Postseason Reform Is a Bad Idea

With the upcoming collective bargaining agreement set to occur, Major League Baseball is considering some ground-breaking changes that could change the course of baseball for years to come.

ESPN reports that Major League Baseball could make a series of changes to the 2012 regular season and postseason. Changes could include shortening the regular season, making the Division Series a best-of-seven series, and increasing the amount of Wild-Card teams.

Changes to the 2011 regular season and postseason are unlikely, and would be minor.

These changes would be bad for baseball. If anything, by the time the World Series comes around, people are tired of watching baseball, and that has led to the declining television ratings for the postseason. Adding games to the postseason would only worsen that issue.

Adding more Wild Card teams would also have harmful effects on the game. Currently, many teams clinch the postseason with a lot of time remaining in the season. With more chances to make it to the postseason, the possibility of a useless, boring September would be only increase.

The NFL and NBA have many more teams make the postseason than baseball does, an argument being used by supporters of postseason reform. Both sports have considerably less games than Major League Baseball does, so it makes sense that more teams should make the postseason. Furthermore, there have been many cases in the NBA where teams who clearly don’t deserve to make the postseason end up making it regardless.

The one change that would make sense is to shorten the regular season. However, the Players Union has said that it is unlikely, because teams would lose revenue.

I am the last person to feel bad for Major League Baseball in this regard. True, shaving 10 games off the regular season would cause teams to lose millions of dollars, but that is the equivalent of me losing 25 cents. Even so, I really couldn’t care less about how much excess money is going into the pockets of these already wealthy men and women.

Finally, all of these arguments are aimed at increasing revenue for Major League Baseball. If this is going to continue to be their objective, we might as well send Alex Rodriguez to law school, and Albert Pujols to medical school. In other words, baseball should be shying away from a business aspect, not embracing it.

Baseball is a business, I do not doubt that. But too often, people involved in the sport feel they are entitled to much more than they deserve. That alone has been — and will be — very harmful to the sport.

Enough increasing revenue. Baseball is supposed to be fun for the fans, and fun for the players, not a spontaneous money-making machine. It may just be possible that Derek Jeter doesn’t need a spare gold-plated hubcap after all.

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19 Responses to Postseason Reform Is a Bad Idea

  1. AnjaKJ says:

    Totally agree with most of this. The idea of anything that lengthens the baseball season further, just for the sake of profit, is quite repugnant to me.

    I'm not adverse to the LDS being a best of seven series since I've always thought it should be one, the same as the LCS and World Series. But only if at least one three-game series was shaved off the regular season to accommodate it. I'd actually like to see the regular season shortened by more than three games – ten to twelve games off of it would be preferable. November baseball should go back to being a rarity rather than a yearly occurrence.

    • Do you agree with most of what he's said or are you just against November baseball? Because most of the changes they are talking about are possible without November baseball.

      • AnjaKJ says:

        I do agree with Jess on most of the points – more wild cards would be detrimental, not just because the extra games required to reduce the teams to one representative per league would extend the season, but also because because it would diminish the honour of reaching the postseason and would devalue the World Series – there is already enough debate when a wild card wins the WS now, let alone when the lowest PCT wild card wins if there is more than one.

        Using the term 'November baseball' was more a euphemism for the fact that the season seems to end later and later each year. As much as I love the sport I do feel the season goes on for too long for most fans and that fatigue sets in. Jess said it – the ratings for the postseason have been in decline for a while now. Why? Because people have tired of baseball by the time the postseason arrives, never mind that the World Series has to compete for attention with the NFL and NBA.

  2. Wouldn't the players union be for a shorter season? That would mean less work days for them. Usually people are in support of working less.

    Also, wouldn't adding another wild-card team get people more interested because it would mean more teams competing for a playoff spot. Meaning that there would be more fan bases rooting later in the season. You are right, there would be some teams that clinch sooner, but I think overall it would keep more teams involved later.

    • Jess K. Coleman says:

      The Players Union is for a shorter season. But they recognized that MLB would not go for it. More teams in the postseason would just mean more games, less talent, and thus worse games.

  3. I don't think anybody is talking about 16 teams in the playoffs here. There are 8 now, the idea is that there would be 10. Wild-card teams are very capable of winning the World Series now, I doubt there would be a problem if they added 1 or even 2 more.

    I mean, look at it this way, the Rangers had the worst record of any playoff team and they are probably going to win it all.

  4. For the record, I am not exactly for or against this idea yet. I am still giving it thought. I would really like to know exactly what they plan first before I pass judgment. One thing I will stick to, no November baseball.

  5. Kennith says:

    "These changes would be bad for baseball. If anything, by the time the World Series comes around, people are tired of watching baseball, and that has led to the declining television ratings for the postseason. Adding games to the postseason would only worsen that issue."

    This is just your opinion ,this is not the truth.

    for those people who really loves watching baseball,more games ,more fun.Why would they be tired of watching baseball?

    this makes NO sense at all.

  6. Mike S. says:

    I'm old school. Very (of course, I'm in my late 40's). But I still don't like the wild card. I don't like three-tiered playoffs (and REALLY hate it when announcers compare postseason stats across three levels, like Jeter's or Bernie's to a Mantle's, who only had ONE level—the World Series). I don't like three divisions or interleague play, or a division (AL West) which only has four teams. So you can imagine what I think of this proposal. I hate it.

  7. Bronx Knight says:

    I wouldn't mind adding a few more wild card teams. I think the wild card has helped the game by keeping so many teams close to the playoffs late into the season. But I would make it harder for the wild cards to go all the way by adding a short first-round wild card round, with the division winners getting a bye.

    It would work like this:

    1. Add two more wild cards in each league, for a total of three.

    2. Three-way, round-robin mini tournament, where each wild card plays one game against each of the other two. Only one wild card can advance (usually, this will be the team that wins both of its games). No days off, so the mini tournament only takes three days. In the event of a tie, then a tie-breaker based on total runs scored, or some other simple method, applies.

    3. The single wild-card winner advances to the division series, and plays the strongest division winner, as usual. This also adds excitement because the winning wild card will be tired and have its rotation all screwed up going against a rested division winner.

    4. Only one day off between the end of the regular series and the wild card tournament, and one more day off between the wild card tournament and the division series. This adds five days to the postseason.

    5. Assuming that game 1 of the wild card tournament starts on Oct. 2, then the division series would start on Oct. 6. Go back to the old system of having the lower-ranked team start at home for two games, then to the higher-ranked team for three days. This saves a day, so you can do the whole division series in six days. Then just have one day off before the league series, which would start on Oct. 13, and (as currently) go a maximum of nine days. Then one more day off for the world series, which would start on Oct. 23, with game seven on Oct. 31.

    6. We can do this because we currently have so much fat in the schedule to accommodate the networks. But the networks would be compensated by having an extra mini-round which would generate interest in up to six TV markets (three in each league).

  8. Juke Early says:

    I agree w/AnjaKJ – shorten season by 10-12 games. Also play 2 Double headers – they want to make it day/night? fine. I like Bronx Knight's overall Wild Card concept. But too many teams & too many playoff games, reduces the flavor of a regular season of baseball. Diluting for dollars S U X. My feeling is still, MLB needs major restructuring into a 20 team 4 division/5team AL/NL and a 10 team 4A with season W/L records moving teams up & down levels. This should make Yankee haters happy, if one day the NYY have the worst record, they don't get to even be in the MLB Prime the next season.

    • Bronx Knight says:

      The full majors plus AAAA idea is a cool concept. I think they do that in some European soccer leagues already. But maybe too drastic a fix. For instance, it might really kill some very weak teams, like the Pirates and the Royals, who might not even be able to finish in the top half of the AAA league so as to return to the full majors.

  9. Patrick says:

    So with an extra Wild Card team, would that mean 3 AL East teams in the postseason instead of the usual 2?

    • Bronx Knight says:

      Not at all. Three wild cards go into the mini-tournament, but only one goes forward. Meanwhile, the three division winners each have a bye.

      Additionally, the mini tournament would be a crap shoot. All in all, it would make it much less likely for the Red Sox to be the AL wild card almost every year.

      As an example, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox would have joined the Yanks as AL wild cards this year. They would then have played a mini-tournament. The Yanks would have been favored, but they would only mean maybe a 40% chance to win, Red Sox 35%, White Sox 25%.

      In the NL this year, the Padres and the Cards would have joined the Braves. Anything could happen.

  10. seasoned observer says:

    When I can see a players breathe it's no longer baseball season.

  11. Bronx Knight says:

    An article published by the AP today says that baseball is considering expanding the wild cards for 2012. It's not a done deal, but the tone of the article suggests that people were actually thinking about doing it for 2011, so 2012 could be a real possibility:

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