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Division Series

Division Series

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In baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

, the Division Series is the official name for the first round of the Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 playoffs
Major League Baseball postseason
The Major League Baseball postseason is an elimination tournament held after the conclusion of Major League Baseball's regular season. It consists of one best-of-five series and two best-of-seven series...

. Currently, a total of four series are played in this opening round, two each for both the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 and the National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

.

1981 season


The first use of the term "Division Series" dates from 1981
1981 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Yankees ; Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, and Steve Yeager, co-MVPsNOTE: Due to a strike in mid-season, the season was divided into a first half and a second half...

, when due to a mid-season players' strike, that season was divided into two halves, with the winners of each half from each division playing one another in a best-of-five series to decide which team would represent that division in the League Championship Series
League Championship Series
The League Championship Series is the official name for a round of postseason play in Major League Baseball which has been conducted since 1969...

 (this format being common in minor-league baseball). But because the two halves of the season were independent of one another, the winner of the first half had no real incentive to try to win the second half as well (since, unlike in the minor leagues, if the same team did win both halves it was not given a bye into the next round), and a team that won neither half could have actually had the best overall record in the division; indeed, the latter actually occurred, as the Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....

 not only had the best won-lost record (in both halves of the season combined) among the six teams in the National League's Western Division (to which they belonged at the time), but the Reds had the best overall winning percentage in all of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, yet did not advance to the playoffs because they did not finish first in either of the two halves. This was the only Division Series which actually consisted of teams from the same division playing each other.

1994


In 1994
1994 in baseball
-Headline events of the year:As a result of a players' strike, the MLB season ends prematurely on August 11, 1994. No postseason is played...

, both the National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

 and the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 realigned, with the number of divisions in both increasing from two to three (with fewer teams in each). At the same time, the number of teams qualifying for baseball's postseason was doubled, from four to eight; henceforth the three first-place teams from each league's divisions would reach the postseason, along with one wild card
Wild card (sports)
The term wild card refers broadly to a tournament or playoff berth awarded to an individual or team that has not qualified through normal play.-International sports:...

 team from each league (the latter being the second-place finisher with the best regular-season record). However, this expanded playoff format would not make its debut until the following year, because a players' strike, which began on August 12, 1994, led to the cancellation of that season's playoffs and World Series
1994 World Series
The 1994 World Series was canceled on September 14 of that year due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which had begun on August 12...

 (and caused the 1995
1995 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Atlanta Braves over Cleveland Indians ; Tom Glavine, MVP*All-Star Game, July 11 at The Ballpark in Arlington: National League, 3-2; Jeff Conine, MVP-Other champions:...

 regular season to have 18 fewer games for each team than normal).

Home-field advantage


Throughout its existence, the Division Series has been best-of-five; however, both the method of awarding home-field advantage in the series and which games the team getting the advantage would host were changed in 1998
1998 in baseball
-Headline events of the year:*Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Greg Vaughn all hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break and engage in a historic chase for Roger Maris's single-season record of 61 home runs...

.

1995–1997


Originally, the Eastern, Central and Western Division champions rotated home-site priority, with the two of them getting the extra home game and the third one and the wild card not. The 2-3 format was used in which the team with the disadvantage hosted the first two games and the team with the advantage hosting the remaining game(s). This meant the team with the disadvantage had absolutely no chance of winning the series at home. A similar format had also been used for the League Championship Series
League Championship Series
The League Championship Series is the official name for a round of postseason play in Major League Baseball which has been conducted since 1969...

 from 1969-1984. It also allowed wild card teams the unusual luxury of starting a series at home and possibly having home field advantage in a three game series.

This format was changed in 1998 because there was a 39.5% chance each year that at least one of the leagues would have their top two division champions meet in the Division Series, allowing the worst division champion to have the "advantage" of playing the wild card.

1998–present


Since 1998, the two division champions with the best regular-season records have been accorded with the home field advantage. Also, the format changed to a 2-2-1 layout with the team having home-field advantage hosting the first, second and (if necessary) fifth games; with this newer format, the lower seeded team actually gets two chances out of three to win the series on its home field although the higher seeded team hosts three out of five games overall. In both the AL and the NL the three division champions are automatically given the top three seeds, seeded 1-3 based on record, and the wildcard is given the 4th seed regardless of record. In both the AL and the NL, the 1 seed plays the 4 seed and the 2 seed plays the 3 seed, unless the 1 and 4 seed are in the same division. Because teams from the same division cannot play each other in the first round, if the normal matchups would cause this, then the 1 seed plays the 3 seed, and the 2 seed plays the 4 seed. In all cases the 1 and 2 seed have home field advantage. Beginning in 2007, the 1 seed of the league that wins the All-Star game is given another advantage, being allowed to choose their schedule for the series. They can either choose to have an extra day off (usually between games 1 and 2) during the division series and start a day early, or start a day late, with one less off day (only having travel days off, between games 2 and 3, and if necessary 4 and 5). The American League's best record received this option from 2007–2009 and the National League's best record will receive it in 2010.

Wild card teams


A wild card team can only have home-field advantage in the World Series if their league won the all-star game. Other than that, they can never receive home-field advantage in a series, even if it has a better record than the division champion it plays (which would occur if the teams with the two best records come from the same division; see below).

Currently, the three division champions in each league receive the top three seeds, with the wild card team receiving the fourth seed. The teams are bracketed by the following criteria:
  • The wild card plays the highest-seeded division champion from outside its division;
  • The other two division champions meet;
  • Home-field is determined by seeding.

Criticism of scheduling


There has been some criticism on how Major League Baseball schedules Division Series games. Teams with large national fan followings like the New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 are almost always scheduled to play in prime time
Prime time
Prime time or primetime is the block of broadcast programming during the middle of the evening for television programing.The term prime time is often defined in terms of a fixed time period—for example, from 19:00 to 22:00 or 20:00 to 23:00 Prime time or primetime is the block of broadcast...

 at 8 p.m. ET
North American Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

/5 p.m. PT
Pacific Time Zone
The Pacific Time Zone observes standard time by subtracting eight hours from Coordinated Universal Time . The clock time in this zone is based on the mean solar time of the 120th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory. During daylight saving time, its time offset is UTC-7.In the United States...

 to generate the highest TV ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

. As a result, West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 teams generally have to play on the road at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT when many of their fans are unable to watch the game because they are at work or school. Conversely, when games on the West Coast are played at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, many fans on the East Coast are unable to watch a game in its entirety, due to games ending around 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT, while most West Coast fans are able to watch the entire game.

There has also been criticism about the best-of-five format that the Division Series follows, specifically when a team is down in the series 2 games to 0. In the World Series
World Series
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...

 or League Championship Series, coming back from 2-0 is not nearly as difficult as it is in the Division Series, due to the World Series and League Championship Series both being best-of-seven. Because the team that finished with a better record plays Games 1 & 2 in their home park, it is not uncommon for a team to be down 2-0 very quickly. Conversely, if the team with home-field advantage loses games one and two, they are forced to win the next three games, the first two of which are on the road. In 2007 and 2008, the Division Series was led 2-0 in all eight of the series over those two years, and all of those teams went on to win the series in 4 games or less. The only teams to rally from a 2-0 Division Series deficit are the 1995 Seattle Mariners
1995 Seattle Mariners season
The Seattle Mariners' 1995 season was the 19th in the history of the franchise. The team finished with a regular season record of 79–66, tying the California Angels for first in the American League West...

, 1999 Boston Red Sox
1999 Boston Red Sox season
The 1999 Boston Red Sox season involved the Red Sox' finishing 2nd in the American League East with a record of 94 wins and 68 losses. Pedro Martinez won the AL Cy Young Award and become the second pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues....

, 2001 New York Yankees
2001 New York Yankees season
The New York Yankees' 2001 season was the 99th season for the Yankees. The team finished with a record of 95-65 finishing 13.5 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Joe Torre. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. Roger Clemens had sixteen straight wins, tying an American...

, and 2003 Boston Red Sox
2003 Boston Red Sox season
The Boston Red Sox' 2003 season included the Red Sox attempting to win the American League East division, the ALDS, and the American League.-Offseason:...

.

Billy Beane's proposal


Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

 general manager Billy Beane
Billy Beane
William Lamar "Billy" Beane III is a former Major League Baseball player and the current general manager and minority owner of the Oakland Athletics...

 has been critical of the seeding of the Division Series. He has called for the Division Series to be seeded from 1-4 and bracketed strictly by regular-season record, without regard to whether a team has won its division and without regard to the division of the wild card team. In summary, Billy Beane's proposal rewards strong wild card teams at the expense of weak division winners.

Had Beane's proposal been in place in 2006
2006 in baseball
-Headline Event of the Year:*The 2006 World Baseball Classic final 4 teams are Japan, Cuba, Korea and the Dominican Republic, with the United States at 3–3 failing to qualify for the semi-finals. Under the leadership of manager Sadaharu Oh and veterans Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan ...

, both leagues would have seen Division Series matchups between a division champion and a wild-card team from its division, which is impossible under present rules. If it had been in place in 1998
1998 in baseball
-Headline events of the year:*Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Greg Vaughn all hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break and engage in a historic chase for Roger Maris's single-season record of 61 home runs...

, 2004
2004 in baseball
-Headline events of the year:*The Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since , ending the Curse of the Bambino.*With 262 hits, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners breaks George Sisler's record of 257. Suzuki also sets the record for most singles in a season, with 225.*2004 also marked the final...

, or 2007
2007 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*Regular Season Champions*World Series Champion – [Boston Red Sox]*Postseason – October 2 to October 28Click on any series score to link to that series' page....

, a wild-card (the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

 in the first two cases, and the Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are a Major League Baseball team based in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1991, they started play in 1993 and are in the West Division of the National League. The team is named after the Rocky Mountains...

 in the third case) with the second-best record in their league, would have had home-field advantage in the Division Series over a division champion, which is also impossible under present rules.

See also

  • MLB division winners
    Major League Baseball division winners
    This is a list of division champions and wild-card winners in Major League Baseball.-Four-division alignment :*Team names link to the season in which each team playedYearAL EastAL WestNL EastNL West...

  • American League Division Series
    American League Division Series
    In Major League Baseball, the American League Division Series determines which two teams from the American League will advance to the American League Championship Series...

  • National League Division Series
    National League Division Series
    In Major League Baseball, the National League Division Series determine which two teams from the National League will advance to the National League Championship Series...

  • MLB postseason
    Major League Baseball postseason
    The Major League Baseball postseason is an elimination tournament held after the conclusion of Major League Baseball's regular season. It consists of one best-of-five series and two best-of-seven series...

  • List of Major League Baseball franchise postseason streaks
  • List of Major League Baseball franchise postseason droughts
  • List of most common Major League Baseball postseason matchups
  • List of National League pennant winners
  • List of American League pennant winners
  • League Championship Series
    League Championship Series
    The League Championship Series is the official name for a round of postseason play in Major League Baseball which has been conducted since 1969...

  • American League Championship Series
    American League Championship Series
    In Major League Baseball, the American League Championship Series , played in October, is a round in the postseason that determines the winner of the American League pennant...

     (ALCS)
  • National League Championship Series
    National League Championship Series
    In Major League Baseball, the National League Championship Series is a round in the postseason that determines who wins the National League pennant and advances to Major League Baseball's championship, the World Series, facing the winner of the American League Championship Series. The reigning...

     (NLCS)
  • World Series
    World Series
    The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...


External links