Now that the 1987 baseball season is over, it is time for major league baseball to reflect on the way that it chooses its world champion. At the risk of stating the obvious, I submit that it is time to install a system of postseason play that makes sense.

A system that makes sense would have each league's two division champions play the two other teams (in either division) that have the best records, with the winners of those series playing each other for the pennant. Thus, the two best teams in baseball at least would be assured of playoff berths. (This year, based on their records, the two best teams in baseball were the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays; only one of these played postseason ball.)

Under a system that makes sense, in the first round of the playoffs the division winner with the better record would play the nondivision winner with the worse record. Granted, if such a system had been installed this year, Toronto may have been tempted to dog its last series with Detroit in hopes of avoiding hot Milwaukee in the playoffs, instead playing the "lowly" Minnesota Twins. But I think we can safely assume that such tactics would backfire as often as not.

Under a system that makes sense, only the New York Yankees would have bragging rights about not making the playoffs with a better record than Minnesota, a team that did make them.

But would the installation of a system that makes sense violate the hallowed traditions of baseball? After all, we're talking about change here. On the contrary, such a change would return us to those traditions. As in a return to the traditional 154-game regular season -- with the difference made up by the additional seven-game series that an extra round of playoffs would require.

This would both shorten the seemingly interminable regular season and inject drama toward the end of the season via the increased number of teams with at least a shred of a chance of making the playoffs as of, say, August or September.

Indeed, to install a system that makes sense simply would be to fine tune the (sensible) violation of baseball tradition that occurred in 1969 when an expanion in the number of teams playing major league baseball made the establishment of divisions necessary. No one foresaw then how unequal two divsions could become.

Who would benefit from a system that makes sense?


Fans likely would root more enthusiastically for their teams if prospects for postseason play were not dead as of the all-star break. Indeed, the increased suspense and drama at the end of the regular season would probably serve to enhance fan interest in general and at least double the number of fans with specific reason to hope.

The owners would benefit from greater fan interest (reap increased attendance and more television revenues) both during the regular season, when playoff races become interesting, and during postseason play, when additional playoff series occur.

And the players, who don't get paid on a per-game basis but do get rewarded when their teams make it to the postseason, are unlikely to object.

Neil Stoloff Arlington

Ban Series Umpires

Lawless throws to Lindeman on one hop before Puckett reaches first . . . the call is "Safe." Coleman throws to Lake at home to get Baylor whose foot slides across home before the waist-high tag . . . the call is "Out." Lindeman dives for a ball on the line in front of first, the home plate umpire doesn't move, the first base umpire makes the call . . . "Foul ball."

Magrane takes the throw from Lindeman and beats Gagne to the bag, touching it with his right toe . . . the call is "Safe." Herr is caught in a rundown, Hrbek prevents him from getting back to first with a body block, Viola takes the throw behind the first base bag and tags Herr as he is standing on the bag . . . the call is "Out."

No folks, this is not a Sunday afternoon sandlot game. This is the World Series' seventh and final game.

Crew chief Dave Phillips and his crew should be banned from baseball. This game climaxed their comedy of errors throughout the World Series. Many calls were missed as shown by the replays, obvious calls at that. They stated in most cases that they were in the wrong position to make the call. Why weren't they in the right position if these are the major leagues' best? An expanded strike zone?

They made a shambles of a very hard-played and entertaining series. The Twins and Cardinals gave well over 100 percent. Those clowns in blue and black gave about 1/10 of one percent.

I give them a Jeffrey Leonard "flap down" for their efforts.

Randy Lightle

Falls Church

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