Wednesday, October 06, 2021

My radical suggestion for fixing the MLB playoffs

First off, thanks so much to everyone for checking in yesterday.  I really appreciate it and it’s nice to know you’re out there… especially since I’m apparently the last blogger left.

The baseball playoffs began yesterday (congratulations, Red Sox) and will continue for what seems like eternity.  And this after seven months of baseball.  I have a radical suggestion for how to make the playoffs more exciting.  You’re going to say I’m crazy but hear me out.

The playoffs are now too long.  Wild card games, division series, league championship series, World Series.   There are four division series and two league championship series.   Division series are best 3 out of 5.  Championship and World Series are best 4 out of 7.   A one-game playoff determines the Wild Card.  

So the Wild Card games are crucial because they’re sudden death.  Then you slog through all the other series, which get longer as the playoffs unfold.  And the later you get into the run, the more breathing room a team has (they can lose more games and still win).  By the time you get to the World Series, unless your team is in it, you’re pretty much done.  

So eliminate games. 

Wild Card series - one game
Division series - best 2 of 3
Championship series - best 3 of 5 (that’s how they used to be)

And only play a best of 7 series for the World Series.  A one-game series would be better, but I'm enough of a traditionalist to want to see a full series. 

I told you it was radical.  Owners would complain because they couldn't cash in as much, and all owners care about is making money.  It would be nice to have a commissioner who's not just the owners footstool, but that's not going to happen.   You'd knock off at least 12 potential games, maybe more. 

If there’s a Game 7 of the World Series this year it will be on November 3rd.  That’s insane.  Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and Boston are lovely that time of year should they make it that far.  And again, the only reason I'm not suggesting a one game winner-take-all World Series is tradition.

Now of course MLB will never adopt my suggestion, but think back to this baseball fans when you're two weeks in and turn over to football or the World Series of Poker.


slgc said...

How are they letting Angel Hernandez umpire the Giants' NLDS series? Seriously!

Assignments for the postseason should only go to qualified umpires.

Bill said...

Hearing this call of Giancarlo Stanton's non-homer:

Made me think of an excellent book called "It's Gone! No, Wait a Minute" by Ken Levine

cjdahl60 said...

I totally agree. And I would be all for shortening the regular season also.

More off days are needed for player health/travel and interleague play is no longer such a big deal. Have a balanced schedule (same number of games against each team in the league) and call it good. With each team playing an identical number of times against each opponent, we'd have a better measure of which team is the best during the regular season.

Anonymous said...

Mark Evanier didn't blog for 32 hours (says he's busy) -

so yes, you're the last blogger standing

(and also I suppose the least busiest)

Yachnoff said...

I agree that the baseball post-season is too long, but I dislike the idea of a one game World Series for several reasons (none of which have to do w/ tradition). First off, baseball managers in win or go home game do everything but let the players play. Between pitching changes, double switches and whatnots, a single game could extend as long as a seven game series. Second, I am grappling with the metaphysical question or whether a one game World Series is really a series?

Mark said...

I love it. The playoffs are too long. But the owners wouldn’t go for it cause they need to make money

Mel Diner said...

Better to just shorten the season to 150 games. Your way you could win over 100 games and be out of the playoffs losing 2 in a row, not fair.

PatGLex said...

The last decent commissioner MLB had was Bart Giamatti. No toady to the owners. Unfortunately, the owners learned their lesson.

Re: playoffs: only Milwaukee would be manageable in a November WS game, because they have a field that can be enclosed. The rest: hahahaha.

Fred said...

Your suggestion is excellent, since — if followed — it’d cut down on fan frostbite for those not sitting in climate-controlled skyboxes with the Bushes and Ellen.
The main obstacles to its implementation would likely be

Sinema and Manchin, stalwart protectors of minority rights (of their donors)
Wealthy owners and broadcasters — e.g. The Cubs’ Ricketts and Sinclair — who’d respond their climate changing is giving us warmer — albeit underwater — November venues.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, I feel sure you will appreciate this snippet of life in your home town:


cd1515 said...

Great idea.
Never happen.

Elf said...

The only thing that will happen is that the regular season will stay the same length and the playoffs could get longer. It's all about that TV money. Advertisers pay a premium to have their ads run during live events because viewers can't fast-forward through the commercials. There's no way that the owners or the players would do anything that would see less money coming into their pockets.

However, one way I could see shortening the season without losing any games or revenue would be mandatory doubleheaders every other Sunday. There'd still be the same number of games, and owners, being the cheapskates they are, would still schedule them as two separate games requiring separate tickets and admission. But it could shorten the season by two weeks. Whether those games would be seven or nine innings is up to debate. With 30 games played on a single day, they could promote the crap out of "Super Baseball Sunday."

Griff said...

Two leagues. Ten teams in each league; no "divisions." No playoffs -- just a World Series at the end of the season.

This worked pretty well through 1968, didn't it?

MikeN said...

You missed the biggest change needed- start the games earlier.
They are not getting a next generation of fans because the games are starting too late and going past midnight.

VincentS said...

You're right, Ken. MLB will never do these things because they make too much sense. BTW - If George Steinbrenner were still with us Phil Neven would have been fired one second after Judge was thrown out at home plate. And you're welcome!

Hamilton Matthews said...

I love you Ken, but if you’re suggesting that I get to see one less game of baseball, I can’t get on board. If they told me the World Series was going to be 52 games, I’d watch every single one of them. I would rather see them add games to the wild card, to make it 2/3, and have the divisional series be best of seven. I’m the kind of fan who roots for extra innings and a longer series even with my team is on top. I’m a fan of my team, but foremost I’m a fan of baseball. More innings, more play, more baseball, give me every single game you’ve got.

Elf said...

@MineN: The problem with starting games earlier is the West Coast. I agree games should start earlier on weekends, but if you move weekday games up to 7pmE/4pmP, anyone in the west with a regular full time job is likely to miss much of the first half of the game. Viewership is always highest at the start of the game, so what they really want is the most viewers available at the start of the game.

Mark said...

Ken, you’ve been around baseball long enough to know that 3 games are not an accurate measure of relative quality. The shorter you make the series, the less likely you are to end up with the best/most worthy team. In short, no thanks.

Andrew said...

Last blogger standing.

Sort of like this analogy;

Michael said...

Not sure if something changed on your side or mine, but my company network will no longer allow me to access this site - says it is a security risk.

Jeff Boice said...

Not bad. My solution is to realign baseball into 4 leagues based on geography and history- that would require adding two new franchises, in Portland and Montreal. Shorten the season to 154 games and have the four league champions meet in the playoffs. Have a limited number of interleague games at season's beginning. My motive is to recreate the old Pacific Coast League (Seattle, Portland, Oakland, S.F., Dodgers, Angels, Padres, and DBacks). The combined of reduced games and travel should shorten the season by a few weeks.

I think MLB has finally figured out that their sport is no longer The National Pastime and that the World Series gets lower ratings than a typical Sunday Night NFL game. So there is some hope.

Mike Bloodworth said...

The baseball playoffs should be more like the WWE or MMA. Take one representative from each team. Put them all inside a steel cage in the middle of a ballpark and let them fight it out. The last one standing wins the World Series for his or her or its team.
That I would watch!



Michael said...

I think a slightly shorter regular season would work better. My problem with the playoff system is encapsulated by today's game: the Dodgers have the second best record in baseball, and may be out if they have one bad day (I'd say the same if the Dodgers had come out on top and today the Giants were in the game). That's a problem with baseball, as opposed to football in particular: in the latter alleged sport, a game a week means you're always up for things.

Actually, this leads me to digress to one of the greatest moments in baseball broadcasting history. On a game of the week in 1988, Joe Garagiola asked The Vin how Kirk Gibson was affecting the Dodgers. Vin replied that Gibson had brought a football mentality to the Dodgers. Then Vin asked, "Have you ever been in a football locker room on the day of a game?" Joe said no. Vin said that of course they both had been in baseball locker rooms, and they're relaxed, with music and card games, because that's baseball. In football, he said, "The tone is almost sepulchral."

Several seconds of silence.

Joe, clearly hysterically laughing: "Sepulchral?"

Vin, clearly trying not to laugh: "Yes, sepulchral."

Several seconds of silence.

Joe: "I can't wait til Jon Miller gets ahold of THAT one."

Bruce P. said...

Players' union contract is up after this year and the talk is that playoffs will be expanded to possibly 14 teams (47% of all teams).

Also based on if LA loses tonight, expect the WC series to be expanded. That's the way baseball works. If NY or LA are harmed by the current rules, the rules are quickly changed.

This is one of the many reasons why computerized balls and strikes will never be implemented. There are numerous examples this season where "superstars" of the Yankees had obvious strikes called balls so that the Yanks could have additional chances.

Same will happen if the Cards take out LA tonight (highly unlikely). If a big market team is knocked out early, there will be a rule change to benefit them the next year.

Cap'n Bob said...

Jefff Boice: The reason Portland won't get a professional baseball team is that Seattle will then want one, too.

Mitch said...

This should be easy to prove. Look over the last 10 years, and see which team won their "round" and see if they could have done it in 3 games/5.
But you hit the ball on the bat with it all being about the money. Less games, less owner's money. But the stadiums are filled during these games, and people aren't forced to go. So owners like it, fans like it. Oh, and probably more importantly, the TV stations like it. Imagine if they came up your plan, it would get done.

Rory W said...

As TV executive Don Ohlmeyer famously told sportswriter Tony Kornheiser, "The answer to all your questions is: Money." (

There's no way owners are going to reduce their opportunity to make money by having fewer games.

"It would be nice to have a commissioner who's not just the owners footstool, but that's not going to happen."

The commissioner is paid by the owners. He's not a neutral party governing for the "good of the game." He's an employee of the owners and is going to do what his bosses tell him to do.

TLB said...

Eliminate inter league play during the regular season. It's bad enough we have to play the DH - American League in the World Series.

Liggie said...

More playoff games on weekend afternoons. Believe it or not, there are some sports fans who don't like college football or the NFL, and they'd like a meaningful alternative to the endless NCAA games at 1PM or 4 PM Eastern. NBC has no football except for Sunday Night NFL and Notre Dame home games, and they have a grand baseball TV heritage. Natural spot.

Lemuel said...

Who needs sports? In my antenna TV world, the stations are completely saturated with ads for sports-betting apps. And for Lume, the crotch-stank deodorant.

stephen catron said...

This is how I would do the playoffs for the top 4 pro teams: NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA.
All teams with a winning record (must be a winning) get into playoffs. Then teams are seeded.
The best record plays the worse and the best record always gets all the games until the best record team loses.
If there is an odd number to start then the team with the best record gets a bye. I think this would create excitement for a team to push at the end to get that winning record. No division winners who won with only tying get in.
As for number of games played NFL obviously, one and done. The others should be best 2 of 3, then the finals 4 of 7.
Playing for a better record to get home advantage would become truly important if all games are played at the place with the best record.

DyHrdMET said...

What you're eliminating is some of the less interesting games at the start of the series. It might actually be beneficial to everyone. It's fewer games for the networks to produce. It's fewer games for people to pay to attend (okay, that one might stop this whole thing). It makes the other games that much more important, and should drive ratings up. I wonder what the math would work out to. Maybe we wouldn't get fatigued at the end of each series. It would certainly change the strategy a bit, depending on how the series are spread out.

steveleb said...

Can I still share? I
Missed yesterday. I’ve known Ken 25 years and knew I was related to him for one. Think there’s a plot line?

Roger Owen Green said...

Your idea's OK, but I'd STill want 154 game seasons.

The Big Guy said...

Here's what I need. I need to do away with three divisions in each league. It's about time that the best teams enter the playoffs in the best positions. Why do the Giants go directly to the division series while the Dodgers are forced to participate in a play-in game when they have the second best record i all of baseball. Set up the playoffs however you want, but if it's 12 teams then 1 plays 12, 2 plays 11 and so on. No more giving an advantage based on where your home team is located.

ScottyB said...

I seem to remember, when I was a kid of the 1960s, the World Series would be wrapping up right about now.

Prairie Perspective said...

The more postseason baseball, the better.
MLB plans to add teams in 2022. Good. October, and yes, early November diamond drama are ideal. Play ball!

PTfromMN said...

At least the Brewers have a dome, if they get that far.

Nick Jonas Fan said...

I think the solution is "Make the strike zone bigger." I think that in the 80s, people were up hacking at every pitch. Stupid Moneyball started to favor walks, and it drove pitch counts up.

Average pitches per game are up by about 30 in 20 years. At 45 seconds per, that's 20 minutes per game right there.

Tell batters to swing the bat, and the games will either go faster, or be more exciting.

Vincent said...

Anyone know if an LA-area radio station is carrying today's ALDS games (Chisox at Astros, Bosox at Rays)? I believe ESPN has the rights, but with the Rams at Seattle at 5 tonight, 710 AM won't carry the game and its new simulcast, 1110 AM, probably won't either. KLAA (830 AM), the Angels' flagship, carries some ESPN programming, but I'm in a downtown rehab center and its signal might not be accessible. (FS1 is not on my TV here; neither is TBS for NLDS games.)

Vincent said...

The Chicago-Houston game is on 1110 AM (is it still KRLA?).

ScarletNumber said...

I think it is fundamentally unfair for the Giants and Rays to have to play a best 3-out-of-5 against a divisional opponent when they just bested the team in 162. The Giants should be playing the Braves and the Rays should be playing the White Sox.

Please note that it used to be set up this way.