If league hits 9, should PBL expand playoffs?

Posted January 22, 2010

If league hits 9, should PBL expand playoffs?

Obviously there is still plenty of time before the 2010 season begins, to discard and re-think last year’s fall plans of all six PBL franchises returning, and three new ones joining. But if the stars align, and nine teams hit the field in May, could or should we see a PBL playoff format expand?

In 2004, the league expanded to a decade-high eight teams. At the time, a couple younger teams proposed expanding the playoffs to five or six teams. In hindsight, it ended up being the right decision to leave the playoff format as it was; the top four teams qualifying and then playing off in two best of three series before a championship best of three finale.

Six teams qualifying, in my opinion, out of eight, would have been too many. Five made sense so we could keep the ratio somewhat the same, but it added an extra game and could have made playoff dates staggered if 4 plays 5 and 2 plays 3 to start the playoffs – therefore putting the top team at a disadvantage if they had to go the distance as 2 or 3 rest up.

Chipman folded that year midseason, and the following few years saw the number of teams hover between five and six. But now, with the possibility of three more teams, and the highest number of franchises since I started playing in this league 12 years ago, it could be time to revisit the playoff format for this season.

If everything works out – which it never seems to anyway – and nine teams begin the season, a six-team playoff format would keep the ratio the exact same as before. 2:3. It would also give the top two teams a bye on opening night (Hopefully a Tuesday) and possibly give us some amazing one-game wildcard playoff games between 3 and 6 / 4 and 5. 1 and 2 would have their aces rested for Thursday, adding to the excitement down the stretch with not only playoff races, but races for first-round byes.

It also would mean less pressure to make the playoffs, in a league that should remain relatively recreational during the regular season. Four out of nine teams means your team would likely have to finish above .500 to make the playoffs. I’d hate to see it turn into a league where guys are getting benched in mid-season so teams can hopefully stay in playoff contention.

The North Central Alberta Baseball League (which I know runs things a little differently for a variety of reasons) usually has between 8 and 10 teams. Their playoffs are extremely hard to qualify for, which probably makes sense for them with their longer regular season and weekend playoffs.

However, in the spirit of the PBL to keep its history and rural recreational roots alive, it may be worth visiting the playoff format in the future, even if it’s only when the league reaches more than eight teams.

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them.

Posted on January 22, 2010 by Jason Buzzell

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