Playoff change? MLB commish Rob Manfred focusing on the wrong things

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Someone get Rob Manfred, please. 

Major League Baseball’s commissioner tabled his most asinine hypothetical tweak to America’s Pastime yet, thanks to a report by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. 

Beginning in 2022, seven teams instead of five from each league make the playoffs — which is bad enough but isn’t nearly the worst part of this proposed idea. 

The wonderful thing about MLB’s postseason format is its exclusivity. Half the league doesn’t have to make the playoffs like in the NBA or NHL to have an exciting product because there is enough parity throughout the game to ensure that almost every series is a competitive one. 

Out of the 56 multi-game postseason series dating back to the institution of the Wild Card Game in 2012, there have only been 13 sweeps.

Sherman noted that MLB’s reasoning behind this is to promote teams into spending more rather than remain second-division sides while keeping more fans invested in fringe playoff teams longer, creating more excitement down the stretch. 

Most of the time, however, the league would be rewarding mediocrity. By last year’s standards, the Boston Red Sox — who finished 12 games behind the No. 1 wild card spot — would have made the playoffs. 

But the worst part of this comes in the proposed format. The No. 1 team in each league gets a bye past the Wild Card round like in the NFL, leaving two remaining division winners and four wild card teams. 

The division winners and the top wild card team will host all three games of a potential Wild Card Series. The current format has just two Wild Card teams in each league play a one-game playoff for a chance to advance to the Divisional Series, where the winner faces the top team. 

There will be no rhyme or reason when it comes to deciphering the first round of matchups of this Wild Card series, either.

The top division winner competing in the first round will choose their opponent from the bottom three wild card teams. The final division winner will have the second pick and the No. 1 wild card team will have the third. 

In the never-ending money grab, MLB would televise the playoff picks like NCAA basketball’s March Madness selection show. 

This is baseball, not the Bachelor. Teams shouldn’t be choosing who they meet in the playoffs.

Manfred’s ridiculous playoff tweaks would have to be mutually agreed upon in negotiations with the player’s union in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. If some reactions from current players are any indication of how those talks would go, baseball fans can rest easy knowing it will never happen. 

“No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so I’ll direct this to you, Rob Manfred,” Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer wrote on Twitter. “Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say Bauer has a point. 

Manfred is honing in on all the wrong things when it comes to improving baseball. 

Want to make baseball better?

Institute the automated strike zone so we can stop talking about how bad of an umpire Angel Hernandez is. 

Cut down the time on replay reviews.

Institute the designated hitter in the National League. 

Actually enforce the rule prohibiting batters from stepping out of the box after every pitch (I’m looking at you, Aaron Hicks).  

Make sure teams aren’t banging on trash cans or wearing buzzing band-aids that aid in illegal sign stealing. 

Create some transparency and show us the difference between the baseballs that were flying out of the park during the regular season and dying on the warning track during the playoffs. 

Baseball is the greatest game on the planet. Destroying its soul to appease fans who have the attention span of a gnat just isn’t worth it. 

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