Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Bud Selig, 15 is not an even number

There have been rumblings about baseball expanding the playoffs for a year or so and I have done my best to hope that they were wrong. Baseball is not like the other 3 (or should I say 2 since the NBA is on it's way out) sports in that it doesn't need, nor should it have, an extended playoffs. Not to go all Bob Costas on you but in my opinion there are too many playoff teams currently. If the baseball playoffs were tweaked in one way or another my vote would be toward going back to the old system of two divisions per league and no wild card teams. Instead it looks like they are going to expand to having two wild cards per league in order to add another round of playoffs. I hate this. I hate this with the burning intensity of 1,000 suns. In order to avoid playing baseball on Thanksgiving or starting in February they are going to have to make the first round a best of 3 or 1 game playoff and that is not how baseball is intended to be played. Unlike football the best teams in baseball are best seen through a 7 game series. (As an aside, how bad ass would it be to see the Super Bowl played as best of 7? This would eliminate the sports graveyard that is the end of football through the start of the NCAA Tournament) This way a team has to use their entire pitching rotation and can't rely on having 1 good pitcher, when a series is cut to 5 games or fewer depth means less and it's possible for a team to advance as almost a fluke. As teams play a grueling 162 game season roster depth is one of the most important things that differentiates the good teams from the great ones and a 7 game series helps display that. After this season there were 3 90 game winners in the AL East despite Boston's attempts to lose every game in September so it seems like 2 wild card teams would be warranted but I think this is more of an abnormality than the norm. I'm pretty sure that within 2 or 3 years we'll see a wild card team that is only a game or 2 over .500 and frankly teams like that don't belong in the playoffs.

Yet I have almost no problem with expanding the playoffs compared to the way I feel about the idiocy of the Astros moving to the American League. Currently there are 14 teams in the AL and 16 in the NL. Now, as someone who doesn't know baseball they would think this is ridiculous and that the leagues should be even and to some degree you would be correct. The problem lies in scheduling. If there are 15 teams in a league it means one of two things. Either 1 team will get 3 days off in a row once in a while and we know for sure this won't happen. So this means that there will be interleague play every goddamned day. Interleague play is a horrendous abomination that should be done away with. I don't give a shit if players are injecting every known substance into their asses. I do care about having to see David Ortiz in the field or having to watch Josh Beckett swing a bat.

The Designated Hitter has completely changed the way teams are put together in each league. (The AL has it, the NL doesn't for those who don't know, although I assume you would have stopped reading 2 sentences into this post) An American League team can't hope to contend without a bona fide slugger as DH. In the National League there is no DH so they don't have that extra hitter. Therefore whenever there is interleague play one team is at a distinct disadvantage depending on where they are playing. In a DH-less NL stadium an AL team is basically forced to either sit their DH or have him in the field taking the place of an everyday fielder, either way it puts them at a disadvantage. This also means the pitcher has to "hit." AL pitchers will get, at most, 8 at bats a season so it's safe to say that they usually make fools of themselves. When the tables are turned and an NL team has to play with a DH it puts them at a disadvantage as well, although not as great of one. With the pitcher out of the batting order an NL team will plug in one of their bench players at DH. These players are usually utility men who are more capable with a glove than a bat since they are usually used for double switches, yet the AL team is allowed to keep their DH who is usually one of the top 3 hitters on the team.

I realize that went on for a bit, sorry. The point is that it is moronic to want interleague play to occur every day of the season. The road team will always be at a greater disadvantage than they already are by being on the road. The only real solution I can see is that MLB will finally have to shit or get off the pot in regard to the DH. Frankly I'd rather see a DH in both leagues but I'm sure all the super purist NL fans would be up in arms about this. "There's so much more strategy without the DH! Every player has to play both sides of the ball, it's pure baseball!" the purists will whine. First off, bullshit to both. I've never gotten excited about a double switch in my life and I'd much rather see someone who can actually hit take those 4 abs per game. If pitchers actually tried to be real hitters than it would be different but that will never happen. When a pitcher is even a mediocre hitter, like Carlos Zambrano, people go gaga over it. It's comical. I don't like seeing free outs at the bottom of a lineup like you do in the NL but that's my personal opinion. I would be totally fine if they eliminated the DH through all of baseball. Just don't give me an entire season featuring the farce of interleague play every day. Even if it's the same amount of interleague play for each team just spread out in small increments I don't care.

I've wanted to get rid of interleague play for years. It was always kind of cool that when teams met in the World Series it might be the first time they ever played each other, not just that season but EVER. For every marquee match up like Red Sox/Cubs at Wrigley there are countless Tampa Bay/Colorado and Cleveland/San Diego series' that no one in their right mind cares about. Each league used to be a unique entity and that's why the All Star game used to matter before they put a bullshit stipulation into it to "Make It Matter!" Of course my dream of eliminating interleague play will die if the Astros actually do move to the AL. And if you are going to move a team from the NL why can't the AL just take the Brewers back. THEY WERE OURS TO BEGIN WITH! No one cares about Houston. It's a horrible city with a god awful baseball team playing in an atrocious wiffle ball field. The fact that the team can be sold for more than $529 is pretty impressive to me.

I guess it's inevitable that this is the way things are going to go down though. More playoff games and interleague play all the time, joy. Please just fix the DH situation so the sport isn't bastardized completely out of recognition from the game I grew up loving.


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  2. A 7 game Superbowl series would indeed "eliminate the sports graveyard that is the end of football through the start of the NCAA Tournament", and replace it with a new sports graveyard filled with overly concussed and otherwise broken NFL players.