By TYLER CADY
Niagara Gazette — By winning their division and having the league’s second best record, the Athletics earned themselves the opportunity to have an elimination game before ever taking their home field at the Oakland Coliseum.
With the addition of a second wild card slot in the playoffs this season, the two teams that earned “home-field advantage” in each league now play the first two games of the divisional round on the road for scheduling purposes.
While it may ease travel schedules, it doesn’t reward the teams who finished atop their respective leagues after 162 games.
Oakland isn’t playing against the Astros, Cubs or any of the other dreadful teams that have spent the better part of the summer biding time until the season was over.
Now the A’s are playing teams that have been fighting for playoff positions until the very last day of the season.
Baseball, of all sports, should be putting value on its regular season. Isn’t that why they play an absurdly long 162 games? To ensure that the teams that make it earned their way in by finishing the gauntlet.
Congratulations Oakland fans, your team earned itself no margin for error.
While this new structure doesn’t change the amount of home games each team receives, it changes the entire feel of a playoff series.
One could argue that good teams should be able to take care of business at home and shouldn’t be intimidated on the road, but winning three in a row, in the playoffs, is tough no matter where you’re playing.
It’s not fair to the top division winners if losing a division is a reward.