2010 MLB Playoffs: 10 Ways To Improve MLB’s Postseason

October 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Admit it, you’re enjoying these baseball playoffs. The excitement. The do-or-die nature of every game. Brian Wilson’s epic beard-mohawk combo that makes him look like a guy begging for change outside McDonald’s.


Wait, what’s that? You’re not enjoying these playoffs? Really? Maybe I’m the only one.

It’s true. Despite everything that’s happened so far—Roy Halladay’s no-hitter, the Rangers winning three games in Tampa, the Twins…well never mind, the Twins just suck- these are the least talked about baseball playoffs that I can remember; maybe of my entire lifetime.

Chatting with friends on the phone and communicating with people on Twitter, it seems like most of America has the same interest in the baseball postseason that CC Sabathia does for fruits and vegetables. None.

Now, we all know the reasons why. The games are too long. Our attention spans are too short. The same teams win every year. The new ones aren’t compelling. And with all that, I’m starting to wonder, is baseball losing steam as a mainstream sport?

I’m afraid it might be, considering that the most talked about thing from the first week of the playoffs (other than Halladay’s no-hitter), were those lousy Conan O’Brien blimp commercials. America just doesn’t seem to care about baseball.

Which is a shame, because I love baseball. As I mentioned last week, I grew up around the game, and played it all the way through the end of high school. I probably understand the intricacies of it as well as any sport. Yet even for me, Aaron Torres—a guy who writes about sports for a living—some of these games are a tad bit boring. Which isn’t good.

It’s also why I’m here to make some suggestions on how to improve the product.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you anything stupid, like, “We should have Brett Favre and Jenn Sterger call games together,” or “Let Pauly D from Jersey Shore throw out the first pitch of the World Series.” As much as like that second idea, even I’m not dumb enough to think it could actually happen.

Nope, these are 10 real suggestions. Ten ways to hopefully appease old fans, cultivate new ones, and maybe in the process, pump a little life back into a dying sport. Baseball might not be able to change the product on the field, but they can change the way they produce and present it.

Here’s some food for thought. And as always, I encourage you to share your ideas.

Because of length, this is just PART of Aaron’s 10 Ways To Spice Up The MLB Postseason. To read the remainder, please click here or visit www.aarontorres-sports.com

No. 1. Have the Two Highest Finishing Non-Division Winners Play a Three-Game Series To Earn the Wild Card:

I’ve heard other people mention this, and couldn’t agree more. And you know why? Because you can never have too much playoff baseball! It doesn’t hurt that in the process, it would keep a lot of teams playing hard down the stretch.

Take this year for example. The Yankees ended up winning the American League Wild Card instead of the AL East, in large part because they lost nine of their last 11 games.

Since there was no real threat of missing the playoffs (they clinched a postseason berth sometime around Memorial Day), they essentially treated the last two weeks of the season like an additional, glorified spring training session. They rested guys up. Their starting pitchers only threw a few innings per outing.

The Yankees might as well have been playing split-squad games against college teams those last few weeks. Again, it felt like spring training.

But think how differently those few weeks would’ve played out if the Yankees had to play two or three extra games if they didn’t win the division. Think Joe Girardi would’ve spent the last two weeks of the regular season spitting sunflower seed shells on himself, instead of actually managing? Of course not.

The Yankees would have been playing hard down the stretch, trying to get the division title and the first round bye. In the process, those last few regular season games in Boston would’ve been the most entertaining baseball of the year, than just an excuse to get Marcus Thames some extra at bats, and Joba Chamberlain an extra inning or two of work.

And speaking of Boston, if the Yankees didn’t win the division, guess who they would’ve played this year for the Wild Card berth? Yep, that’s right, the Red Sox. Who’s opposed to three more games of those two playing? Besides the Red Sox, the “Wild Card Round,” (as I’ll call it), would’ve had teams like the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Tigers and Rockies playing hard until the last game or two of their season as well.

Sure the season would take a few days longer, but again, who cares? Especially when you’ve got five or six more teams involved in the playoff race every year.

No. 2 The Winner of the Wild Card Plays The Team With The Best Record In Each League:

Essentially, this is in-line with the first rule. After all, isn’t the goal to have more teams playing for something down the stretch? With this rule in place, even the top teams would have reason to play hard all 162 games, with the opportunity to play the Wild Card winner—coming off an extra series—in the first round.

Also, shouldn’t there be incentive for a team to finish with the best record? Because, whoever came up with the current rule—that the Wild Card winner can’t play a Divisional opponent in the first round—is an idiot. Yes, I’m looking at you, Bud Selig.

With the system that’s currently in place, teams are, in a way, rewarded for winning the Wild Card and punished for winning their division. If you don’t believe me, ask any Reds fan. They won their first NL Central title in 15 years, and what did they get to show for it? Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in back-to-back games, that’s what.

How is that fair? Think they would’ve preferred the Giants instead? And even though they ended up losing in the NLDS, don’t you think the Braves were much happier getting San Francisco in the NLDS rather than getting Philadelphia? Again, why reward the Braves that way.

Finally, having Divisional opponents face off in the first round would only add to the drama of the playoffs. This year we would’ve gotten the Rays and the Yankees in the first round, two teams that know each other like an old married couple, and have the same disdain for each other too.

If those two had played, that would’ve been the must see matchup of the first round. Instead we got the Twins-Yankees laugher, and the Rays-Rangers series, that drew the lowest ratings of the playoffs on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of which…

No. 3 No Games On Sunday’s:

Ever. This is non-negotiable.

Again, for Major League Baseball, the goal here is to get your product out to as many fans as possible. And with America as a whole going into a catatonic state any time the National…Football…League is even mentioned, it’s just stupid to try and compete against it. Really, why bother. You will lose.

My suggestion to baseball is simple: Take Sunday’s off. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, and it’s Peyton Manning’s day. Don’t ever forget that.

No. 4 Let Fans Vote For the LCS and World Series MVP:

This is absolutely, positively my favorite idea (mainly because I haven’t heard anyone besides myself mention it).

Here’s why: We’re Americans. To a degree, we’re self-absorbed. We want our opinions to be voiced, and our voices to be heard. Why do you think thousands of bozos like me create sports blogs and spend countless hours on message boards? It’s because we’re dumb enough to think that people actually care what we have to say! Crazy, I know.

But it is that sense of self-centered jingoism that makes shows like Dancing With The Stars a hit. Believe me, 20 million people aren’t tuning in to see “The Situation,” do the samba in a sequined shirt. Most people have things to do with their time. Granted, I’m not one of them. But still.

No, the reason people watch Dancing With Stars, American Idol, America’s Next Top Model (I swear, I’ve only heard of that one, never seen it. What? I swear!), is because we like knowing we have a say in something. That our opinion matters. That no matter how little our voice is, it’s getting heard.

Why couldn’t this work for the LCS and World Series MVP’s? It’s not like any of us care who wins the stupid award anyway. Or even remember who wins for that matter.

Actually, here’s a quick pop quiz: Who was last year’s World Series MVP.

Don’t you dare look it up!

The answer is Hideki Matsui. If I had given you 25 guesses, would you have ever gotten that? I wouldn’t have.

But, if you’d stayed up until 2:30 in the morning after Game 6 of last year’s World Series voting for Matsui, would you remember then ? I thought so.

This is just PART of the article on 10 Ways To Spice Up the MLB Playoffs. To read the rest, including thoughts on Steve Phillips, hot sideline reporters, and much, much more, please click here or visit www.aarontorres-sports.com

Also, to get updates on all of Aaron’s articles, podcasts and free giveaways, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres or by downloading the Aaron Torres Sports App for FREE for your iPhone or Android

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