Two major changes to baseball as we know it are on the table.
First, the idea of adding more teams to the play-offs is being kicked around. And, second, shortening the season is being considered.
I admit that I was opposed to expanding the play-offs to include wild card when that happened a few years back. Basically, the move rendered the ultimate goal of baseball -- winning the pennant -- completely irrelivant. Who cares if you're the best team in your league? Sneak in with the wild card and get hot at the right time and you've got just as good of a chance to win the World Series as the club that went 105-57 during that silly, insignificant, five-and-a-half-month-long regular season.
I further admit that the wild card has kept things interesting for fans whose teams otherwise would be out of the playoff hunt in August. People have seem to embrace it and I have, if not learned to like it, at least learned to accept it.
But letting the best team that didn't win its division into the post season is a whole lot different than letting several teams that didn't win anything in the regular season punch their ticket to the playoff dance. How is this going to work, are the top TWO teams in each league's three divisions going to get to go to the post season?
If you ask me, that's watering it down far too much.
The wild card keeps things interesting because one team gets a golden ticket. If we're going to let half the teams in the play-offs, why not just let them all in?
Cutting down the season by few games might not be a bad idea. For the vast majority of the major leagues' existence, baseball season lasted 154 games, not 162. Going back to 154 games would shave more than a week off the schedule and maybe the World Series would be played in its traditional month of October instead of November.
The problem is, if you add another batch of teams to the post season, you're going to have to add another round of play-offs. And there goes the time you saved.
The only reasonable solution to the playoff situation would be adding one more team and restoring the importance of having the best record in your league by giving the pennant winner a first round bye. But even that isn't fair in that rust grows quickly on a baseball team. It would be a terrible disadvantage to the pennant winner to cool its collective heels for a week to 10 days while the first round sorts itself out. And shortening the first round to a three-game series would be ridiculous. Flukes become far too likely in that short of a series.
So, please, shorten the season if you like. But don't change the playoff picture again. Is it really that important to lower the bar to the point that the Cubs have a chance of lucking into a championship?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat