Major League Baseball wants its playoff cake and eat it, too.
Commissioner Bud Selig, The Man Who Destroyed Division Races As We Used to Know Them, is at it again. Selig wants more playoff teams, and he wants them now—as early as next season. The players union has indicated that more post-season teams in 2012 might be amenable.
“We haven’t abused our allotment,” Selig told reporters this week. “We only have eight out of 30 teams make the playoffs.”
Selig points to the NFL, which has 12 of its 32 teams make the playoffs, and the NHL and NBA, which each allow 16 of their 30 teams into the post-season party. Then he looks at MLB and sees but eight out of 30 teams qualify, and apparently Bud wants some of that playoff action for his sport, too.
This isn’t a debate about whether there should be more playoff teams in baseball. Sadly, Selig and his owners squashed that like a bug when the Wild Card was introduced in 1995, which has since rendered a lot of divisional races as moot as a Brett Favre retirement announcement.
No, the ship has sailed that allowed intelligent discussion about the pros and cons of a Wild Card, which reared its ugly head again this year in the American League East when what should have been a heart-pounding, nail-biting race between the Yankees and the Rays instead turned meaningless, as both teams made the playoffs.
It’s too late to save the division race as we once knew it.
The focus of the argument now is, if Selig wants more playoffs, then he has to give somewhere else.
Namely, the length of the regular season.
The World Series will once again drift into November this year. Thank goodness the Texas Rangers are hosts this weekend. MLB is playing with fire. Heaven forbid the day when the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies meet in the November Classic. Can you throw a curveball with mittens on?
Selig wants more playoffs, but when are you going to play the extra games?
There’s even talk of extending the divisional series to a best-of-seven, too.
Just how many days does Selig think October has, anyway?
Additional playoffs will have to mean either: a) a reduced regular season (thus cutting into each team’s gate); b) starting the season earlier; or c) schedule more honest-to-goodness doubleheaders (NOT the day/night ones, either; I’m talking the old-fashioned Sunday afternoon twinbills).
It’s the lesser of two evils, to begin the season in March as opposed to having the World Series end in mid-November. At least a March start will allow for as many games in the first week or two to be played either indoors or in warm weather climates.
Have as many northern-based teams play out west or down south or in Toronto as possible, beginning around March 24 or so. This may mean some teams will play their first 6-10 games on the road, but so be it. Everyone gets 81 home and 81 away, so it all evens out eventually.
I’m guessing that more playoffs in MLB would mean two more teams in each league qualifying, creating an NFL-like system of six teams in each league participating.
That scenario would likely give the top two divisional winners, by won/lost record, a bye in the first round. Then the other four battle it out—the third divisional winner and the three Wild Cards—with those two winners facing the bye teams.
I’m not wild about any of this, and one reason is that getting a bye and waiting a week or so to play your first playoff game seems unnatural, after playing 162 games with little rest. I can’t help but wonder if this would inadvertently penalize the best teams, who would have to begin the playoffs cold against a team that just got done playing a series.
The only way this scenario could be avoided would be to add four playoff teams to each league, so that no one gets a bye. Now you’d have 16 out of the 30 teams making the playoffs. Kind of makes a 162-game season overkill, to eliminate less than half of the MLB teams.
Can you imagine five Wild Cards per league?
However he chooses to implement it, Selig can’t keep everything else status quo. He can’t start in early-April, play 162 games, extend the DS to a best-of-seven, and add playoff teams. The World Series would bump up against Thanksgiving.
I’d like to see Selig try to convince perennial bottom feeders like the Royals and Pirates that they should give up some home dates in order to make the regular season shorter, so Bud can add playoff teams and lengthen the DSs.
Bud Selig has already destroyed the traditional pennant race. Now he wants to emulate the other three majors and add to his post-season invite list.
I don’t like it, so the least he can do is compromise elsewhere.
Selig wants his cake and eat it, too. I hope he chokes on it.