We accountants are sensitive to scoring issues because that is what we do. In baseball scoring is so simple that you think it won’t matter but when you try to organize leagues and playoffs it gets complicated. Playoffs give us great theater but they are rarely fair. Most European soccer leagues have seasons that are perfectly fair but rarely provide much drama. Sure there are exceptions but they happen rarely. Soccer leagues like the Premiership are fair because they play a balanced schedule. Each team plays every other team home and away. The best record wins.
Baseball divisions can give us drama. This year we have the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals fighting it our for the division and wild cards. Over in the AL, the Cleveland Indians have, by far, the biggest division lead in baseball, 15.5 games with just 18 to play. They are certain to be in the playoffs. They are also in the weakest division in baseball, 80 games under 500 as a division. Cleveland has the fifth best record in the AL and five games go to the playoffs. They have a 1.5 game lead on Tampa Bay and Seattle. If the five best records went to the AL playoffs it would be and exciting three weeks in Cleveland, Tampa, and Seattle. Cleveland also benefits from a weaker schedule than Tampa Bay and Seattle because they play more games in the weakest division, the AL Central. There would also be some interesting seeding races within the top five. Unless some team collapses or another goes 18-0, the AL will have a pretty boring last three weeks whereas things are hoping in the NL. All three divisions and both wild cards are in doubt.
Divisions are working well in the NL. We have three dramas with the contending teams playing each other. In the AL the division set has eliminated most of the drama. It is possible Oakland might catch Houston in the AL West but both teams would still be in the playoffs. This year the AL shows the costs of divisions and the NL shows the benefits. We are glad we are not Tampa or Seattle fans.