge to Citi Field. I am talking about the game on July 30th when the Mets had a 6-1 lead against the Padres and blew it after a rain delay with one out to go in the ninth. The next night, Wilmer Flores completed his fairy tale week by hitting the walk off homer against the Nationals propelling the Mets to a three game sweep. Then the Mets did it again in Washington, falling behind after taking an early lead only to come back and take game one of a three game set on Labor Day 8-5. That also was the beginning of a three game sweep, one in which the Mets came back in all three contests. On and on, you can find these turn-arounds during the season for the Mets. So to think the Mets can’t compete with the Dodgers would be as silly as thinking the Mets will simply take three in a row from LA. The LDS between the Dodgers and Mets should be a good one with the great pitching these two clubs have. And whoever loses need not bow their heads in shame when all is said and done.
I was always on board with Sandy Alderson’s plan, and yes I am quite aware that many of the current young Mets were drafted by Omar Minaya. However, they were developed under Sandy’s regime and they showed the patience to wait until these players blossomed, resisting temptation to trade them away for washed up players with a big name. How this team differs in comparison to the 2006 edition is by the fact that these Mets, especially the pitching, are young and are going to be around for quite a while.
Regardless of how this post season plays out, these Mets need not be a one and done group. The talent is there to compete for several years to come, and more from the farm is on its way. And yes, when all is said and done in 2015, decisions will need to be made about the current free agents to be, especially Mr. Cespedes. I expect the Mets to make a competitive offer but it will likely not be the top offer. The choice will ultimately be up to Yoenis to except the most money or stay and be rich at a place where he would like to stay. That’s for another day however. Now it’s time for the Mets vs. Dodgers after a four day break. Meanwhile we can relax, watch all the pre-playoff specials on SNY, and enjoy the wild card games and the first games of the ALDS.
October 4th, 2015 by Lou
With today’s season finale win by a score of 1-0, the Mets reach the 90 win mark for the eleventh time in their history. It is the second time the Mets ended a season at 90-72. The first time was in 1984 but the record was only good enough for second place during the pre-wild card era.
The Mets won 91 games in 1990, 92 in 1987, 94 in 2000, 97 in 1999 and 2006, 98 in 1985, 100 games in 1969 and 1988. And of course their all time high water win mark was 108 victories in 1986, the last time the Mets won a World Series. The Mets reached the post season winning 90 or more wins seven times in their history. However, in 1973, the Mets won the Eastern Division with only 82 wins.
The last four times the Mets have reached the post season, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2006, the Mets failed to achieve their goal of winning a World Series. They were last in the Series in 2000 when they lost to the Yankees 4 games to 1. The last time the Mets were in the post season, 2006, they lost game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals.
October 3rd, 2015 by Lou
It’s official, the Mets are the third seed in the National League playoffs. A five game losing streak, culminating being no-hit by Matt Scherzer, came at the wrong time for the Mets. The Dodgers defeated the Padres clinching the better record of the two teams securing home field advantage.
So it means that game one and two of the League Division Series will be at Dodger Stadium next Friday and Saturday with a travel day on Sunday. The Mets will host the Dodgers on Monday, October 12th and Tuesday, October 13th if necessary. If a fifth game is necessary, it will be back at Chavez Ravine on Thursday, October 15th.
For what it’s worth, the Mets have played in three division series beginning in 1999, the following season in 2000, and again in 2006. The Mets won all three times. The first two times they did it as the wild card when they defeated the Diamondbacks and the Giants. For both of the those division series, the Mets did not have the home field advantage and won in four games, avoiding a game five. In 2006, the Mets had home field advantage with the best record in the National League (97-65). That year they swept the Dodgers in the LDS winning the first two at Shea then clinching in LA.
Now the Mets will try to win tomorrow to hopefully finish the regular season on a good note. Who did not think after sweeping the Reds that the Mets final win total would have easily been in the low 90s? Now the Mets must win the season finale just to get to 90 wins. However, and for what it’s worth, last years World Series participants, the Giants and Royals did not have 90 wins. The Giants won 88 and the Royals won 89. Both teams were wild cards. It shows that once the playoffs begin, anything can happen. Hopefully the poor offensive and defensive play we have witnessed since the Philadelphia series will go away once the Mets start the playoffs.
Regardless of what is to come, it has been a great season for the Mets organization and their fans. No one had expected the success the Mets have had when the season began six months ago.
October 1st, 2015 by Lou
The Mets are 1-3 since clinching the NL East title last Saturday in Cincinnati. They have a half game lead over the Dodgers at the moment with their game in San Francisco about to start.
The Mets did not play well in Philadelphia. Bartolo Colon gave up three runs on Tuesday, and if it wasn’t for Lucas Duda’s two run homer in the ninth inning, it would not have seemed at all like a close game. Last night the Mets scored five runs in the first inning then their bats went to sleep in what was likely the worst played game of the season for the Amazins. The pitching stunk and the Mets left runners all over the bases all night long. It looked like the way things were back in BC (Before Cespedes). Speaking of Yoenis, he was the only bright spot of the night in that his x-rays came back negative after he was plunked by a pitch on the left hand during his second at-bat.
Today was more of the same but this time the Mets waived the white flag before the game began. The idea being better to hide the good players from a potential brawl that was building, home field advantage be damned. Not a single Mets runner crossed the plate stretching the scoreless streak to 17 innings. The Mets need to win won game to reach 90 for the season and likely need to win at least two of three to clinch home field in the LDS against the Dodgers.
How did former Mets division winners do the rest of the regular season after they clinched? The 1969 Mets clinched the first ever NL East title with a record of 96-61. They went 4-1 in the final five, losing the last game of the season ironically to the Cubs who the Mets chased, caught, and blew by that summer.
In 1973 the Mets won the division on the last day of the season. They had one game left after they clinched but it was the second game of a make-up double header. The weather in Chicago was cold and dreary so once the first game was complete and the Mets clinched, the chief umpire canceled the second game. The Mets that year won the NL East with a record of 82-79.
The most dominating Mets team of all time won the division title in 1986 with 17 games remaining on the schedule. They were 95-50 after Doc Gooden defeated the Cubs to wrap it up. The Mets completed the season going 13-4 for a franchise best total of 108-54.
In ’88, the Mets won a total of 100 games and clinched against the Phillies at Shea Stadium with Ron Darling on the mound. The Mets won 6 of their last 9 games that season finishing with 100 wins.
The Mets next won the division in 2006 with a record of 88-67. Jose Valentin hit two 2-run homers against the Marlins. The Mets went 6-7 the rest of the way, the only time they played under .500 after clinching.
This year the Mets will finish their post clinching remaining games under .500 again unless they sweep the Nationals. That would be nice not so much for the record but to secure home field advantage against the Dodgers.
This will be the third time the Mets face the Dodgers in the post season. The first time was in 1988 when it was expected the Mets would win. However, the Dodgers prevailed in seven games mostly because of Orel Hershiser’s mastery and his 5 hit shutout in game 7. In ’06, the Mets swept LA three games to none before heading to the LCS.
September 30th, 2015 by Lou
Has this happened to you? You have friends that are Yankee fans and they call you and tell you congratulations on the Mets clinching the National League East. Then in the next breath tell you how lucky the Mets are that the Nationals fell apart this year and that the NL East was a really bad division.
I call that a back handed compliment and it amazes me that many Yankees fans go out of their way to make this point. Even in the Yankee pre-game show Monday night on YES, a lot of talk went into discussing the Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper fiasco and why the Nats collapsed this year with little mention of the Mets’ accomplishment. MLB Network also spent a lot of time discussing the fall of the Nationals. In their case I’m sure it was to justify how they all were so wrong back in the spring,
Other remarks have been “well enjoy the moment because with the Mets, you never know when this will happen again”. You know what everybody—Shut Up! Why are you raining on our parade? Geez, is 27 world championships, 40 pennants and 51 trips to the post season not enough? Is not having every single digit number and many double digit numbers retired still not enough? 2015 will be only the Mets eighth appearance in the post season in 54 years. That’s pathetic. Why, the Mets have never even won their division in back to back years. Their history is hardly a match for the historic and mighty Yankees and all their winning. So why are the Mets so threatening?
Furthermore what should the Mets have done, not compete? Should they have lied down and said we don’t want to win because the Nationals are not having a good year. Let’s wait till they are competitive again. Should the Mets not have beaten up bad teams in their division and elsewhere?
The Mets did what good teams do. They win the games they are supposed to win. Against teams under .500 the Mets so far this year are 65-33 (.663). Against teams above .500 they are 24-35 (.406). That’s not so great. You would like to see that number at least at .500. However, since the trade deadline the Mets’ record against teams above. 500 is 8-6, more like what’s expected. In 2000, the Yankees went 45-31 against teams under .500 and 42-43 against teams over. The Yanks beat the Mets in the World Series that year. I don’t recall anyone faithful to the Bombers complaining that they beat up on a lot of bad teams. Oh and by the way, the Yankees currently struggling to clinch a wild card are not exactly playing in the division for the ages either.
Yes, the Nats did fall apart and did not live up to the glorified hype poured on them by the Ken Rosenthals and the Tom Verduccis of the baseball world. Neither did the Marlins whose winter’s transactions every analyst seemed to fall all over. So yes, with the Nats and Fish not living up to the “expert’s” expectations, and with the Braves in rebuild mode and the Phillies at rock bottom, the division was ripe for the taking. And that’s exactly what the New York Mets did, they took it. No one handed it to them, they took it. Shortly I will review this amazing season however for now, let’s look at what the Mets accomplished in a nut shell.
They started out blazing, taking two of three from Washington setting the tone for the season regardless if anyone noticed or not. The Mets went on to win 11 in a row in mid-April but then started to suffer a plethora of major injuries. From May through July, the Mets held on often fielding a triple A lineup. But their tremendous starting pitching and closer managed to keep the team in the mix. With a real shot near the trade deadline, GM Sandy Alderson dealt a number of pitching prospects for impact players. The Mets basically steamrolled from that point to the division championship. This is what the GM had talked about when he took the job in 2010. Being in a position where the farm system is delivering major league caliber players to the big league club, using some of the farm to trade for impact players while maintaining payroll flexibility. This is the model that the more successful teams have used recently. The Cardinals, Giants, and until recently, the Red Sox have all been able to compete from strength by having a good farm system and being able to spend but not dishing out absurd contracts.
I specifically disagree with the “one and done” comment. The Mets are in position now to compete on a yearly basis. Of course, they may not have Cespedes moving forward after this season. I hope they do but on the other hand I don’t want the Mets to be in a situation where four or five years from now they are paying a ridiculous salary to a player clearly on the decline. Hopefully a compromise will be met, one where Cespedes gets the money he deserves but also keeps the Mets in position to continue to compete.
Maybe that’s what has Yankee fans frustrated. They see in the Mets what the Yanks were not that long ago—a team with a young core that contends year in and year out. But the Yankees have some good young players too and their future will likely not be as bad as what the Mets recently went through for six years. Again, all the more befuddling why Yankee fans have to be so snarky when it comes to the Mets.
September 28th, 2015 by Lou
Will there now be talk of altering the post season again? I say this because of what is happening in the National League Central this season.
The three best teams in the National League this season, record wise, are the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago Cubs. The Cards have the best record in baseball and will be the odds-on favorite to win it all. But we know that anything can happen. Last year, it was two wild card teams that met in the World Series. That resulted in the San Francisco Giants winning their third world championship in three years. What this proves is all that really matters is getting to the tournament. Once in, anything can happen.
In its fourth season of the current playoff format, the two wild cards from each league will square off in a one game playoff game to open the post season. In the American League this season, it is working as expected. Both wild card teams are good but not as good as any division winner. However the National League is throwing a monkey wrench into the gears. That’s because the two wild cards, the Pirates and Cubs will likely finish the season with better records than the Dodgers and Mets, assuming the Dodgers win their division with their magic numbers down to 2. There will be cries of—why shouldn’t the Cubs or Pirates have more of an opportunity to compete in the post season when they had such remarkable seasons? The Pirates could possibly reach 100 wins as a wild card then lose to the Cubs in a one game playoff.
The purpose of the new playoff system was to provide an incentive for teams to win their division. Too often, wild cards were getting deep into the playoffs almost making the division title an unimportant goal. What was the purpose of a team to work so hard to win the division if being second good was good enough? Hence the latest playoff system was born. And for the most part, it works.
I like the two wild card format. If you look at the schedule on any given day this late in the season, because of their being two wild cards and three divisions, more than half the games have some significance in regard to the post season. It’s more fun for the fans and it even makes business sense. Often by now the games were meaningless because it was clear who was going to the post season. There was little incentive to watch and more incentive to turn to the NFL. But now, baseball remains exciting still with just one week to go in the regular season. Even after a team clinches, there is motivation to get home field advantage. The Mets would like to end with a better record than the Dodgers so they might have three games at Citi Field instead of two.
Look at tonight’s schedule in MLB. Except for the makeup game in Washington with the Reds this afternoon, every game has significance. The Red Sox are at the Yankees. The Yanks are still fighting for the division against the Blue Jays but certainly want to secure a wild card. The Cardinals are at Pittsburgh. Both teams are in the playoffs already however Pittsburgh wants the division and they don’t want to face the Cubs in a one game take all scenario. The Blue Jays play the Orioles at Camden Yards. The Jays have a magic number of 4 to clinch the division even though they have clinched a playoff spot. The Twins still fighting for that second wild card will be in Cleveland and the Tribe has an outside shot at the wild card too. The Rangers host the Tigers and try to lower their magic number from Houston. The Royals are at Wrigley. The Royals have already clinched the AL Central but they are tied with the Blue Jays for best record and will play hard to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cubs want to win because they would like to have the wild card game on their home turf as opposed to going to Pittsburgh or St. Louis. The lowly A’s will be in Anaheim where the Angels are only a half-game behind Houston for the second wild card. Houston will be battling the Mariners in Seattle to try and remain in the post season mix while the Dodgers with a win tonight could clinch the division. Their opponent, the Giants who have already been eliminated from the wild card race have a slim chance of catching the Dodgers but they get four chances to make it interesting this week. So there you have it, September 28th with nine out of ten games having significant meaning regarding the post season.
So back to the Cubs and Pirates…
This season is more the aberration than the norm. There will be seasons when wild card teams have better records than one or two division winners within a league. And it likely will be rarer that both wild card teams have better records than the one or both of the other division winners. In 2012, the first season of two wild cards, the Orioles and Rangers, had better records than the central division champion Tigers in the AL, but not the other divisions. In the NL, the Braves (wild card 1) had the same record as the Giants had as division champs of the west but the other wild card, the Cardinals did not have a better record than any division champion in the NL. In 2013 in the AL, both wild cards had a worse record than any division champ in the AL. In the NL, the Pirates (wild card 1) had a better record than west division champ Dodgers but not better than east champ Braves. Last season, no wild card in both leagues had a better record than any division champion. So for the most part the system works and clearly the advantage of winning a division is obvious. Just ask the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Royals, and likely the Rangers. Automatically they will make the division series. However for the Bucs and the Cubbies, they likely will not be able to prove that they are better than the Cardinals. But baseball recognizes their success and awards the two teams an opportunity to make the tournament as I like to call it. However, regardless of their records being number two and three respectively in the league, one of them goes home after one game.
What it really comes down to is that no system in sports is really fair. You want fair, then you have to go back to when there were no divisions in the AL and NL. The first place teams of both leagues got to go to the World Series to determine the best team, the world champion team. As soon as divisions began in 1969, when the New York Mets broke in the system winning both the LCS and World Series, fair went out the window although in that season, the two best teams did make it to the World Series.
So today, with six division winners and four wild cards, ten teams making the post season—how can it be called anything but a post season tournament? And in such a tournament, anything can happen. The one game playoff for the wild cards is a great move. It provides an opportunity for the fourth and fifth best teams in the league to have a shot at the crown. No team really should complain about that.