By James Summerlin, Sports Editor
Each season, every MLB team plays a guaranteed 162 games. If two teams are tied for a playoff spot, a one-game play-in game is played at the end of the regular season to determine who advances to the playoffs.
After the season, eight teams meet in the playoffs to settle the deal. In the playoffs, a team could potentially play 21 games, so fans could potentially see a 184-game season. Apparently, Major League Baseball changed the postseason format so fans can see as many games as possible.
Beginning this season, the MLB will add two more teams to the postseason. The first games of the postseason will involve a one-game playoff for a wild-card spot.
Teams that win their division are guaranteed to play in October. The next two best teams in each league will fight for the last spot in the divisional series with a one-game playoff. The winner advances.
A 162-game season may be exciting to watch, but the time to play every game runs long. We may see a 185-game season if there is a tie for the last spot. Baseball continues to lengthen its season.
Two issues can be brought up regarding the long season. First, the regular season games will not mean as much down the stretch.
Last season, three regular season games decided playoff berths. The most eventful night baseball ever had in the regular season would not be possible if a new playoff system were in place. More playoff games do not always mean better games.
The other issue is the time element of the move. Scheduling another playoff round could push the World Series back further into the winter. Baseball was created for spring, summer and occasionally autumn.
Baseball cannot compete with football in November. Football television ratings in recent years beat baseball ratings easily. Baseball must avoid the month of November for its own sake.
This idea has potential if the league shortens its regular season. A long regular season will not work in baseball’s favor. More is not better. Each regular season game now will mean less.
But the owners will not want to shorten the season, because they will lose money by cutting games. They should be more worried about the importance of the game.