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The Major League Baseball playoffs this year are weird. With a brand new structure, it's evident that MLB is still working through the some kinks.

As just about everyone is aware, the new format hosts six clubs per league: the three division winners and the next three best Wild Card teams. The top two division winners get 'byes' to the Division Series, at which point the playoffs are structured as they have been for the last three decades.

However, the four remaining seeds play a three-game Wild Card round, with all contests at the higher seed's venue. As the standings currently sit, the third division winner automatically becomes the three seed, and the top Wild Card team becomes the four seed, the host of the second first round series.

Thus, a problem comes into effect when the third division winner is markedly worse than the top Wild Card team. Naturally, the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals trail the NL Wild Card-leading Atlanta Braves by eight games in the win column.

That means the other clubs fighting for the fifth Wild Card seed are playing for the privilege to face a much more difficult opponent in the first round of the playoffs with no home games.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that MLB does not re-seed the playoffs after the first round. Whoever wins the series between the three and six seed plays the NL's number two seed, currently occupied by the New York Mets. The winner of the four- and five-seed series play the NL's number one seed, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Finishing in the second Wild Card may be a death sentence for the Philadelphia Phillies. Their route through the NLCS would be blocked by MLB's fifth-best team and MLB's best team.

However, finishing in the sixth seed would mean the Phillies' route is blocked by MLB's seventh-best team and MLB's second-best team.

The drop off in quality from Braves and Dodgers to Cardinals and Mets is significant, but what can the Phillies do about making sure they face easier opposition?


Manager Rob Thomson can't tell the Phillies players to try less, they're still looking to catch the Atlanta Braves in the first Wild Card seed, despite being six and a half games back.

The Phillies are in a lose-lose situation. They can't field a worse team and try to remain in the sixth seed. Including the organization malpractice that would occur, it would send a horrible message to the players. And when the club does try to win every game they can, it becomes all the more likely the Phillies will have a tougher road to the World Series than any other playoff team in baseball, despite finishing with a better record than other postseason opposition.

There is a remedy to this problem, one MLB can't do anything about in 2022, but perhaps they can do something in 2023.

Both National League and American League must switch back to a two-divisional system.

With only two clubs per league receiving 'byes,' it doesn't make sense to have three divisions. In this format, both division winners will receive a free pass to the NLDS as a reward for topping their division, while the four runner-ups receive Wild Card berths and are re-seeded after the first round.

This would solve the issue of clubs playing for worse position in both the first and second round, and with MLB moving to a more balanced schedule for 2023, one less focused on division opposition, perhaps a realignment is already in the cards.

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