Last week I wrote about the pure but misleading intentions of the Wild Card game. It’s a one game affair that I think should be a best-of-three games played in four nights.
Looking at things from a larger perspective, I also think that baseball should embrace what basketball has done and what has really turned the NBA postseason into an event. A two month long event but still one that dominates the sports world for its depth.
I know most are adamantly against extending the playoffs but in my perfect world, baseball’s owners and players would bite the financial bullet and pull the rug out from under the entire September regular season portion of the year.
Theoretically, the easiest part of the baseball calendar to eliminate would be Spring Training. Teams wouldn’t lose a dozen or so home games of revenue and players wouldn’t forfeit a bulky day-to-day salary.
However, that would be a crippling blow for the business in the Florida and Arizona environments that house and host these teams in February and March. It may not be the highest priority to the average observer, but it would be a cruel takeaway if that was the route baseball went.
Spring Training games aren’t that important. Shorter preseasons are a popular narrative in every sport. But the cities rely on that month-plus of relaxed, multi-field baseball that is a heavy source for vacationing in the spring.
The 162 game schedule has been in place for almost 60 years, but in this day and age where player’s health is (rightfully) under a hot microscope —and the disabled list has already been adjusted to 10 days and utilized with reckless abandon— it would be in sync with the sports world’s goals to shorten the regular season that occupies over half of the calendar year.
My proposal is simple: cut out the month of September. The only thing missed will be the September call-ups that us minor league gurus love. But truthfully, September call-ups are wildly unnecessary and would frankly make more sense in the middle of the season than at the end, when teams are fighting and/or preparing for the postseason. (Also, under no circumstance should teams be making double digit pitching changes in a game.)
For my dream scenario of a 3-7-7-7 playoff format to take place, you don’t even need to cut that many games. But less games would be better for the players in every way except their pocket books.
That, unfortunately, is why this grand plan will likely never come to fruition and is the same reason the NFL will continue to play four injury-riddled preseason games. Money money money. That’s why you play the games.
Another added bonus is cutting out most of October and any threat of November from the baseball schedule. Playing the majority of the season in warmer weather shouldn’t conclude with winter nights in the season’s biggest games. Beanies, hoodies and mittens have no place in baseball.
Anyhow, my dream of a three game Wild Card series and seven game Divisional, Championship and World Series with the playoffs beginning in September remains a pipe dream. But I do love to dream.