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Analysis

MLB: Manfred Abandons Tradition for Revenue

It is no surprise that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is abandoning the tradition of baseball for revenue and proving he only cares about the money.

As we await the start of the 2020 MLB season with no clear date in sight, league Commissioner Rob Manfred is already looking ahead to 2021 with some drastic changes in mind.

According to the New York Post, the league is “seriously weighing” the option of allowing seven teams from each league to make the postseason. Worse than that, the division winners would have the ability to pick their wild card opponents under the proposed format.

The only logical explanation for this absurd proposal is to increase revenue for owners and to open up the playoffs to smaller market teams that may not have a shot otherwise. But business aside, how does this help the sport itself? Having division winners pick their wild card opponents takes away any incentive for teams to win down the stretch. Teams want to win to avoid playing specific opponents and give themselves the best path to the World Series. An exciting pennant race is just that. Now we are going to throw that all away for “reality TV stuff,” as Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer put so well.

Bauer also brought up some unforeseen issues it could cause: “Who put this out without thinking of the fact that the best team in the league is gonna get a six-day layoff, a seven-day layoff while we sort out this whole three games here and this wild card and we’re gonna pick our opponent, meanwhile, the best team in baseball is sitting at home waiting for all this crap to transpire.”

In terms of the effects on pitchers themselves, Bauer states, “god forbid someone’s ace pitches four days before the end of the regular season and has ten days in between starts.”

This brings us to Bauer’s most powerful point: “This isn’t football where you can heal up and that helps…being on a routine is so important in baseball. We play for six months and now your going to say at the most critical time of the year that we’re gonna have ten days off maybe or six days in between games…and that’s supposed to be a benefit?”

There are many critiques sports fans have about baseball, love it or hate it. Playoffs are rarely one of them. In fact, many sports fans believe that baseball has the best playoff format for the reason that you don’t have teams with losing records making the playoffs. Only 33% of MLB teams make the playoffs compared to 38%, 51.6% and 53% in football, hockey, and basketball respectively. And before baseball introduced the second wild card it was only 27%. We only get the cream of the crop in October. Ten teams who truly earn their right to be there after a relentless 162-game journey. Now the commissioner wants to make it even harder on them to satisfy some small-market teams and make a few extra bucks?

At this moment, Manfred’s plans are not drawing attention for obvious reasons. However, once life returns to normal and people get their priorities back in order, fans and players alike are sure to continue to push back on the commissioner’s proposal.

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