Benefiting From Evolution

Feliz
In the beginning of modern era baseball, there were 8 teams in each league and no divisions. The two teams in the World Series were the two with the best records in each league. This format lasted until 1968, even though there were two expansion teams created in 1961 for the 1962 season (The Washington Senators/Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels – ironic, given the present day series going on).
1969 saw the creation of more teams and east and west divisions in each league. The ALCS was created as a best-of-five series between the top two teams in each division, in which the winner would proceed to the World Series. This system was created in order to remedy the inequities created by unbalanced schedules and too many teams competing for one pennant and a World Series appearance. The best-of-five format stuck, until 1985, when it became the best-of-seven series we know today.

After even more expansion, 1994 finally brought baseball fans the ALDS, a best-of-five series, and the playoff format that most of the people of my generation (mid-late 20’s) grew up with and remember today. 1994 also saw the creation of the 3 division system we know (in which each division winner was rewarded with a playoff appearance in the first round) AND, more importantly, the creation of the wild card team. The only change to this system is the addition of a “one and done” type game for the top two teams in the wild card hunt, implemented in 2012.

Why is it important to reflect on the evolution of the playoff system, you may ask?

The Rangers, under the first two systems, would have missed out in 5 of 6 the seasons they’ve actually made the playoffs (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, and 2012). We’ve been so very lucky to witness those glorious years, in which 5 of 6 brought division championships with them to Texas, and many people my age and younger may not truly realize how lucky they are to have the current system in place in the MLB.

          1996
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 CLE 99 62 .615
2 NYY 92 70 .568
3 TEX 90 72 .556
4  BAL 88 74 .543
5  SEA 85 76 .528
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.
            1998
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 NYY 114 48 .704
2  BOS 92 70 .568
3 CLE 89 73 .549
4 TEX 88 74 .543
5  TOR 88 74 .543
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.
          1999
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 NYY 98 64 .605
2 CLE 97 65 .599
3 TEX 95 67 .586
4  BOS 94 68 .580
5  OAK 87 75 .537
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.
          2010
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 TBR 96 66 .593
2  NYY 95 67 .586
3 MIN 94 68 .580
4 TEX 90 72 .556
5  BOS 89 73 .549
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.
            2011
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 NYY 97 65 .599
2 TEX 96 66 .593
3 DET 95 67 .586
4  TBR 91 71 .562
5  BOS 90 72 .556
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.
          2012
Rk Tm W L W-L%
1 NYY 95 67 .586
2 OAK 94 68 .580
3  TEX 93 69 .574
4  BAL 93 69 .574
5  TBR 90 72 .556
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:View Original Table
Generated 7/30/2013.

This isn’t a grumpy, “back in my day” type admonishment, but simply a reminder to cherish the moments that make it worth it to be invested in a team over 162+.

Speaking of glorious moments, I’m going to celebrate the absolute mess out of that glorious walk-off win, courtesy of our hero:

Picture

Christian Petersen, Getty Images
Sarah Powers is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. She can be reached at sarah.powers@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @Power_Play86.
Sarah Powers

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