Imagine a world where the 79-83 New York Mets are in the postseason. If the latest MLB proposal goes through, future sub-.500 squads would get their chance.
Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t afraid to think of new ways to improve Major League Baseball. He also doesn’t know the line where improvements end up destroying the game. Even if the latest proposal would have put the 2014 New York Mets in the postseason, it’s hard to really get on board with a system where 7 teams make the postseason.
As Tim Britton of The Athletic pointed out, putting 7 teams from each league into the playoffs would have made the forgettable 2014 Mets postseason squad despite having a 79-83 record. This isn’t the NBA. This is Major League Baseball. There’s a 162-game schedule for a reason. The entire year is a playoff.
In case you’ve forgotten, the 2014 season in Flushing didn’t include too many memorable moments. On offense, Lucas Duda led the team with 30 home runs. Power was far from a strength of this squad. Only Travis d’Arnaud with 13 and Curtis Granderson with 20 reached double-digits.
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The season included an uncharacteristically unproductive year from David Wright. Despite a relatively healthy year which included 134 games played, the Captain hit only .269/.324/.374.
On the other side of the ball, Jenrry Mejia was the closer. However, a youngster named Jeurys Familia put together a fantastic year as a middle reliever. This was a year sans Matt Harvey as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery. Fortunately, it included the debut of Jacob deGrom.
deGrom put together a masterful 22-game season which earned him Rookie of the Year honors. At 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, he showed us all how bright his future could become. He has only gotten better in the years since.
The 2014 Mets weren’t a horrific team yet they were far from playoff-worthy. As we have seen in the past, sometimes a franchise only needs to get into the tournament to go far. With the pitching this team had, it wouldn’t have been impossible for the Mets to put together a Cinderella Story.
Since the release of this possible update to the playoff picture, I’m not sure I’ve come across anyone who likes it. Baseball doesn’t need more teams in the playoffs. If you’re going to expand the postseason, lengthen the Divisional Series from a Best of Five to a Best of Seven to start.
Baseball’s reputation as a dying sport won’t be helped out by putting more teams in the playoffs. It’s an ugly change that doesn’t create better stories in October. If anything, it deflates the meaning of the other months.
The NBA and NHL have a giant playoff pool. Those leagues are a little different. They play half as many games and at least in the NHL, any team can advance and it’s fun to see it happen.
In baseball, playoff rosters are aligned so differently with off-days. The game is played differently in a shorter series with starters coming out of the bullpen when needed. A 79-win team may actually have an advantage over a 100-win squad in this regard depending on the team’s strength.
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The playoffs should reward the best of the best. This new system, which would have added the 2014 and 2019 Mets to the playoffs, wouldn’t have done the previous 162 games any justice.