On the heels of clinching an eighth consecutive National League West division title and the best record in all of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2020 postseason with one goal on their minds: to end a 31-year World Series drought.
The journey continues on Wednesday, when the club welcomes the Milwaukee Brewers to town for the start of a best-of-three NL Wild Card Series at Dodger Stadium.
In an ordinary season, the Brewers would not have qualified for the playoffs. They finished with a 29-31 record, yet still managed to secure the No. 8 seed due to the implementation of an expanded postseason.
They are one of the many teams benefitting from the new format this year, which increased the playing field from the usual 10 to 16 clubs.
Clayton Kershaw believes an expanded postseason only adds to the unpredictability in the month of October. “At the end of the day, with this playoff format, one through eight, it doesn’t matter what seed you are; you play three games against somebody,” he said.
“I don’t particularly like it, especially when you have a good team. It doesn’t really give us any advantage at all. But at the end of the day, it is a big build to the postseason and we’re getting ready for that.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed similar sentiments, but also sees some of the positives of an expanded postseason. “Probably not,” he said when asked if he favors such a format.
“I think with a shortened season as it is, it already brings in more variables and teams potentially, because of the smaller sample of games. But I understand the economics and fan interest.
“It makes more fanbases relevant to the end, and also to participate in the postseason. So I see both sides.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has already expressed an interest in keeping an expanded postseason intact for the foreseeable future, pending approval from the union.
If an increased playing field becomes the new norm, Dodgers president of baseball Andrew Friedman has his concerns. “Depending on where you are each given year, can change that answer,” he said on the potential hurdles an expanded postseason will present.
“My hope and expectation is we’re at or near the very top of the National League each year. I definitely think it introduces more variance. All things considered, is that a good thing or not?
“Obviously through my lens I’m only focused on it from a Los Angeles Dodgers perspective and not appreciating or thinking about the bigger picture. From my standpoint, I think anything that adds more variance is not an ideal thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
Turner recognizes benefits of expanded postseason
Like Roberts, Justin Turner understands why MLB is heavily in favor of an expanded postseason. “I think it’s something new. We knew there was going to be a lot of new stuff going into this season,” he recently said.
“It kind of came down to the wire but it kind of builds in a buffer in case a good team hits a little skid. It gives them a chance to get in, and more playoff baseball is I guess good for the fans.”
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