If you go by the old philosophy of less is more, then you may be baffled by the announcement by Major League Baseball that it is expanding the playoff schedule for this season. Commissioner Bud Selig has been hinting at this happening for years, but now it is a reality that was condoned by Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, who claims players are in favor of the expanded format. “Players want to expand the the importance of winning the division.” You have to wonder if Bud has his hand up this guy’s back and is working his lips.
I have never liked the idea of expanding anything in sports because more games mean more risk for injuries. Look at the NFL going to a 16-game season. There have never been more injuries and more players threatened by not just losing a season but also their careers.
Another worry is weather, and that is not coming into play in the thought process here. Teams like Minnesota and Milwaukee can realistically expect that being in the playoffs (and then the World Series) could mean snow delays instead of rain delays, and even canceled games because of snow. I doubt that Selig is going to grab a shovel and help out in that case, so why is he so hot for this expansion?
Of course, the answer is revenue. By expanding the playoffs to include ten teams, the idea is to no doubt push the playoffs to a longer (and more lucrative) format. For this year only the scheme will involve one-game playoffs between the four wild card teams, with those teams then having the home field advantage for the first two games of the division series. Yes, you read that correctly! It doesn’t make much sense rewarding the teams who did not finish first in their divisions, but that is how it will be this fall.
In the 2013 season the Houston Astros will move to the American League West, making two 15-team leagues with three divisions of five. While Selig isn’t saying so, it looks like there will be more playoff games in the future, meaning perhaps two more wild card teams (giving each division a wild card) and more games between these teams (perhaps a three-game series).
I don’t know about you, but to me this “expansion” is all about more money, and the prospect of watching Game 7 of the World Series over Thanksgiving weekend becomes more of a possibility. So if you like the idea of hearing “Play ball” and passing the sweet potatoes, enjoy! For me this is just another example of executives ignoring what is good for a sport, the players, and the fans. I hope all that revenue allows teams to purchase long johns for their players; they’re going to need them.
Photo Credit – Sports Illustrated