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Plaschke: Five things baseball needs to do in order to fix the postseason

Oct 15, 2010, 8:50 AM EDT

Guerrero celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 5 of their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg

The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke has a column today offering the five things he’d do in order to “fix” the baseball playoffs.  Let’s take them one-by-one:

Stretch out the Division Series to seven games

This, in theory, I like. Anything that can reduce the fluky nature of a short series would be nice. Plus, more baseball is always a better idea than less baseball. Which makes the second suggestion so awful:

Reduce the season to 154 games

No thanks. Plaschke offers this one as a means of accommodating the longer first round, but I think there are better ways to do it. For one things the owners aren’t going to want to simply eliminate eight games from the revenue stream, er, I mean schedule. Instead, schedule extra double headers. One a month would almost totally make up for the longer first round. The biggest objection to double headers now is that they reduce revenue due to wonky TV times and reduction in gate. I think a lower bit of revenue in this respect is preferable to the total elimination of it for eight games under Plaschke’s plan, don’t you?

Eliminate weekend playoff games

This is the one that bothers me the most on a gut level. Not because the absence of weekend playoff games would gall me so much — to be honest, I’m more likely to watch during the week as it is because of social commitments and whatnot — but because the suggestion for this is to avoid competition with football. Maybe it makes sense. Football ratings are pretty unstoppable, I suppose. But man, that’s defeatist and it just bugs me on a primal level. I realize that everything in the world is for sale and that I’m probably swimming against the tide in this regard, but baseball was there first, dammit. I don’t care if it gets beat in the ratings by a random NFL game. I don’t care if it gets beat by a “Punky Brewster” marathon on ABC Family.  Besides, if Plaschke is really animated about the TV ratings, his next suggestion makes no sense anyway:

Play more day games

The reason: day baseball is charming and baseball needs to “get back to its roots.” Look, if charm is what you’re after, that’s great. I love charm! And I love day baseball. But if you care about the ratings as Plaschke obviously does based on the last suggestion, this would be suicide. We all complain about late baseball games, but there’s a reason for them: better ratings. People aren’t at work (and if the playoffs are only during the week, yes, everyone who still has a job in this economy is going to be at work). The only hope of this working is if you make it a Saturday or Sunday game, and then you’re up against Big State U. vs. Big State Tech or some of that awful NFL business.

Reduce the champagne showers

This is a just because. And as I’ve been writing lately, I’d be on board with it. It’d be silly to ban it, obviously, because players are grownups and they should do whatever the hell they want to do, but if I was running a team I’d really hope that my players would limit it to clinching the postseason and winning the World Series. But I suppose everyone’s mileage on this varies.

So where does that leave us? Surprised, really. I agree with two of Plaschke’s five suggestions entirely and one in theory, even if I think it’s probably unworkable.  A 60% agreement rate has to be some kind of record for me when it comes to Plaschke columns and/or columns about fixing a game that really isn’t broken.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    I don’t really get stretching out the first round. Two sweeps probably would not have been affected. The Giants went into Atlanta and took two games, so they have nothing to complain about. And the Rays lost all three games at home. What was fluky about these series and what would have changed if they were 7 game series? I like your idea about double-headers, and agree that they should not eliminate weekends or have more day games. Besides, look at the Phillies/Giants series…Games 3,4,5 and 6 are all day games where they are being played. Just because it is a 7:30 East Coast start time doesn’t make it a night game. Those games will be 4:30 local, which is still a day game last time I checked. And Champagne showers does not even affect the game at all so that’s pretty stupid of Plaschke to even bring them up.

  2. sdelmonte - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    Welcome to the WordPress age.

    I really, really want more day games. It would be nice to see a playoff game to its conclusion.

    Unless it’s Yankees-Red Sox. Those games would still end at 1 am.

    I understand that a five game series is a bit unfair, but I like having one round be shorter than the rest. It creates a different feel than either single elimination or best of seven. (I miss the best of five series in the other sports. But that’s because the NBA and NHL playoffs takes forever in a way that never happens in baseball.)

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM

      Yeah, the Skankee-BooSux games could start with the sun high in the sky and still take until the wee hours to wrap. One good thing about Joe West this year was him trying to get them moving along.

      And the NBA and NHL let losing teams in there to drag the playoffs out for two damn months. Unreal. Seriously. Ice hockey in Miami, Tampa, L.A. or Phoenix in friggin June and July?

  3. leadweights - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    I only agree with the final two listed above. Eliminate weekend playoff games? To revolve the best game ever played around football? An inferior sport? It’s not even an original name for a sport. And it’s more like handball anyway. I’m not going to watch football this entire weekend in protest to this terrible idea.

  4. chipmaker023 - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Without reading it — you’re paid to be that brave, Craig — anyone opting for a 154 game season is failing. That’s just a kneejerk “whut we did before expansion” answer, and while that season length made sense back then, now it would be pointless. I don’t care if the season length gets changed, but pick a number that suits the purpose, not just a witless grab for going back to what Ruth got to play. Hell, make the season longer — stay at 183 days but mandate doubleheaders every other, or every third, week. Dump the off day after the All-Star Game (and if the AS players cannot get there, too bad, play shorthanded on star talent). With the current division alignments and interleague, find a number of games that works. (Heck, Selig likes interleague so much, let’s have IL doubleheaders.)

    I recognize that television dictates postseason start times, but there should be an edict, a requirement in all future contracts, that if the Cubs ever make it to the World Series, there will be a day game in Wrigley Field.

  5. 12strikes - Oct 15, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    1. Stretch out the Division Series to seven games-
    That’s just a load of crap – what do you mean by “fluky nature of a short series”. Of the 4 series this year only 1 could be called an upset, the Rangers over the Tampa, and that went the full 5.
    The Atl/SF series went 4, are you saying that the better team did not win that one?
    The others went 3 games. Are you saying if the series was a 7 game series that either of the losing teams could have come back? A team coming back from a 0-3 defecate has only happened 1 time in 125 years of baseball. A 5 game series if perfect.

    2. Reduce the season to 154 games
    Don’t do that. Go to Sunday Double headers (day/night). Give each team an additional 3 players that can dress for the 2 games on Sunday, and 2 of them have to be pitchers. This would get some of the young talent in the minors some needed experience, and would allow the team to see if any of the minor league players are ready for “the Show”. Making every Sunday a double header would cut the season down by (around) 17 days. Playoffs would start mid September and finish mid Oct. This would be great for places that MIN,COL that have open air stadiums and early winters.

    3. Eliminate weekend playoff games
    FOOLISH!!!! – Not everyone can set their own hours like a reporter can. Some of us have to get up at 5am on the weekdays, and the weekend is the only time I get to see a complete game.

    4.Play more day games –
    Pipe dream. If MLB can not win against 1 prime time football game, how in the hell are they going to win against 14 games.

    5. Reduce the champagne showers – YES YES YES. The day you win your Division, League Champions, WS champions should be the only showers. WILD CARD SHOWERS are the most stupidest thing “YEA LETS CELEBRATE COMING IN 2ND AND MAKING THE PLAYOFF ONLY SO THE OWNERS CAN HAVE 5 GAMES THEY CAN JACK UP THE PRICES TO AND MAKE MORE MONEY!!”. I Would also say drop the showers for the 1st round of the playoffs. What the hell have you won at that point??

  6. Professor Longnose - Oct 15, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    So the owners don’t want to reduce revenue, but the players would be happy to?

  7. andrewkw - Oct 15, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    If they eliminate the non travel off days that’s probably enough to make the ALDS 7 games which I’d be in favor of. Even if they had 2 double headers. Maybe 1 in april and one in the summer if they really need to squeeze a couple more days. I don’t think any drastic changes are needed for these 2 extra games and one potential travel day. Why hasn’t the LCS started yet anyway?

    If these late late starts are better for ratings why don’t all games have these starts? It keeps getting reported that these times have better ratings but I’ve yet to see ONE SINGLE PERSON ever anywhere say they prefer these times. Is there anyone here who loves them? Maybe someone who works on the west coast with a 7am-3pm shift would, but other then that is there anyone on the east coast? Speak up..

    As already mentioned weekends are the only time some of us can stay up late. That’s why it feels like it’s a slap in the face that Saturday’s WS game starts early. Just means no going out for dinner or going really early if you want to do something before the game starts. If it was a week day game starting early sleep before work would be permitted.

    I’m currently not working and this is probably going to be the first postseason I don’t make myself sick sleeping 3-4 hrs a night, forcing myself to stay up. – If my team (jays) ever gets back into the playoffs I think I will have to plan my holidays around it.

    As for the champagne showers. who cares if you don’t like it turn it off. the only post game celebration I might watch is the WS but by the time the games over everyones asleep anyway.

    Seriously find the people who like the late start times..

  8. nps6724 - Oct 15, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    1) Keep the NLDS at 5 games. No reason for it to be 7. With the LCS and WS already at 7, the team that wins it all will have earned it. So if an underdog/lucky team gets past the DS and end up winning the WS, more power to them.

    2 and 4) No to 154. Though I love the doubleheader idea. Baseball needs more of them. They’re always more entertaining. Plus you get to see a lot of guys, who normally just pinch-hit, get to start.

    3) I’m actually okay with this. Football is king, whether you like it or not. Given the choice between a playoff baseball game or a regular-season college or pro football game, most (including myself) will primarily watch the football game(s) and only flip back during commercials.

    5) Champagne/beer showers should be saved for A) securing a playoff spot, B) securing a WS spot, and C) winning the WS. Let’s remember that even recent WS participants like the Yanks and Phillies will have at least a few guys who have never made the playoffs or made the WS. So I’m fine with champagne showers there. But never after winning the DS.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 15, 2010 at 2:22 PM

      I had no problem with the Rangers’ bubbly bath the other night. The other three, yes. But the Rangers hadn’t won a playoff series in forever–literally.

      • nps6724 - Oct 15, 2010 at 2:27 PM

        And for that reason, I don’t have a problem with their celebration. But in general, to me it leads to too much celebration. It makes the others mean a little less when you celebrate the same way each time.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 15, 2010 at 2:52 PM

        Why are champagne showers even a story? Who cares? I mean, what if a team did this after every win during the season? Who would care? It means nothing with regards to what happens on the field. The whole topic is just meaningless and is further proof that there is way too much time between the DS and CS.

  9. Rev. Jesse Jackson - Oct 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I want every home run to be called a “Jesse Jackson”.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 15, 2010 at 2:43 PM

      Hey, as long as you don’t have a problem with being taken out of the park with a baseball bat, you can call them anything you like.

  10. kiwicricket - Oct 15, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    The article forgot to mention “Don’t piss round with HBT” during the playoffs

  11. Adam - Oct 15, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    I’d like to see divisions destroyed and go back to the NL and AL being huge divisions. Then make a balanced schedule where all the NL teams play each other 10 times and 12 teams 11 times (that makes 162) and the AL you’d play everyone 12 times and 6 teams 13 times (also 162). Top 4 teams from each go to the playoffs.

    Get rid of Interleague Play.

    Get rid of the All Star Game giving home field advantage and go by the best record.

    Those are what I got off the top of my head.

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