Should Major League Baseball be investing in plowing equipment? Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

162 + 1: More Crazy Playoff Math From The Commissioner's Office

I’m with Chipper Jones on this one and not just because this year’s sentimental favorite retired on such a sour note. When asked two weeks ago what he thought about Major League Baseball’s second wild card team one game playoff Jones bluntly said, “”I think it’s stupid to be honest with you.” How can anyone argue unless you are a Cardinals fan.

October 5, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; The grounds crew pick trash off of the field after the Atlanta Braves braves fans protest a call during the eight inning of the 2012 National League wild card playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

October 5, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrates after winning the 2012 National League wild card playoff game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The Braves won 94 games this year while the Cardinals won 88. In what twisted alternate-reality universe is a one game playoff between two contrived wild card “contenders” separated by six wins fair? Baltimore and Texas finished the season with the same win/loss record so in that case an exciting and fair one game play in game is justified. Welcome to Bud Selig’s world. MLB owners love him because they’ve made so much money under his reign. But in so doing he’s perverted and diluted the game. Chipper was blunt. Allow me the same privilege; this format sucks and it needs to go away.

This new and unfair wrinkle in the MLB landscape is still not as heinous as the All-Star game winner getting home field advantage in the World Series, another Selig contrivance. Think about it. For argument’s sake let’s say the Yankees, at 95-67 and owners of the second best regular season record and the best in the AL, get into the World Series and in a repeat of last year’s playoffs the Cardinals, at 88-74, run the table and get into the series. The Cardinals get home field advantage. Really?

Games played within the context of this kind of playoff and World Series imbalance can turn normally fair-minded and sportsmanlike fans into an angry mob.

Witness the scene at Turner Field on Friday when Braves fans turned into an ugly horde after a questionable call that because of the new format now means everything. The game was stopped for nearly 20 minutes as all manner of debris rained down on the field. As a good friend and longtime Atlantan pointed out in a text to me “who knew there we so many Philly fans in Atlanta.”

If MLB insists on inflicting this forced scenario at least make it fair with a three-game series. Oh wait, that would further lengthen a season already expanded from 154 to 162 games to accommodate expansion and greed.

Somehow the specter of snowplows, heated turf and a comical series in which a team that plays in a dome squares off against let’s say Boston or Cleveland (OK, given this year’s final standings that does take comedy to a new level) as winter fast approaches leaves me, well, cold.

The MVP getting tagged with the new moniker “Mr. November” simply cheapens the grand tradition and turns off baseball purists. Equally important, as the baseball playoff season lengthens the competition for viewership substantially stiffens as fans start watching increasingly important NFL games and the NBA season heats up.

I’ve got an idea. What about…
1. Returning to a 154 game schedule. The shortened season will ensure that fan exhaustion will be decreased and more importantly casual fan interest will be increased. Playoffs will also be played in decent weather no matter which teams get in and baseball largely gets the spotlight it deserves.
2. Cut out inter-league play. Another dumb stratagem. I’m an AL guy. Always will be. I strongly suspect divisional and league loyalties play out similarly across the spectrum of fans. Rivalries are generally determined by geography. I simply have a hard time getting worked up about a potential Red Sox/Astros rivalry.
3. Return the All-Star game to the exhibition it was always intended to be. Does anything else need to be said here?
4. Division winners and one wild card team in each league get in based on their record, period. The playoffs will start the day after the regular season concludes. I don’t want a Ouija board or secret decoder ring to figure out the playoff picture.
5. In any given playoff or World Series, the team with the better regular season record gets home field advantage.

I don’t know about you but I certainly feel better. That is until next season starts and nothing changes.

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’
If you wanna be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’
If you wanna be with me

I’m not tryin’ to be your hero
‘Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I’m not tryin’ to be your highness
‘Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah
- Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing, Bill Preston

Tags: Playoffs

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