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What If?: Three-Way World Series

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  • What If?: Three-Way World Series

    OK, suppose the Pacific Coast League had become a third major league in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as seemed likely to some people at the time.

    How to play a three-way World Series?

    From various sources (mainly Baseball Digest and google news archives) it seems there were two basic ideas with some variants.

    1. Round Robin World Series.

    Walter O'Malley had this idea. The three teams play round-robin. Four losses eliminates you. The last team standing is the winner. This will take 8-11 games.

    Given the limitations of travel in that era, this doesn't seem practical unless the Series is played at a single site.

    2. One Team Gets a Bye, the Others Play a Preliminary Series

    The question here is, who gets the bye?

    One idea - rotating bye between the three leagues.

    Another idea (Red Smith, among others) - take the pennant-winner with the overall best record. This could add some interest if one or more pennant-races have turned into runaways. The bye still might not be assured. This could even result in a special playoff for the bye position if records are equal.

    Another idea - the league winning the previous World Series gets the bye.



    Thoughts? Any other ways to do this? Any refinements to the above?

  • #2
    How about this arrangement:

    Team A has the best season record, Team B has the second-best, and Team C the worst of the three. If more than one team has the same season record, no playoff game to determine seed is required. Instead break ties by ratio of runs scored to allowed, or something along those lines. A team which loses four games in the round-robin is eliminated from the championship.

    Round 1: Team C at Team B, 3 games (Team A has bye)
    Round 2: Team C at Team A, 3 games (if necessary)
    Round 3: Team B at Team A, 3 games (if necessary)
    Round 4: Team B at Team C and/or Team A at Team B/C
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    • #3
      Originally posted by DJC View Post
      How about this arrangement:

      Team A has the best season record, Team B has the second-best, and Team C the worst of the three. If more than one team has the same season record, no playoff game to determine seed is required. Instead break ties by ratio of runs scored to allowed, or something along those lines. A team which loses four games in the round-robin is eliminated from the championship.

      Round 1: Team C at Team B, 3 games (Team A has bye)
      Round 2: Team C at Team A, 3 games (if necessary)
      Round 3: Team B at Team A, 3 games (if necessary)
      Round 4: Team B at Team C and/or Team A at Team B/C
      Interesting. It does cut down on travel compared with the pure round-robin. I note that team C could sweep the first six games and still not have the Series mathematically locked up (thought they'd be heavy favorites!). Since team C has the worst season record, I guess that's the idea.

      One problem with this, as well as the some of the others is something noted in the first post in this recent thread:

      http://www.baseball-fever.com/showth...nded-THIS-YEAR

      "Byes are not made for baseball." Or, more generally, waiting around for other teams to finish isn't good for the team that waits. Team A in the above will probably be waiting the better part of week, figuring in travel days.

      And, yes, I think this was something well-understood circa 1950. I can't remember where I saw this, but wasn't someone in the American League upset about the National League's practice of best-2-of-3 pennant playoffs in the pure-pennant era? The AL team would have to cool its heels in the meantime. The AL, of course, played one-game tie-breakers (or rather, tie-breaker. It only happened once.)

      One advantage of the rotating-bye or previous-Series-winner-bye is that, with the bye-getting league known before the season starts, that league can schedule its season to finish at the time when the other two league should be finishing their preliminary series. The straight round-robin also avoids this problem (though, as I mentioned, would reasonably require a single-site World Series.)

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      • #4
        Two teams play a series with the third getting a bye, then the winner gets home field advantage against the third team. Use whatever method, rotating or first to clinch or best overall record.
        Last edited by brett; 03-17-2012, 02:24 PM.

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