I must admit that I haven't followed major league baseball closely for the past 20 years. I'm one of those fans that separates from the sport once the season is done. When the Steelers fail in the playoffs? I'm out until the Super Bowl (and even then, I watch with cursory interest). When the Pens lost to the Bruins? Hockey season was over to me. When the Mountie b-ball team is out of the NCAA tourney? I fill out a bracket and that's it. When the Pirates....well let's just say that I haven't followed MLB much in the past 20 years :)
I've paid closer attention to baseball this year than any I can remember since '92. There are some aspects of the postseason format that make absolutely no sense to me.
#1: Number of wildcard teams: I completely agree w/ the addition of wildcard teams, in each league, to 5. Want to make it even better? Make it 6 (just like the NFL). Baseball is too long of a season for only 5 teams in each league to make the postseason. I DO think that the NBA and NHL should decrease the number of teams from 8 to 6. Eight dilutes the significance of making the playoffs.
#2: Wild card play-in game: So you're going to battle for 6 MONTHS and 162 GAMES to make the playoffs and once you do, as a wildcard, you get 1 game to determine who moves into the "2nd round"? Baseball just isn't the kind of sport that determines success based on 1 game. It flat out decreases the significance of a pitching rotation by placing the ball in the hand of your ace......and oh, that's only if he didn't pitch 2 days before in a pivotal game to get into the playoffs. At the very least, make it a best of 3 situation, but a best of 5 (in 5 consecutive days) ensures that the entire pitching rotation will be utilized to determine the team that moves on. This also gives a great advantage to the #1 seed because they will be rested while the 2 wild card teams battle each other. The #1 seed earned this advantage.
#3: Scheduling: For the entire season, baseball schedules games day after day and some teams have 20 games in 20 days at various points in the season. In the playoffs? Hardly. The league usually schedules off days when series shift to the other team's city and sometimes even when they remain in the same city. Why? TV, of course, and likely this won't change. However, it ensures that teams will only need to use 2-3 pitchers in the playoffs due to the extra days off and decreases the value of a 5 man staff, which is the essence of the 162 game regular season.
#4: # of games in the divisional round: This should absolutely be increased to 7 games from 5.
Example: Team A has a record that is slightly better than Team B. Team B is placed at a significant disadvantage because of playing the first 2 games on the road. They must be perfect for the remainder of the series, if they lose both of those games. An increase to 7 games dilutes this significant home field advantage, but yet still offers an additional game to the team w/ the better record.
Whether it's determining World Series home field advantage by the winning All-Star team or its antiquated blackout policy that doesn't allow central Ohio Pittsburgh Pirates fans to watch Pirate broadcasts live, Major League Baseball has its issues for sure. However, the issues plaguing the postseason SHOULD be addressed prior to these other more scrutinized aspects of MLB.