The most popular sports league in the United States(sorry, I know BN is a baseball site) is the NFL. The NFL does some things very wrong, like the way they are handling the CTE and concsussion problem.(have you watched League of Denial yet?) However, Czar Goodall and the NFL do some things correctly...and the MLB could learn a thing or two.
After the Chargers dismantled the Colts last night (raise your hand if you saw that coming...), 21 of the 32 teams in the NFL are sitting with a record of .500 or better. Therefore 66 percent of the teams could be considered strong play-off contenders. Thus this sets up some interesting match-ups for the better part of the season(they just won't all be on Monday Night...sigh) In the NFC you have 10 teams fighting for 6 spots(2-3 Carolina could make it 11)...with only New Orleans and Seattle at 5-1. In the AFC you have 11 teams fighting for 6 spots, with the Chiefs and Broncos at 6-0, and the Patriots at 5-1. Statistically, the 5-1 and 6-0 teams have a much greater chance of taking a play-off spot, therefore you really have 8 teams fighting for 4 spots in the NFC and 8 teams fighting for 3 spots in the AFC.
...and they will fight, and it will be glorious for us to watch.
On June 6th of this year, a date almost equivalent to where we are currently in the NFL in terms of percentage of games played, there were only 15 MLB teams out of 30 who were at least at .500, or within 6 games of a division lead. (8 AL, 7 NL) There were 8 teams already 10 games behind their respective division leaders....27%. Keep in mind as well that 4 of the 10 "play-off" spots in the MLB of are those "we get at least 1 more game" wild-card variety.
NFL after 38 percent of season= 66% teams in the hunt, 18% slim chance(2-4 or less), 16% looking at next years draft.
MLB after 38 percent of season= 50% teams in the hunt, 23 % not quite out(the Dodgers were here!) and 27% wait until next year.
NFL has 75-80 percent of fans still with some hope, 20-25 percent hope-less.
MLB had 50-60 percent of fans still with hope, and close to 40 percent hope-less.
Now, I can be as old-schooly as any when it comes to baseball...but I think keeping more fans interested is generally a good idea. At least get rid of the silly 1-game play-off deal...play 3 or 5. Baseball is a great game...but they adapt and change at a glacial pace.
Feel free to shoot holes in all of these points...
...oh, and one more thing... the NFL is talking about expanding their play-offs.