I don’t know who needs to hear this but baseball doesn’t need to be changed.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some proposed changes to baseball’s playoffs format that only a television executive with no sense of history, tradition, or shame could love.
MLB is seriously weighing a move from five to seven playoff teams in each league beginning in 2022, The Post has learned.
In this concept, the team with the best record in each league would receive a bye to avoid the wild-card round and go directly to the Division Series. The two other division winners and the wild card with the next-best record would each host all three games in a best-of-three wild-card round. So the bottom three wild cards would have no first-round home games.
The division winner with the second-best record in a league would then get the first pick of its opponent from those lower three wild cards, then the other division winner would pick, leaving the last two wild cards to play each other.
A little more clarification:
To use the AL last season as an example, the Astros, with the best record, would have received the bye. The Yankees, with the second-best record, would have had the choice to pick from among the Rays, Indians and Red Sox. Boston had the worst record of that group. Would the Yanks pick them or avoid the baggage of a series with their rival? It would create a ton of strategy and interest, and this is what MLB wants to sell. The Twins would then pick next as the other division winner, and then the A’s with the best wild-card record would play the team not chosen by the Yankees or Twins.
This is a move to whore MLB out to television even more. They want this to be a TV spectacle like the NCAA selection show, obviously.
This would seem to indicate that Major League Baseball wants to make the sport more accessible to younger viewers who like their screen time.
“Seem” being the operative word there.
Sports journalist Molly Knight made an excellent point in response to this attempt by MLB to be the pretty girl at the TV dance:
If MLB wants the sport to be more popular then step 1 is making sure every fan can watch their home teams through every local cable provider and the MLB app. THERE I FIXED IT.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) February 10, 2020
Baseball could be getting more TV time in front of the fans if only MLB and certain teams would get out of their own way.
A prime example of how torturous it can be for a diehard fan who just wants to watch a game is the television contract that my Los Angeles Dodgers have. The Dodgers are making over $8 billion dollars on it, but SoCal fans can only see it if they have Spectrum cable.
Most people in Los Angeles don’t have Spectrum cable. This means that the team that has won seven consecutive division titles hasn’t been seen on television by most of its hometown fan base during that entire run.
What Knight suggests would be a HUGE step in a very positive direction.
Instead, MLB’s current idiot king commissioner Rob Manfred has done things like changing the rules for intentional walks and limiting managers’ visits to the mound in the hope of shaving eight seconds off of each game and making the hearts of the young ‘uns swell.
The ultimate proof that this is a horrible idea is the fact that Bob Costas — everybody’s least favorite opinionated garden gnome — likes it.
Manfred wants to do the nearly impossible: add some modern twists to professional baseball that will make the restless youth like it more. That’s a popularity contest that’s easier for the NFL and NBA to keep playing year after year.
Baseball’s appeal to hardcore fans like myself is the game’s seemingly timeless nature and its tradition. I’m not even a total purist. Sure, I think the designated hitter is a crime against God and nature, but I’m not opposed to expansion or the wild card rules as they have evolved thus far.
The fact that baseball doesn’t undergo seismic changes is a feature, not a bug. There is a greater connection between a home run hitter of today and Babe Ruth than a modern NFL running back and Red Grange.
Both games are better for it.
Full disclosure, I am a huge sports fan. My daughter — an athlete and huge sports fan as well — once asked me which I loved more, baseball or football.
I replied, “You know that I really, really love football, but I’m in love with baseball.”
I don’t need some warped television gimmick ruining that which I love.
If baseball wants to get more popular it needs to get more kids playing it here. We let our guards down, got drunk for a while, and somehow soccer became a thing. Nobody played soccer when I was a kid. We played baseball.
Because we were American kids.
I’m not saying Rob Manfred isn’t American.
I’m not saying he is either.
Leave baseball alone.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer has more than a few thoughts on the proposed changes, as well as Rob Manfred. I will leave you with those.
PJ Media Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.”