• phil cantor/@osgphil

MLB's Proposed Playoff Rule is not as Dumb as some People Think



Why do so many people hate or complain about change before they ever read what it is about? Just because something has been done the same way since before you were a child does not always mean it was right--or the best way or for that matter what works best for the time you currently live in.


Such is the dilemma facing the "Powers That Be" in Major League Baseball. How do you generate excitement, change and interest in the "National Pastime" which has long been overtaken by football and basketball as the Sport of Choice??


MLB has floated all kinds of ideas, most to speed up pace of play and the games themselves which often run over 3-plus hours. Mind you, NFL and College Football games often take 3 and a half hours or more too, but that seemingly is always overlooked.


Baseball's most recent idea/proposal is one that surprisingly is drawing a certain amount of venom from fans and players: Expanding the playoffs.


((ed.note--Yes, I know they've made a few rules changes for 2020, none of which have drawn this type reaction))


Commissioner Rob Manfred has charged his people to come up with new ideas and one that was reported this week was to grow the playoffs by 2 teams in both the American and National League. The proposal would also make Wild-Card games best of 3 instead of a one-game, winner take all event and allow the higher seeded teams to pick their opponent.


The only thing I don't like is the "Pick your Opponent" part of the proposal. I think it would create some issues and open up a can of worms that doesn't need to be open. But the rest---yeah, do it. Why not? Especially if it means shortening the 162-game marathon known as the regular season.



Listen, at the end of the day---I suspect this all about one thing: Revenue. Shortening the season to 154 games, which has been discussed and expanding the playoffs allows MLB to in many ways enhance their revenue streams from the broadcasts and to be honest, for them, this is the heart of the matter.


The thing I don't understand is the backlash. Though I guess I should say the only "Backlash" so far was one derogatory tweet by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer who I suspect is primarily speaking for himself.



Change is an issue for a lot of people for reasons I've never fully understood. In Sports and in everyday life, it's frightening how many people believe things should remain the same they were and have always been since in many cases before those people were born. Listen, change is inevitable folks, just because things have been done a certain way doesn't mean that way is right or the best way. It only means that's the way it's done.


The NFL is probably the worst offender at this by their inability to see past physical measurements for players entering the league and resistance by coaches to changing what they do to fit the talent on hand.


For Baseball, it's mostly "Nostalgia" buffs and those of a certain age who still romanticize the game. Don't get me wrong--more than any other Professional Sports, baseball is a never-ending love letter to its past. But there are times when that past does not always translate to the present...or the future.


Somehow, I can't imagine the game falling into disrepair and unadulterated chaos because two teams were added to the playoffs. Particularly if the long-rumored expansion to 32 teams comes to fruition.


Sure, there are times when making changes--just for the sake of change backfires. Just see what happened to PGA Golf and NASCAR, both of whom now have some complicated form of a playoff that nobody outside the super die-hard fans understand.


None of this will happen without the MLB Players Association saying "OK". I suspect they will because quite honestly, there's no reason they shouldn't. But alas, I could be wrong, there are plenty of times they voted against their own best interest.


Either way--let this play out. Why not try it? What is there to lose? Players waxing nostalgic about how it once meant something to make the playoffs? Adding two teams hardly changes that. It just harkens back to what I said earlier.


Change for the sake of change is always a bad idea, change to try something new and grow into a sleeker, more efficient, modern operation can't hurt. Can it?

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