Wednesday, October 02, 2002

It's baseball playoffs time and football season in America, so my Australian and European readers will have to bear with me while I make some very important sports-related comments this month.

I'm not a fan of the wild-card team in baseball playoffs or even three divisions in each league for that matter. But given the current baseball playoff format and league organization, I have a few recommendations that will increase fan interest, raise television ratings, preserve the sanctity of the game, and ultimately lead to more revenue for Major League Baseball.

The most desirable match-up in the World Series is a meeting of the best team from each league, so the likelihood of this occurring should be increased. Again, this is good for fan interest and ratings, and it also rewards teams for maintaining consistent excellence over a 162-game season. Unfortunately, the advent of the wild-card team in the baseball playoffs undermines these principles and decreases the likelihood of a stellar World Series match-up, because a weaker wild-card team can get lucky in a best-of-five series and knock off the best team.

To correct this flaw, I propose the following two changes. First, a few days should be taken off between the end of the season and the playoffs and in between playoff rounds to allow for teams to set up their most desirable pitching rotation. Teams should not be penalized for having better competition, especially teams with better records than their playoff competition. Second, there should be no days off during a playoff series. A five- or seven-game series must be played on consecutive days. Teams would be forced to use standard five-pitcher rotations, so the advantage would go to the overall better team, not the team with two dominating pitchers. It's possible to fly across the country and still play on consecutive nights, and both teams would have to deal with identical travel problems. I also suspect there would be greater fan interest and ratings if games were played on consecutive nights instead of fans guessing whether or not a playoff game is on television on any given day.

Send me your baseball comments, and read Off-wing Opinion.