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!
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.