In 2008, when the New York Yankees did the unthinkable and missed the postseason, team co-owner Hank Steinbrenner made an off-the-cuff comment about the best teams being shut out of the playoffs because of their tougher division, while a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers (with an paltry 84-78 record) made it in.

It was humorous because he was comparing his team to one in a different league, where his argument would have held a little more water had he complained about the Chicago White Sox making the postseason even though they finished a half-game worse than the Bronx Bombers.

However, upon looking at the current American League standings through play last night,  I’m starting to think Steinbrenner was on to something.

Currently, the top four teams in the American League East (Tampa Bay, New York, Boston, and Toronto) have the four-best records in the AL.

I don’t expect this be the case the entire season, I mean we are only on the cusp of June here, but it raises an interesting point.

Should the top four teams make the postseason regardless of the division winners, or should MLB create more wild card spots to accommodate teams that are deserving?

I’ll answer my second question first.

No, MLB commissioner Bud Selig shouldn’t even think about adding spots to the playoffs. Major League Baseball, in my opinion, has the best postseason, because you have to be really good to make it in. There aren’t eight spots like in hockey or basketball, where teams with below .500 records routinely make it in.

Rather, I come to my minefield of a question: Should the top four MLB teams regardless of their division be awarded a playoff berth?

In all of the big four of American sports, the regular season division winners clinch an automatic postseason bid. It’s tradition and principle, it’s fair and correct, as it’s that team’s reward for vanquishing its rivals.

However, unlike baseball, the other sports have plenty of wild card spots to reward those teams who were good, but not quite as good as the divisional winners.

In baseball, you have one wild card spot, which means only the best of the non-division winners make it. It seems fair enough.  Well, that is unless you play in the AL East.

It doesn’t happen that often, in fact the last time it happened was in 2008, but the AL East has consistently had two teams in the postseason—six of the last nine to be exact. 

And this year the top four teams thus far are all from the East. I doubt it will stay that way, but what if it does? What then?

I think if MLB wants to have a more competitive postseason, they should allow the top four teams, regardless of division titles, make it into the postseason, or simply disband the AL East.

Move Tampa and Toronto out (sorry Baltimore you have to stay), and bring in a team(s) that is normally competitive, and that spends money. It could be from another AL division, or from the National League.

Maybe by moving the Blue Jays to the NL East, you give them a fighting chance at the postseason, while moving Tampa to say, the AL Central, gives MLB the opportunity to have the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays in the postseason at the same time.

Who would I pluck from the NL? The Mets of, course. They already, unofficially at least, compete with the Yankees every year for the hearts and minds of NYC dwellers, so why not have them compete in the same division?

As a baseball fan, I want to see the most competitive postseason possible—even if it flies in the face of tradition. I mean, let’s face it, we do it all the time in sports. 

It used to be tradition to only play day games, not to travel to the West Coast, not to play indoors, and the list goes on and on. But we bucked those traditions for the betterment and advancement of the game.

I know most years the three division winners will normally be amongst the the top four in the league and make the postseason, but for those off years that they aren’t, should we really punish really good teams because they are in a tough division, and reward average teams because their division is terrible?

Let the debate begin.

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