We are coming down the stretch of the baseball season and it brings up one of my pet gripes. I think the MLB should allow the team with the best record in each conference to pick their first opponent.
Not that it would be that big of a deal. Right now, the top team plays the Wildcard team ... unless that team is in their own division then they play the division winner with the worst record. This year will most follow the latter scenario since the NL East and AL East will feature both the teams with the best record and the Wildcard Team. So the Phillies/Braves and Yankees/Rays will face off against a division champ with the worst record.
Also, let me make this clear, the team with the best record CANNOT pick the division champ with the second best record as their opponent. That team should be able to have their own homefield advantage, so it's unfair to make them play the best team right off the bat.
It seems, then, that there is no need for a new rule. But there could be instances where this rule would be needed.
Let's say this is how a baseball season ends:
NL CENTRAL CHAMP: Reds (100-62)
NL EAST CHAMP: Phillies (99-63)
NL WEST CHAMP: Giants (84-78)
WILDCARD: Braves (97-65)
If this scenario played out, the Reds ... who had the best record in the National League ... would have to face a Braves team that won just 3 less games than them. Meanwhile, the Phillies would play the relatively weaker Giants. Unfair, don't you think?
Under my proposal, the Reds would be able to pick from the Giants and Braves as their opponent. Obviously, they would rather pick the Giants.
Seems fair and would make the playoffs interesting. Especially since the team that was picked would feel a bit offended that they were deemed a lesser threat than the Wildcard team.
Even if they really are.