In the MLB there are two major leagues, the American League and the National League. In each of them, 15 teams compete, separated into 3 divisions, this time geographically. (East, Central and West).
The season, in which each team plays 162 games, begins in April and ends in September. In this season the teams of each league play against each other, and also against the teams of the other league in so-called inter-league matches. These inter-league matches were introduced in 1997.
From 2013 onwards 19 matches are played between the 4 remaining teams in the division (each division is composed of 5 teams) which makes a total of 76 matches, 6 or 7 matches against 10 teams from another division in the same league (66 matches) and 20 inter-league matches.
As you can see, it is not a European-style round robin, which makes it impossible for all the teams to compete on an equal footing, as some will have an easier time than others as they will have different opponents when it comes to reaching the post-season. However, this system of competition is part of the American sporting culture and also allows each league to continue to offer a certain degree of independence.
Just as more and more teams have been added to the MLB and the number of games played has increased, the post-season qualification process has also changed over time.
Currently, the 3 champions of the 3 divisions that make up each league qualify for the post-season. These 3 teams are joined by another team that comes out of the clash between the two teams with the best record (games won vs. games lost) called the Wild Card. In this way, the post-season consists of four rounds:
Wild Card: The two teams with the best record in each of the leagues, excluding the division champions, play one game to reach the next round.
Divisional Series: This leaves 4 teams from each league to play for the championship of their respective league. The team with the best record in each league plays the Wild Card team for a place in the championship final and the two remaining division champions play each other. This round consists of a 5-game series, with the winner being the team that manages to win 3 games.
Championship Series: The champion of each of the previous playoffs plays the other champion of their league in the Championship Series. It is played as a best of 7 games, so you have to win 4 games to become league champion.
World Series: The champion teams from both the American and National leagues play each other in a best-of-7 game World Series. The winner is popularly known as the World Series champion, or World Champion.
Many changes have been made to the competition system.
The competition system has undergone many changes throughout history and the latest one has not been without controversy. Until this latest change the Wild Card was automatically awarded to the best team among the teams that had not won the division championships.
The introduction of a match between first and second has raised some eyebrows, as it may lead to less excitement at the end of the regular season, as there are two qualified teams. In addition, it may seem unfair that a team that has won several games less has the chance to take away a divisional championship playoff spot in a single game.
And considering the number of variations and surprises in this sport, it is still a bit unfair to play it all in a single match, where, unlike in other sports, it is not clear who is the better team.
In any case, the system of competition is what it is, and that is what we will have to adapt to when betting on MLB.
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