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Eastern League Switches To Split-Season Format

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Tim Tebow at the 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The Eastern League on Thursday announced it would switch to the split-season format currently in place in every minor league outside of Triple-A.

Instead of letting division and wild card races play out all season long, the standings will reset after the halfway mark. The winner of each half will make the playoffs. In the event that one team dominates a division throughout both halves, the second playoff berth would go to the team that had the next best full-season record.

The obvious advantage of the system is that it helps get more teams in contention for postseason spots. Take, for example, the race that played out in the short-season Northwest League in 2018. Hillsboro boat-raced the competition in the South Division for the entire season, coasting to victory in both halves. If the league had followed the full-season format, Salem-Keizer would have won the wild card and made the playoffs.

Instead, Eugene, which finished with the worst overall record but the second-best record in the division in the second half, got the second spot. Naturally, the Emeralds proceeded to sweep the playoffs and claim their second NWL championship in three seasons. With a full-season format, the team misses the playoffs entirely.

Per the league's announcement, the Eastern League will end its first half on the 76th day of the season (June 18) and commence the second half on the 77th day (June 19).

Under the new format, each division's first-half winner will host games three through five of the Division Series. Home dates in the Championship Series will alternate; the Eastern Division will host the first two games in odd-numbered years while the Western Division gets the first two home games in even-numbered years.

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