Like any other professional sport, the baseball season culminates with the best teams in the league advancing to the post-season. The baseball playoffs typically begin in mid to late September and last all through October, sometimes into early November. The top teams from each division, plus one wild card from the American league and one from the National league, advance to the baseball playoffs. Each team vies to reach the World Series, in which one American league team and one National league team compete for the title of world champion.
The playoffs happen in three rounds. Since there are three divisions in the American League and three in the National League, there are three division champions at the end of the year in each league. This necessitated the creation of the wild card team – a team that did not win any division but had the best record among all teams who did not make the playoffs. In each league, the four playoff teams are then paired up to play a best-of-five series: the wild card team plays the division champion with the best record, and the remaining two teams form the other pair. The winner of each division series goes on to play in the championship series.
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The playoffs continue with the league championship series, which is a best-of-seven series between the two winners in each league of the division series. This is the second step toward advancing to the World Series. The winner of the league championship series is deemed league champion and advances to the World Series to face the champion of the other league. During the World Series portion of the playoffs, the champion of the American league and the champion of the National league square off in a best-of-seven series to determine the world champion.
In each series within the baseball playoffs, home team advantage is determined by record. For example, in the division series, games one and two are played at the home of the team with the better record. The third and, if necessary, fourth game are played at the home of the team with a poorer record. The fifth game, if necessary, goes back to the home of the team with the better record. In the World Series portion of the baseball playoffs, the games are similarly staggered between the two teams among the seven games.