I've been patiently waiting for the Toronto Blue Jays to make another run at the playoffs since 1994 when the Expos were robbed of their chance.
Year in and year out the Jays have been forced to compete in a division against the high spending New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Yet every year the Jays go into the season with high hopes and quickly finish somewhere around .500 baseball.
This offseason has been no different: The Yankees have signed high profile players such as CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett (former Jay), and Mark Teixeira. The Jays have made no moves since they're bleeding money, so in exchange they are hyping up 2009 as a year where "this time" we will be healthy. Heard that argument for 3 years now and I doubt it will come to fruition.
What I have noticed however is that every year a lot of good teams are missing the playoffs and the playoff system in MLB is vastly irregular compared to other sports.
Hockey for example has 30 teams and 16 of them make the playoffs every year. Rarely does the number 1 team actually win the championship.
Football has 32 teams and 12 of them make the playoffs every year. Football is harder to use as a comparison since they only play 16 games so every game really does matter.
Basketball has 30 teams and 16 of them make the playoffs every year. Sadly teams with below .500 make the playoffs in this league but that is more to do with East conference versus Western conference disparity.
And of course MLB has 30 teams and 8 of them make the playoffs. Looking more closely there are almost as many teams not in the playoffs as there are in the playoffs with better records than at least one team in the playoffs. Say that 3 times fast...
Let's take an analysis since 1995 since the playoffs format moved from 4 teams in the playoffs to 8 teams.
Teams screwed over by playoff system: California Angels 78-67
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Montreal Expos 88-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: New York Mets 88-74, LA Dodgers 88-74, Anaheim Angels 84-78
AL West Texas Rangers 88-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Toronto Blue Jays 88-74, NY Mets 88-74, San Francisco 89-74
AL Wildcard Boston Red Sox 94-68, AL West Texas Rangers 95-67
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Cincinnati Reds 96-67
AL East New York Yankees 87-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Cleveland 90-72
NL East Atlanta Braves 88-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Boston Red Sox 93-69, Seattle 93-69, LAD 92-70
AL Central Minnesota Twins 90-72, NL Central Chicago Cubs 88-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Seattle Mariners 93-69
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Oakland Athletics 91-71, San Francisco Giants 91-71
NL East Atlanta Braves 90-72, San Diego Padres 82-80
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Cleveland Indians 93-69, Philadelphia Phillies 88-74, Oakland Athletics 88-74, Minnesota Twins 83-79
NL Central St. Louis Cardinals 83-78, NL West LAD 88-74, NL Wildcrad San Diego Padres 88-74
Teams screwed over by playoff system: Toronto Blue Jays 87-75, Boston Red Sox 86-76, Chicago White Sox 90-72, LA Angels 89-73, Philadelphia Phillies 85-77
NL Cental Chicago Cubs 85-77
Teams screwed over by playoff system:New York Mets 88-74, San Diego Padres 89-74, Seattle Mariners 88-74, Detroit Tigers 88-74
AL Central Chicago White Sox 89-74, NL West LAD 84-78
Teams screwed over by playoff system: New York Yankees 89-73, Toronto Blue Jays 86-76, Minnesota Twins 88-75, New York Mets 89-73, Florida Marlins 84-77, Houston Astros 86-75, St. Louis Cardinals 86-76,
Baseball support has been eroding slowly over the years and I suggest now is the time for change.
MLB should go to a conference format allow 6 or 8 teams from the NL and AL respectively into the playoffs. Not only will this allow more teams the opportunity to compete for the championship but most importantly it will allow smaller market teams fans to experience MLB playoffs. The playoffs are an exciting experience for any fan and what better way to increase baseball support than to have more cities experience it every year.
In 1992 and 1993 you couldn't buy a seat at the Sky Dome; home of the Blue Jays. Now they can't sell half of the tickets unless the Yankees or Red Sox's are in town. Give the small market teams a chance to taste the playoffs and you will give the teams a chance to sell more tickets, and build a stronger fan base. After all no one likes a loser but everyone likes a winner. In 2008 7 teams alone were a more wiinign team than a team that made the playoffs.
The Jays and many other small market teams (large as well) do have winning years and it is time to recognize them.