After the spirit-crushing, frustration inducing events of last week, I just want to say this past weekend has been a godsend for football fans. As a lifelong football fan, the past 48 hours have given me a level of football nirvana I usually don’t see outside Super Bowl Sunday.
A big reason for this is the NFL’s new playoff format that it adopted last year. Instead of 12 teams, we now get 14 teams vying to become Super Bowl champion. Now, the NFL doesn’t take change lightly and it’s usually vehemently resisted by football purists.
After this past weekend, though, I imagine those people are just as delighted as I am with the results.
Seriously, how can you not? You get a triple header on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to midnight. Then, you get another triple header of playoff football the next day that goes just as long. These are not forgetful games, either. These are the playoffs. This is the best of the best the NFL produced this season and they’re all pushing for their chance at a Super Bowl.
On top of all that football glory, it’s still not over.
Later tonight, college football will play its national championship game. I don’t follow college football as closely as I do the NFL, but even I don’t doubt that these two schools have teams stacked with NFL talent. Some of these players are very likely to be top draft picks later this spring. As a football fan who doesn’t need many more reasons to watch, this is just icing on the cake.
After a year where so many things went wrong, I just want to take a moment to appreciate everything that went right. There’s still more playoff football to come. This is just the beginning and I’m looking to enjoy every second of it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make sure my cooler is stocked with beer for tonight’s championship game.
I know I don’t talk about baseball that much. Please don’t misconstrue that as me saying I don’t care for it. I love baseball as much as any guy who grew up playing catch with his dad in the back yard. Some of my fondest memories are of watching ball games with my dad and eating peanuts.
While I tend to get more excited about football, I still enjoy a beer and a ball game. However, there are some other reasons why I don’t get as excited about baseball as I do with football.
Some of that has to do with the duration of the season and how often it seems certain teams clinch their playoff spots weeks ahead of time. Most of it has to do with the playoff format, itself. That’s the one part of Major League Baseball that I’ve always had a problem with.
Compared to other sports, baseball has always been much more limited in terms of which teams make the playoffs and how those games are structured. For me, the playoffs never got exciting until the ALCS and the NLCS. That’s usually when the drama happens. The divisional rounds before it are just too forgettable.
This is what it looked like, just after the wild card rounds wrapped up.
Now, I know baseball is famous for having staunch traditionalists, but after following the wild card rounds, I have to say this.
The MLB should totally keep this format or, at the very least, keep most of it.
I love this new format. It really made the MLB playoffs feel exciting again. For once, I didn’t have to wait until the championship rounds to see some drama. As bad as 2020 has been for sports, this new tournament format might be the best thing that came out of it.
This new setup gives struggling teams a reason to keep playing in the regular season, even when they get into a skid. With this expanded format, there are more spots to fight for. The dominant teams will still get their spot, but now there are new opportunities for teams to sneak in and make an impact.
In baseball, that’s a big deal. I’ve been watching baseball long enough to know that any team can get hot at just the right time. Last year was a perfect example of it. The 2019 Washington Nationals are a perfect example of this. They had to get into the playoffs as a wild card team and go through heavyweights like the Dodgers en route to their first World Series title.
It can happen in baseball. Great teams can just have a bad day at the park or several. A wild card team can get hot and take that momentum to a championship. The Nationals sent a message to every team in the wild card round this year that it can happen to them, too.
Beyond the opportunity, it’s just more exciting. I know last year had a single-game elimination wild card, but I found that to be somewhat underwhelming. Like I said, any team can have a bad day at the ball park. Sometimes, quality teams just falter on a particular day. That sometimes means the lucky team wins instead of the better team.
I think a three-game playoff series fits perfectly. It helps ensure a team can win or lose on a single fluke. It also gives a team that falters in one game to make up for it the next. It’s a better way of determining who’s the better team in the long run.
Now, I know 2020 is a crazy year that has done lasting damage to the sports world. I don’t doubt that professional leagues are eager to go back to the way things were before the pandemic ruined so much.
However, I sincerely hope that Major League Baseball retains this new format for the postseason. I think it’ll do a lot of good for baseball and the sports world, in general. I know there are some logistical issues and I’m sure the players union will want to get their say. I believe there’s a way to do it and ensure everyone benefits.