SI's Jay Jaffe had it pretty much pegged in August: the MLB's Division Series format this year makes just about no sense, and as a result, we're seeing teams with superior records (and more exciting stories, like the upstart A's) wading into unfriendly waters for their first two games. It's already been a factor in consecutive losses for the aforementioned A's, and every team with the ostensible home field advantage will have something to complain about if they find themselves down early. Jaffe sums it up:
When Major League Baseball decided to add a second Wild Card team to each league, the intent was to create an extra obstacle for non-division winning playoff teams by forcing them to meet in a one-game play-in prior to the Division Series. The change was designed to go hand-in-hand with a realignment plan that shifted the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013, thereby creating six five-team divisions and a more uniform path to the postseason for every team. Alas, the financial allure of the Wild Card games proved too great for commissioner Bud Selig, the owners and the players union to resist, so next year's design has been grafted to this year's model, thereby creating an inequity that actually favors the Wild Card winner.
The rub is that the Division Series will be played in a 2-3 format, with one travel day in between the change of venues, and the lower seed hosting the first two games, a significant advantage because it creates the possibility of more home games for the underdog than the favorite. Meanwhile, the more logical 2-2-1 format, which gives the team with the better record the advantage of hosting the first two games as well as the finale, and which was used from 1998-2011, has been tabled until next year, because heaven forbid that extra travel day push the start of the League Championship Series back a day.
Too much text for you? A little impersonal? Thirsty for Bud Selig's blood? That's why we have Twitter!
So, wait. MLB playoff teams with homefield advantage play their first two games on the road? Am I the only one who finds this dumb?— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) October 7, 2012
So if (god forbid) the @athletics lose Tuesday, the team with the better record and homefield advantage will only have gotten one home game?— ⚾Montsta⚾ (@montsta) October 7, 2012
So homefield "advantage" for the Athletics means they're down 0-2 before even getting to play a home game. Good job MLB.— Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin) October 7, 2012
That's OK, the A's have homefield advantage. #thanksbud— Brian VanderBeek (@ModestoBeek) October 7, 2012
Hi I'm Bud Selig, you just won your division Oakland! You get 2 road games across the country! One starts at 9 a.m. local time!— John Breech (@johnbreech) October 7, 2012
Another baseball note. The team with homefield advantage should never start on the road! Get it together Selig!— Drew (@DrewKid_) October 7, 2012
A's had the better record and homefield advantage but might only get 1 home game. Thanks @mlb you fucking assholes.— John Lewis (@Johnst0ned) October 7, 2012
Welp, good luck with that home field advantage, Oakland!— Evan 'Funk' Davies (@efd) October 7, 2012
Less than 24 hours into their #postseason, the A's are in an 0 - 2 hole after two tough road games. That's not homefield advantage.— Matt Hughes (@hughesmatt) October 7, 2012
Is it really homefield advantage if the "visiting" team gets a chance to make every single game there an elimination game— Jon Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) October 7, 2012
Meanwhile, though I am a Tiger partisan, how lovely of Bud Selig to reward Oakland for winning its division with these two games in Detroit.— Matt Zemek (@mzemek) October 7, 2012
2,400 miles away. 35 degree drop in avg. temperature. 12 hours in between games = Homefield Advantage. Thanks @mlb— McCarthy Supporters (@BMcCarthySC) October 7, 2012
F Bud Selig btw 4 changing the format of the offs when the A's had a better record & everything! Would have been 2-2-1 Home field advantage— MHS Clothing CO (@DonMhs) October 7, 2012
Ahahahaha. Funny you ask. RT @juchemane: why does St. Louis have home field advantage?— Mobutu Sese Seko (@Mobute) October 7, 2012
In 20 hours, the A's are going to be down 2-0 and will be looking to egg Bud Selig's house. #homefieldadvantage!— Stephen Rodrick (@stephenrodrick) October 6, 2012
No way Tigers win that game on road. A's plane should detour over Milwaukee and empty their lavatories on Bud Selig's house. Screwed them.— Stephen Rodrick (@stephenrodrick) October 7, 2012
bud selig should be pelted with garbage— Jorts_ebooks (@smallupsetter) October 7, 2012
Luckily for Bud Selig, the Nationals, Reds, and Yankees fan bases are demure and unassertive. Once the A's are dispatched, he's in the clear.
The Nationals should have tried getting home field advantage.— Brian J Pickett (@BrianPickett) October 7, 2012