Last call: Best record is meaningless
Another season has gone by in which having the best record in your league doesn't matter. Most experts discussed how important it was for the Angels to get home-field advantage, and it ended up not meaning a thing.
Part of the reason is the best-of-five format. Part of it is that in the playoffs, all teams are pretty evenly matched, so home field doesn't mean as much. Would switching to a best-of-seven format for the first round really change things that much? Doubtful. The Angels would be down 3-1 today if it was a best-of-seven. The Cubs would be down 3-0.
Some have suggested keeping the division series a best-of-five format, but give the team with home-field advantage FOUR home games instead of three. So the Angels would have played the first two in Angel Stadium, then one game in Boston, with the last two games played in Angel Stadium again. That seems to be too big an advantage though. After all, the Angels won only five more games than Boston in the regular season.
What do you think? Should the division series go to a 2-1-2 format, with best record getting four home games?
Since 2000, the team with the best record in the AL and NL during the regular season has advanced to the World Series a grand total of four times in 18 chances. A look:
Year NL AL
2000 Giants (lost in division series) White Sox (lost in division series)
2001 Astros (lost in division series) Mariners (lost in ALCS)
2002 Braves (lost in division series) Yankees (lost in division series)
2003 Braves (lost in division series) Yankees (lost in World Series)
2004 Cardinals (lost in World Series) Yankees (lost in ALCS)
2005 Cardinals (lost in NLCS) White Sox (won World Series)
2006 Mets (lost in NLCS) Yankees (lost in division series)
2007 Diamondbacks (lost in NLCS) Red Sox (won World Series)
2008 Cubs (lost in division series) Angels (lost in division series)
But hey, even with the loss, the Angels are better off than second baseman Bucky LaGrange.
-- Houston Mitchell
Photo: Scot Shields leaves the field as the Boston Red Sox celebrate. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)