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Frank Deford wants a 140-game season and more playoff teams

Aug 31, 2011, 9:12 AM EDT

Old Man Cloud

Frank Deford does a weekly sports rant on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and it’s rather sad. Sad because it presents us with a guy who has a body of sportswriting work that is virtually unmatched offering little contrarian rants that seldom make any sense, internal or otherwise, and are filled more with curmudgeonly bile than anything else.

Today’s rant is a great example.  You can read it here or you can listen to it here. Short version:  society has changed, other sports do dumb things with the length of their season and the culture has lost its attention span so baseball should change to adapt to it.

He claims he wants a 140-game season, more playoff teams and some round robin format.  He offers no argument for why any of that would be good for baseball.  He simply says, in effect, “baseball has to get with the times, baby” and offers his radical little plan, most likely as a means of riling people up.

Well, mission accomplished. But I’m not riled at his ideas, which are patently ridiculous for a dozen reasons. I’m riled that a guy who was once one of the more thoughtful and genuinely (as opposed to gimmickly) provocative voices in sports commentary has been reduced to this kind of garbage.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I won’t even waste my time reading it. Typical radio guy that wants to generate contrarian ideas to make waves. Sounds like what that moron from ESPN morning radio/Mike Greenberg — who should just stick to football– suggested earlier in the summer. 140 game season and more playoff teams? Baseball doesn’t need to change with the times. It’s fine just like it is.

    • florida727 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:48 AM

      162 makes perfect sense IF symmetry were used.
      Right now there are 14 teams in the AL, 16 in the NL. Should be 15 and 15.
      Three divisions in each league. Five teams in each division.
      You play ALL 3-game series.
      You play 18 games against the other 4 in-division teams (total of 72 games). 3 series each, of 3 games each, at home and away.
      You play each out-of-division team 9 times (10 x 9 = 90 games). Alternate years for the out-of-division teams as to which team gets the third 3-game series at home.
      No inter-league play.

      72 in-division games + 90 out-of-division games = 162 game schedule. Leave the playoffs alone.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        What do you do with the wallflowers? The one team in each league that doesn’t have a partner?
        Back to the drawing board.

      • florida727 - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:31 AM

        Might have to explain your comment. There is no one team in each league “that doesn’t have a partner”. All the in-division teams are accounted for, as are all of the out-of-division teams. And all the divisions are equal. Three in each league. Five in each division.

      • heynerdlinger - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        You cannot have an odd number of teams in each league without interleague play. If all the teams in your 15-team American League play on the same day, you have seven games (7 games x 2 teams per game = 14 teams) and one left out.

    • gogigantos - Aug 31, 2011 at 1:08 PM

      curious, little t, is Deford another legend of written that you don’t know, or are you just randomly slamming legends these days?

  2. easports82 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Classic picture. Though, you may have to explain it to Deford.

  3. mplsjoe - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    I’ve enjoyed some of DeFord’s NPR rants, especially a few that are more feature- instead of opinion-based. I’m 100% with Craig on this one, however. Dumb, reason-less idea. Are there more meaningless exercises than the NBA and NHL playoffs, which is what DeFord envisions for baseball? He’s better than this.

  4. Joe - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Frank Deford is Dread Andy Rooney.

  5. FC - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Well to be fair, his idea wouldn’t make baseball any worse. The post-season is already a crap-shoot, why not embrace it and go full metal alchemist! 😀

    • heyblueyoustink - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:17 AM

      Dammit Al !!

  6. sdelmonte - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Yeah, it’s hard to believe what’s become of Deford. I think he never quite managed to find a place for the long-form articles he did so well in our youth, and has settled for being just another master of the soundbite. It’s a pity he doesn’t seem to be taking his rightful place alongside JoePo with his own curiously long posts.

    That said, I sometimes wonder if the season isn’t too long. This season, with almost everything decided, 162 games will be a long march. Are we really better off with 162 instead of 154? Do we really need divisional rivals to square off 18 times? And wouldn’t be better off with a season that starts a little later in the spring? I know that the odds of the season getting shorter are close to zero, but there is nothing sacred about the season being as long as it is now. (At least no one wants to make it longer, like in oval-pigskin-ball.)

    • Chipmaker - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      There is nothing magical about 162 games; that number served a genuine logistical purpose when it was introduced in 1961-62, but it is still used now simply due to historical inertia.

      If MLB wants to consider changing the number of games — and if it did, it wouldn’t change it by much — it should start with what the schedule should provide in terms of competitiveness, and see what number fits those needs best. If it still comes out at 162 (which I doubt), fine, but otherwise, make the tweak. There is no reason to stay stuck there.

    • easports82 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      With the talk of further expanded playoffs, I’d be in favor of dropping back to 154 or so games. November baseball just isn’t as good, especially when it’s being played in the north-east corridor at 40 degrees.

  7. cull1224 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    I could not imagine the owners agreeing on a cutback to 140, but if they are going to add another wildcard team, then a cutback to 154 makes all the sense in the world — oops, there goes that idea. Owners/rationality — how dumb of me! While I am ranting — how about the league , moreso Selig, doing something about that macho idiocy of dugouts and bullpens emptying after a batter gets plunked on the a*s?
    An NBA – type fine or suspension for anyone leaving his seat would make lots of sense — darn, negated my own argument once again. Ciao!

  8. yankeesfanlen - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    Since brevity is the focus of the rant, and archaic non-functioning timetables the subject, let’s just reduce NPR to 3 days a week. Radio is so 1932.

  9. okwhitefalcon - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Has anyone ever seen Deford and Grandpa from “The Munsters” in the same place?

  10. Old Gator - Aug 31, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I don’t particularly care what MLB does with its schedule. I reserve the right to grow weary and bored with a season of any indeterminate length once my rooting interest tanks.

    • easports82 - Aug 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      So, about 2 months is good for you?

    • gogigantos - Aug 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      I enjoy indeterminate lengths,,, suits the tropical weather of Taiwan and the mercurial nature of my team,, and ball in general,,,,
      well,, ok
      both tend to, well, trend down,,
      somehow,, that works out well for long term love and viewing
      loving baseball and a team is a difficult affair

  11. gogigantos - Aug 31, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    (#*$&^ may as well be married

    prefer baseball really, just don’t tell my mother that she is not ever ever having any of those grandchild things,,,,,,,,

    somebody,, please,,, back me up here

  12. hep3 - Aug 31, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    I would like Baseball better without the DH and without interleague play, but I still like it better than football or any other sport. I am a dinosaur.

    However, I do agree with this pithy quote by the late Edward Bennett Williams:

    “What is dumber than the dumbest football owner? The smartest baseball owner.”

  13. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    Grampa Simpson’s drivers license photo, nicely done Craig

  14. raysfan1 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    Deford’s been a curmudgeon long enough now it’s hard for me to remember when he wasn’t.
    Regardless, neither 140 or 154 games will ever get serious consideration–not unless the TV networks offer MLB more money for fewer games, enough more to completely dwarf the lost gate revenue, concessions, etc. Not happening.

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