MLB has become a joke. until they have a salary cap and a salary floor and force international players to enter the league through the draft, it's a league of "haves" and "have nots". sure, any team can catch lightning in a bottle and enjoy a 2-4 year window of success until their best players reach free agency and go to the Yankees or Red Sox or Cardinals or Mets or whomever. however, at that point it's time to start all over again with the rebuild which will take 8-10 years if everything goes ok.
i can already tell you which teams are highly probable to make the playoffs year in and year out.
that's the NY, Chicago, and LA TV markets, plus 3 other teams willing to outspend everyone else on free agents.
there will be 10 playoff spots starting this year. most years, 7 or 8 of those spots will be filled by the teams i've listed above.
the other teams in their "windows" right now would be the Phillies, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Texas, and maybe Arizona. Milwaukee is done (back to rebuilding for them). everyone else is a 2nd division team. this is the way MLB wants it because it gives them the best chance of a WS with teams from the top 3 or 4 markets in the country.
anyone who thinks the Red Sox missing the playoffs on the last day in 2011 didn't have something to do with Selig and the owners adding another WC team to the AL and NL is not living in reality.
baseball is a great sport. greater than football. there's an elegance to it that no other sport has. but the NFL is a much more fair and competitive league now and that's why the NFL has overtaken MLB in popularity. the current MLB system is great for Yankees and Red Sox and Mets (et. al.) fans, but not so much for anyone else.