Well it’s that time again; the CBA between the baseball owner’s and MLBPA is being negotiated. There will be some major changes as to how fans see the game in 2012. Bug Selig hopes to leave another innovation as his legacy. It’s the first month of the season and I am already concerned about next year’s (2012) playoffs and the regular season The new CBA with the owners will undoubtedly include an expansion to the playoffs according to Bug. MLBPA President Michael Weiner says that the players are open to expanded playoffs. They are concerned, as I am, about how it would effect the regular season. Bug said, “… there’s a myriad of details to work out”. He’s right on that one.
In 1995 the Divisions changed into what we have today, three division leaders and a wild card in the playoffs. We have gotten used to this style of playoff and it has added more interest and action for the fans and much more money for the owners. There are 15 teams in each league and four of the teams go to the playoffs, one quarter of the league.
Three division winners with the next best two into a wild card spot with 5 in each league totaling 10 playoff teams or 1/3 of all MLB teams is one scenario being discussed. This means teams will play the current 162 games plus a possible 3 game wild game round (one game would be just stupid and not reflect the rest of the regular season series), a 5 game ALDC /NLDC, 7 game ALCS/ NLCS and 7 game WS. If played out, the two wild card teams would face an additional 3 games which could total 22 games to finally determine the World Series. This is a very long season. Don’t forget all the games in the spring training (which should be shortened by a week at least). Pitching staffs will suffer, injuries will increase and the hot streaks at the end of the season will turn into the snows of November. Baseball is not a cold weather sport no matter what the owners want. At the very most it should be over by the middle of October.
The NBA and NHL have 30 teams and 16 are in the playoffs, more than half. Nearly everyone (except the Leafs and Raptors) get in the playoffs. It is series elimination. The NFL has the toughest scheme with single game elimination. That is how they run their regular season schedule, so that system works in football. The MLB would now have four sets of series eliminations.
With the increased number of teams came the expansion of playoff rounds. The increased number of games per season and the number of playoff games will create a big change on strategy for the managers and the players. What of the pitching rotation and how will lineups look with these increases? All in all, I don’t think this small expansion would be out of line. It better not turn into the NHL style.
What should happen to inter-league play? Bug introduced, during his tenure, the current playoff scheme and inter-league play. With the inter-league play he restructured the league in East, Central and West. This new division has allowed the playoff system to work. Inter-league play removes chances to play outside of the league division for the regular schedule. At the end of the season teams play too many times in their own division instead of spreading it out. Old rivalries have been thrown aside. For example, the Tigers play the Jays in only two shortened series. This used to be a great rivalry and fans from both cities would travel and enjoy each other’s company. Not so much now that the balance has changed. Each team in both leagues do not get to play enough in the league. Indian’s, White Sox, and Royals are just some of the teams we no longer play enough. Instead with inter-league play we see Giants, Phillies and other NL teams we have no baseball interest in. They are not our rivals. Until the World Series we have no real interest in how they play. Inter-league should be stopped. The World Series should be about the best playing the best for the first time. Not the third or sixth time.
Expanded playoffs and inter-league play go hand in hand. I am concerned because the CBA is at the table now and expires in December this year. Can fans do anything about it? I don’t know but maybe it is time to contact the Commissioner’s office with our concerns and not just let the owners and the Bug run the game for us.