The fourth and 12th-best teams in baseball will meet in the World Series, as Atlanta wrapped up its first pennant in 22 years with a 4-2 triumph over the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS on Saturday night.
That gives us 88-win Atlanta against a Houston team that glided to 95 wins on the strength of going 27-11 against the Angels and Rangers. They’re both really good teams, but there were three 100-game winners this year and only the Dodgers even made it to the LCS. We don’t have to pretend that whoever wins the championship is the best team. They will be the winners — deserving winners — of a grueling tournament whose qualification process could use some tweaking.
The Dodgers were 18 games better than Atlanta this year, but didn’t get home field in the playoffs because they didn’t win their division. Fair, but they would’ve had home field against Houston in the World Series. Major League Baseball needs to decide if winning divisions or winning games is more important.
It should be the latter, and to that end, the schedule needs to be balanced. Stop dilly-dallying, expand to 32 teams already, and find cities other than Las Vegas and Montreal to use as leverage for the A’s and Rays to get new parks built. Nashville and Portland would be immediate candidates to stand in as accessories to municipal extortion, and if not them, there’s always some billionaire somewhere looking for a tax dodge.
After getting to 32 teams, do away with divisions and balance the schedule (and shorten the season to 154 games). Two leagues, 16 teams each, top six make the playoffs. Top two get a week to rest up while 3 through 6 play best-of-five series to make the division series, which expands to seven games, followed by the LCS and World Series as we know them. If MLB insists on divisions, two divisions of eight in each league, not four divisions of four — we’ll wind up with a 79-win team that nobody wants to see in October.
In the meantime, enjoy the baseball being played by two very good teams who were not the best in baseball this year but earned their way to the World Series. There’s no good rooting option — it’s the cheaters (yes, we’re still for Dusty Baker getting a ring) against the racists (yes, Freddie Freeman seems like a real good dude, and Tyler Matzek is a fantastic story, and so is Eddie Rosario, and not everyone who roots for that team is a racist, but seriously, we’ve been hearing the Chop for 30 years despite it being called out for what it is FROM THE JUMP — oh, and they had anti-vaxxer Travis Tritt sing the national anthem on Saturday) — but the games should be good.