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The View from Section 316

The Playoffs are Great. Let's Make them Better

It's here. The magical time that is October has finally arrived, and baseball nuts like us are rejoicing.

Problem is, not many others are taking note of the great benefits that the baseball post season has to offer.

I'll admit it, through many of the past seasons; I've quit paying attention to baseball while it still is going on. With a team consistently as horrible as the Pittsburgh Pirates to cheer for, I have given up on the game as early as Labor Day.

A lot of other people give up on baseball, which is why baseball's ratings for the playoffs have fallen behind the NBA and NFL's.

Why? A lot of people will tell you that it is because too many small to mid-market teams are making the playoffs too often like Minnesota and Tampa Bay. If that's the case, then why do we even have teams in these places?

I think that there are a lot more people that are avid followers of baseball than the ratings would indicate. Problem is, when your team is left out on the outside, why should you care about teams you have no interest in when there are a multitude of other options out there to get your sports fix?

The NFL is in full swing, along with college football. I know my interest in baseball went down a lot when the Pittsburgh Penguins and the rest of the NHL began playing this year.

The key is getting more fans and their teams involved. The NHL and NBA have 16 teams make the playoffs, the NFL lets in 12. But why does baseball still have only 8? Letting in a couple extra teams would make more fans watch not only their teams, but other teams in the playoffs to see potential opponents in later rounds.

A lot of the "purists" would cry foul at my idea, but they also did at a lot of ideas that have helped the game tremendously (wild card anyone?) I'm 18 and I've never known baseball without three divisions or a wild card team. Maybe that's why I'm so keen on these changes.

Here are my proposed changes to baseball to make the playoffs more interesting, and more relevant to the casual sports fan.

  • Condense the National and American Leagues from three divisions down to two. (East and West)
  • Increase the number of teams allowed in the playoffs from 4 per league to 6.
  • Shorten the regular season from 162 games to 156 (one week) to make room for the extra round. Since the last week of the season is mostly irrelevant (except for one or two teams) the league would benefit more from meaningful baseball than a bunch of teams playing out the string.
  • Division winners would get a bye from the wild card round, which keeps an importance of a division title and race.
  • Four remaining teams in each league would play in a best of three opening round. Two winners would advance to Division Series. Playoffs would then go as they currently do from there.

So there are my ideas. What do you guys think baseball should do?

Steve Uhlmann is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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