Rob Manfred’s run as MLB commissioner hasn’t been without scrutiny. Under the vision of Manfred, MLB has recently seen arguably its biggest scandal ever, countless rule changes have taken the game under fire, everything from eliminating the 4 pitch-out intentional walk to the documented “Buster Posey rule.” The league has seen John Coppolella take advantage of international free agents and mound visits limited. The strategy is less important to Manfred than pace of play, as the league has implemented a 3-out minimum per relief pitcher and is trying to implement a pitch clock. Killing the strategy even more, the universal designated hitter is likely on its way. MLB almost had an umpire strike last year amidst the reports of robotic umpires. Manfred and the Rays are seriously contemplating a split-season move to Montreal, alienating the players and its fanbase. Speaking of teams and locations, he still has yet to figure out if the Oakland A’s are moving or if they can somehow get something better than the coliseum. Manfred wants to get rid of half of the minor leagues. Alienating the players is one thing, but doing it right before the CBA is up in 2021 is gutsy. The players and teams have been calling Manfred out publicly for the job he’s done. By all accounts, Manfred is becoming the worst commissioner MLB has ever seen, with the mindset of changing the game instead of improving it, to leave his mark. All in all, the bad ideas couldn’t get much worse, seemingly…until it did.
On Monday, Joel Sherman of the NYPost reported that MLB is looking into reformatting the postseason. The highlights include MLB getting rid of the wildcard game, the top seeds getting a first round bye, the first round being best of 3, the top seeds choosing their opponents and 7 teams per league instead of the usual 5.
Where do I even begin with this? First off, there are 30 teams in the league. 14 teams would be one team shy of 50% of baseball making the playoffs. What makes the playoffs more important if every middle of the pack team makes it? What if the league is top heavy, and one day a team under .500 sneaks in? It would completely dilute the playoffs.
Secondly, it’s called a “reality TV” twist. This is just a very bad marketing idea trying really hard to connect with the younger demographic, as if they’d even care. It’s a major straw grasp. Why do the top seeds choose their opponents? That makes the entire concept of seeding irrelevant. Let’s say the Yankees get the top seed and The Twins get the second seed. If the Yankees choose the Twins, can the Twins dispute it since they’re one of the top 3 seeds and can choose their opponent? If the top seed gets a bye, do they choose who plays in the first round? The bye shouldn’t impact the seeding, but it’s so convoluted it raises more questions than it does answers. The idea of a bye is also very ignorant to me. This is baseball. The beauty of baseball is that anybody can beat anybody on a given day. If the Nationals had to play the Braves who owned them in the regular season, they don’t win the World Series. The Braves, under this format, could’ve chosen them while the Dodgers get the bye. The Dodgers beating up on 4 really bad teams gets them a better record than the Braves or Nationals who have 4 really good teams in their division. Over a 162, the better record doesn’t mean better team, thus the Nationals winning the World Series. The Rays, for example, are a better team than the Twins; the Twins just beat up on a bad division while the Rays are in baseball’s top division. If I have the best record, I also don’t want the bye. Historically, teams that take a week off get out of a groove. Baseball is all about momentum and routine. You cannot ride a hot hand when they have a week to cool off. It seems like an easy way to help the big market clubs like the Yankees or Dodgers, even if it may backfire. The thing is, though, these teams don’t need that help.
I really don’t want to see the win or go home wildcard game leave. For me, that’s not only the most exciting part, but you have to strategize because you’re using your best hands in the Wild Card game and won’t have them available in the Game 1 LDS if you win. It puts win or go home pressure and excitement to start the playoffs and leads to magical moments.
All in all, Rob Manfred has been the worst commissioner in the history of baseball, but this is a new low. It’s ironic that MLB is no longer testing for marijuana, because Manfred is obviously smoking the good stuff. I’m honestly not sure how the players union will react, because on one hand, it’s more games these guys have to play, the bye could seriously end up hurting some top talent, among other things. But on the flipside, more players get playoff bonuses. Regardless, this is not a concept I can get behind.
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