Is bigger better?
Almost daily I join many folks who watch a YouTube program called “Good Mythical Morning.”
It is hosted by two best friends from North Carolina (Rhett and Link) who are now in Los Angeles. They’re funny and have a number of innovative gags, many involving food.
One of those involves having their chef trying to create “fancified” versions of fast food favorites. On one episode, they spent $208 trying to create a better Chick-fil-A sandwich, but had to admit it wasn’t as good as the real thing.
Yes, sometimes no matter how hard you try you can’t make something better.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took on the role of chef this week, releasing to the public some proposals to change the playoff format for the 2022 season.
The new proposal would add two more teams to the playoff picture and introduce some gimmicks that some believe would stir interest in a game that milennials don’t have time for anymore.
In a nutshell, here is what is proposed for each league:
• Three division champions and four wildcard teams make the playoffs.
• The division champion with the best overall record gets a first-round bye.
• The other two division champs would pick, starting with the one with the second-best record, the wildcard opponent they want to face and host all games in a best-of-three series.
• The two wildcard teams that aren’t picked also play each other in a best-of-three series.
• The three winners advance to the best-of-five divisional series to join the division champ with the best record.
• To create drama, a Sunday Selection Show will be held for the two division winners to pick their wildcard opponents.
Proponents says getting more teams involved in the playoffs keeps more fans engaged. They believe having more playoff spots available will prevent teams (the Orioles, for one) from tanking once they are out of the race.
And a Selection Show will create both an NCAA basketball type of atmosphere, plus some reality TV-like drama. When one team gets selected by another, it will be seen as a sign of disrespect.
Several experts, like ESPN’s Buster Olney, are on board with the changes. Olney believes it gives small market teams a better chance to make the postseason. It’s simple math: 7 > 5.
While that may be, we all know what this is about — money.
Extra playoff rounds means more television income for a sport that sees sagging attendance numbers.
And if it comes to going against many of the things you’ve proclaimed for years, then so be it where dollars are concerned.
Baseball has preached about the importance of its 162-game regular season and how leagues like the NBA and NHL have cheapened the playoffs by taking too many teams. By putting 14 of its 30 teams in the playoffs, baseball will bring its numbers close to those of the NBA (16 of 30) and the NHL (16 of 31).
And some of those teams that make the playoffs will be flirting with losing records. For example in 2017, two American League teams would have made it under the new format with 80-82 records. Teams with losing records during the regular season don’t deserve to have a chance to win the World Series.
And if you want reality TV drama, there’s plenty of it already out there. Give “Curse of Oak Island” a shot.
If Manfred really wants to improve something, take the current winner-take-all game for two wildcard teams and make it best-of-three. That’s a little more fair (though less drama).
Any changes must be approved in a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. The current agreement expires after this season.
If Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer, who called Manfred a “joke” for the proposal, is any indication, it doesn’t sound very popular with the players.
But those players’ scruples often bend when their paychecks are affected.
So is this change a recipe for success that will make baseball America’s Pastime again?
Bigger isn’t always better, but pass the waffle fries and we’ll see.