Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Play-offs are here

Some thoughts on the playoffs. (Yes, I know – a “baseball” post. See most of you tomorrow.)

The Wild Card games always seem to be spectacular and this year was no exception. I’m convinced part of the reason is that it’s a one-game winner-take-all series. So every play is heightened, every moment is exciting.

Personally, I think there are too many playoff games. It’s ridiculous that the World Series practically ends at Thanksgiving.

The World Series is also watered down by interleague-play, so it’s no big whoop anymore to see a National League team play an American League team. Also, the World Series games start so late in the East that kids (the game’s future) are usually in bed by the third inning.

If I were commissioner here’s what I would do: One-game playoffs for the Wild Card. Three-game series for the Division. Five for the Championship Series. And the only series that goes seven is the World Series. Also, only one travel day per series. If the teams have to travel a second time they can do it in the middle of night like they do during the season. Do all of that and each game becomes more important and dramatic, and you cut out a week. You can watch the World Series and still have a few days to decorate your house for Halloween (instead of Christmas).

I’d make it easier for the fans to find the games. They’re currently on Fox, FS-1, ESPN, ESPN-2, TBS, TNT, MLB Network. And in a number of cases different networks cover the same series. And it doesn't stop there.  Your game could be listed on TBS but if the game before runs long (which they all do) the start of your game may be on TNT.  Good luck setting your DVR.

But wait -- there's more.   Beyond the first few games, the start times of future games aren't even announced.  The networks decide last minute who should go where -- meaning: if you're the Yankees, Dodgers, or Cubs you're probably playing in primetime.  If you're Houston you're not.  The casual fan is not going to go to the effort of finding these games. And it’s the casual fan you need to attract – the person who only follows baseball during the post-season.

Keep Harold Reynolds away from any broadcast booth. He’s the current Joe Morgan.

Bring Jon Miller back.

And ESPN – find a place for Jason Benetti (pictured above). You have the best young baseball announcer in the country in your fold. Use him.  Instead, ESPN has Chris Berman calling a series on the radio.  He's maybe the worst radio baseball play-by-play man ever.

If you have the MLB app or Sirius/XM and you want to follow the Cleveland-New York game, listen to the Indians radio broadcast.  Tom Hamilton is exceptional.  

Have you ever seen so many first inning home runs as in these playoff games so far?  Off of pitching aces no less. 

Jose Altuve is the single best player in baseball.  Disagree all you want.  

What World Series match-up do you think Fox is rooting for? Dodgers vs. Yankees or Diamondbacks vs. Astros?

Best of luck to YOUR team.


Matt said...

Friday question:

Is Tina Delgado still alive? If so, how old would she be now?

John in NE Ohio said...

Glad to see the love for Hammy. The only unfortunate part is the middle innings where he takes off and the other guy (name withheld to protect the guilty) announces. But you get Tom for the beginning and the end. Last night's 13 innings were a treat with him announcing.

They had Tom doing the pregame intros before Game 1 from the field. Clubhouse helpers all the way up to Tito. It sure had us pumped up for the game.

ELS said...

ITEM: We in Cleveland LOVE US some Tom Hamilton! He is the top notch gold standard. I keep wishing I could get the broadcast on my TV, but Tom Hamilton doing the game... because most of these clowns couldn't call a game of tic tac toe.

ITEM: Corollary: Yeah, where the heck IS Jon Miller? And how stupid do you have to be at ESPN to take that guy off the air? I mean, if you can't get Vin Scully (and you can't), why not use the second best guy?

ITEM: Oh, ESPN may WANT the Yankees in the Series. But unless Cleveland gets screwed by MLB telling the umpires to call for New York (again...), I think the Indians are going to be in the ALCS. Ditto for Houston. Imagine how happy that should make the money boys. At least they have the chance of Chicago or Los Angeles in the NL...

Anonymous said...

Houston could have been a sentimental favorite that may have drawn ratings after their devastating flooding if there hadn't been so many other tragedies this fall. Yes, too many games that are difficult to find, another example of typical committee planning.
I prefer it when games feature hometown commentators.
-- Kelsey in Seattle

John Hammes said...

The Andy Griffith Show "Ball Game" episode aired October 3 1966 - the first week of the month - at that time coinciding WITH the World Series.

Paul Gottlieb said...

Harold Reynolds is the new Joe Morgan in the booth, but on the field he couldn't carry Joe Morgan's jockstrap. Morgan was a bad announcer, but a truly great player.Harold Reynolds is a lifetime .258 hitter with 21 career homers

Glenn said...

The only reason the playoffs run so late is because the regular season takes forever. Lose 12 games and go from 162 to an even 150. It's sad that postseason games might have to be moved or postponed because of snow.

VP81955 said...

My broadcast "holy trinity" is either retired (Vin Scully) or no longer with us (Harry Kalas, Ernie Harwell).

Houston is a team whose appeal could blossom in light of the city's recovery from Harvey. And Jose Altuve is phenomenal -- incredible talent in a small package. I call him the Kristin Chenoweth of baseball.

blinky said...

Jon Miller, Jon Miller, Jon Miller!

Dr Loser said...

Y'know, sooner or later, all the old folk complaining that interleague play somehow "diminishes" the WS will have drifted off into the disregarded past, and a good thing too. It's not a proposition that makes any sense. Nobody has ever tuned in to the World Series to watch "one league" play against "the other league." You watch it because it pits the best against the best. It so happens that the leagues, and the post season, are constructed in such a way as to make that as realistic an outcome as possible.

There are probably people out there who mourn the good old days when it was "special" to watch an AL pitcher be forced to waft a bat, or to watch whatever the complement of this might be in an NL park. Clearly this should only ever be allowed to happen four to seven times a year. Clearly. If you are a loony.

Now, that said, I do agree with your point about dragging the post-season into November. Anything to avoid this, please. Your 1/3/5/7 game sequence would be an improvement, although it would mess with starting rotations. The idea floated before the 2017 CBA to reduce the number of games from 162 to -- what was it? -- the prior 154 or something: that would be good too. My personal preference would be to throw away the All Star carnival and just use that week for meaningful baseball. None of this will happen. Because all of it will "lose revenue." At least, according to the bean counters.

One small thing I would like, and this is never going to happen either, is for every single post season game to have a commentary booth staffed by one guy each from the regular season team commentator pairings. No more Buck. No more Morgan. No more ... pick and permute any from Fox, ESPN, TBS, whichever.

Home games: play-by-play guy from the opposing team. Color guy from the home team. Away games: the other way around. (Obviously.)

This makes such perfect sense that I will happily conceive that it will never happen.

Dr Loser said...

I see Kelsey got in first with the "home commentators" thing. (Apologies.) I do, honestly, think this would massively improve the post season coverage.

Allowing the two teams involved to nominate a booth guest for home games would be icing on the cake. It would have been wonderful to have, say, Vin Sculley guest in 2004, 2007, or 2013.

And also something for Ken to aspire to ...

VP81955 said...

Dr Loser: Not a bad idea, as long as Yankees hack John Sterling is prohibited from participating. He's dreadful, an insult to Mel Allen, Red Barber, Frank Messer and others who have inhabited that booth. (Even Phil Rizzuto, no one's idea of a great announcer, had a daffy-uncle charm about him. Sterling's bombast is charmless.)

tb said...

Go Dodgers!

Mike Schryver said...

Way back in the old days, NBC used to bring in a local announcer for the World Series to work with their crew. It made things more interesting.

Thanks for the tip on Tom Hamilton in Cleveland. I haven't listened to him yet, but I'm always looking for good announcers to listen to - so many are awful. The announcing team is about the only thing keeping me a Mets fan; they have the best.

Jon Miller calls games for the Giants, and he's great as always.

Anonymous said...

Obviously more show business people than baseball people on this blog.
Mike Trout - not that close.

Unknown said...

I was listening to Berman yesterday and it was impossible to figure out what was happening on the field.

Jeff said...

If Harold Reynolds needs something to do, maybe Fox News could use him as an expert analyst for their coverage of the Harvey Weinstein story.

sanford said...

Boston is probably done. But I think Fox would want Cubs Yankees or Cubs Boston. Dodgers vs Yankees.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Since my Tigers dealt away players, my game tonight is in Ann Arbor.

Absolutely agree about Jon Miller and Tom Hamilton (so good) and Chris Berman (so...something). Although, for the hell of it, I'd listen to Beeman and Sterling call a few innings, just for the weirdness of it.

Anonymous said...

Amen for your shout-out to Jason Benetti. We White Sox fans love him and can't wait until he (finally) has the job full-time with Ken Harrelson's merciful retirement.

Cap'n Bob said...

My pet peeve is the sideline/dugout chicks. First off, I don't want to cut away from the game for a useless dugout interview with the manager. Has anyone said anything original since 1920? When I watch a male sport I don't want a woman piping up with her breathless observations. One of the opening games had an airhead narrating every play that was rerun, like a swing and a miss on a pitch, like she was adding something to the game. Spare me.

Alan Gollom said...

Dan Schulman is one of the best announcers I've ever listened to. He should be doing the world series.

Dr Loser said...

"When I watch a male sport I don't want a woman piping up with her breathless observations."

Poor little you. Take another sip from the testosterone cuplet, mannikin, and change the channel.

"Male sport," indeed. I hang out on several baseball boards where I, as a male, am outnumbered by female fans of the game. And, you know what? They generally know more than I do about the game, too!

Although, I'll admit. The Infield Fly rule generally eludes them. It's a left-brain thing, I suspect.

Matt said...

Hi Glenn, I understand what you are saying about making the season 150 games, but you are talking about losing 180 actual games. Assume the teams make about $500k per game and you are talking about losing $90M. It is not going to happen.

Bruce P. said...

Bud Selig really messed up current baseball by 1)turning his back on HGH use, 2)instituting the wild card system (I despise the WC system), and 3)instituting interleague play. HGH was ignored because "everyone loves the long ball". Wild card was established because "it keeps the regular season more exciting" since a team doesn't even have to bear the four teams in their division to wind up in the playoffs. Interleague play is strictly in place so that the New York teams can play each other (all other 28 teams be damned). Each reason is complete BS. At least they stopped making the All Star Game the determining factor for home field in the World Series.

If the big wigs at MLB really believe that these three Selig bastardizations are good for baseball they should go all in and completely destroy the 148 years of baseball history as follows --

1)Play regular season to Labor Day (the way the minors do it)
2)Regular season is played strictly to establish seeds irregardless of league.
3) Seed #1 plays seed #30 in one game playoff, seed #2 plays #29, etc. This way EVERYONE is in the playoffs thereby giving hope to a .300 team that happens to get hot in September.
4) Last two teams play five game World Series. And yes, the last two teams can come from the same league.

I would love to see two teams with losing records from the same league play in the World Series just to see the TV ratings (oh, the excitement of a Philly - San Diego series this year). Perhaps something like that might convince the powers that be that constantly changing the structure of the game still does not attract new fans and alienates devoted ones.

benson said...

Holy Cow, where to start?

1. Anonymous, I've been a White Sox fan for over half a century. I will take your "we" as the royal "we" as I think Hawk Harrelson has been great. After years of listening to Bob Elson (imagine a classical music announcer calling baseball), Red Rush ("Gonella is swella, fella") and Jack Brickhouse (a fine man, but...), starting with Hawk and Don Drysdale all the way to now, he's been great. Benetti and Stone are fine, but let's not pile on Hawk.

2. I know I'm going to get killed on this one, but nationally, I like Joe Buck and Tom Verducci, and John Smoltz is great. Give that man a 10 year contract. Dan Shulman is good, but is leaving ESPN. ESPN is too damn stupid or proud to give an old guy like John Miller a call.

3. Get real. For various reasons (primarily MONEY and player's union, and did I say MONEY?) you are not getting afternoon World Series games, you are not getting an end to inter-league play, and you are not losing the DH.

4. And you're not getting kids back watching baseball because the kids who are playing MLB right now, can't get their act together enough to stop scratching themselves and play the damn game. Pace of play is a serious issue. And call the strike zone, why don't you. In fact, go back to the zone being letters to the knees. How is it most games in the 50's and 60's were played in just over two hours? It ain't the commercials fault, kids. It's pace of play.

Ken, FWIW, I love your non showbiz posts equally.

Mike Bloodworth said...

The baseball playoffs are totally moot. Since I don't have Spectrum cable or satellite I don't get to watch any of the games. I can't afford to go to a sports bar except occasionally. And you can only impose on your friends so many times. While I much prefer capitalism to the alternative, the unrepentant greed of Major League Baseball really pisses me off!! These "cable-only" deals the are a big, fat, middle finger to all of us who grew up watching sports for free on broadcast T.V. The saddest irony of all is that the one year when it looks like the Dodgers could to all the way, Vin Scilly is retired. If he were still calling the games then at least I could listen to them on the radio. (No offence to Rick Monday, but...come on)

Roger Owen Green said...

Interleague play doesn't have the excitement anymore, but as long as there are 15 teams in each league, it's inevitable. I still hate it, but I also hate the DH and that's not going anywhere either.

154-game season.

1/3/5/7 games sounds good to me.

MikeKPa. said...

I think the Indians would second your motion for a three-game division series retroactive to 2017.

ScottyB said...

>>It’s ridiculous that the World Series practically ends at Thanksgiving.<<

Ain't it? During the 1960s, when I was a kid and still gave a shit about major league baseball, the WS was done by the first or second week in October.

Jahn Ghalt said...

In reverse order on this very late comment:

1) MY team is the Seattle Mariner's - it was great to see them have their best we'll get 'em NEXT YEAR!

1A) Related to the Mariner's in 2018, Ken - pester your agent to get you in the M's booth as guest announcer for an Angels game. I'd do it - but I have no clout.

2) I argee that WS games in/near November is a bad idea. The worst I recall was freezing rain - Yankees at Philly - but the Nov 4 finish was caused by "the start of the season being pushed back by the 2009 World Baseball Classic in March"

Unlike the NBA, where the best team wins 90% of the time, Baseball is a relative crapshoot. Going for shorter series makes that even worse.

A combination of things would shave a week off the late World Series:

A) Start the season a week earlier. Imclement weather in late March can be made up with summer double-header (remember double-headers?)

B) Schedule a few more double-headers - the owners probably wouldn't go for 2-for-1 but why not try 2-for-1.5 (games/dollars)?

Jose Altuve - 2 games into ALCS - is 5 for 8 this series after a hot-hitting division series. He's the hottest post-season hitter I can remember.

Interleague games are terrific - perfect for those regional rivalries that otherwise would be "settled" four or more decades apart. Nothing "waters down" the World Series - except seeing AL pitchers try to hit, bunt, and run bases - and already know how to solve that.