In less than a month, after concluding a six month 162 game season, four teams will take the field for the 163rd time. Two of those teams will be heading home – their season over a mere three hours later. For the other two teams, they’ll be boarding a plane to the next city to meet one of the Division winners in a best of five series away from their home field. One game decides their season – sudden death as they say in the NFL – do or die.
This may work for the average fan and it’s destined to be a ratings bonanza for the television networks……….But is it really good for baseball?
If the regular season ended today, the Texas Rangers would visit Yankee Stadium
to play the Yankees. Cole Hamels would be the “no brainer” starter for the Rangers. Meanwhile, Joe Girardi will have to choose between Tanaka (a proven big game winner in Japan ) and Evaldi, a fourteen game winner so far, but with a somewhat bloated over four ERA. No matter, for both teams it’s a crapshoot.
Meanwhile, over in the National League the Pirates would fly to Chicago to face the Cubs. In this matchup, the Cubbies winter addition of Jon Lester – the man hired to put them over the top- would be tested as he will be pitted against the ace of the Pirates staff – Garrett Cole. A suspense driven game to be sure…….but consider this…….
If not for the greed of owners and baseball itself, there are better ways to end a six month season. However, it would involve shortening the season to (perhaps) 154 games. This would allow for a two of three series to decide which of the wild-card teams move on.
The loss of revenue for those eight games – but really only four home games for each team – is easily offset or at least reduced by the addition of two extra games for the TV networks to fight over. But the real bonus is that baseball will revert back to their original 154 game schedule and there would no longer be a need to argue about whether Roger Maris really broke the Babe’s record in the coming years. The asterisk would be gone.
Rob Manfred (upper right) has a vision for baseball. His agenda should include adding a new format to the playoff schedule. Owners will resist but fans will rejoice…….and isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about……the Fans…..or am I mistaken in that?