Photo: Werner Kunz
Earlier this week, a relatively boring Monday Night Football game outdrew a crucial Major League Baseball playoff game in the TV ratings.No matter what defence baseball lovers might offer, that is plain embarrassing. And it gets at a sad fact: baseball is growing increasingly irrelevant in America.
Last year, when the Yankees won the World Series, it felt like nobody in New York cared.
But don’t worry, a couple friends of mine and I were at a bar last night and we figured everything out.
MLB needs EPL-style relegation. The team with the worst record in the majors would get booted to a league of independent minor league teams, and the best independent minor league team would get promoted to the majors. This will make fans care about teams outside the pennant race, encourage owners to spend on their product (winning), and give the Pittsburgh Pirates lots and lots of minor league championships.
The World Series should be the only playoff series. The World Series should come immediately after the regular season as a contest between the NL team with the best record and the AL team with the best record. This would create a TV ratings bonanza from August to September of every year as each league’s top seven or so teams jockey for the pole position. It’s not getting rid of the playoffs; its stretching them out over months.
No inter-league play until the World Series. With no playoffs, the World Series will inevitably turn into a huge event. How to make it huger? Re-introduce the novelty of making it a contest between two teams that almost never play each other.
The baseball season needs to be shorter. Owners will take a hit at the gate in the short term, but over the long haul people will enjoy the product more if each game matters more. Fans also need a chance to miss the game.
The World Series should be played in 10 days or less. The Series should only take that long because teams need time to travel between cities. Remember the constant action of the World Cup last summer?
If you hate the no-playoffs-but-the-World-Series idea, let’s try a month-long World Cup-style round-robin tournament instead. The division winners and two wild cards would spend October all playing each other. This solves the problem created by the fact that winning MLB’s current post-season tournament, a sequence of five and seven game series, has little correlation to do with being a team good at winning often over a 162 game regular season. Fans can feel there’s something wrong with the current system, and it dampens their enthusiasm.
A real World series after the world series. How epic would a 7 game series against Japan’s top pro team be each year?
Pitchers should get 15 seconds between pitches. Games must be shorter and more action-packed.
Think these fixes are outrageous? You’re gonna love the NFL in 2020.
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