The MLB’s ridiculous proposal

Most of the new rule changes aren’t terrible; the new proposal is

Noah Epstein, Contributing Writer

The baseball season is arriving, and what a crazy offseason it’s been. From free agent superstars Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon signing with new teams to the discovery and investigation of the Astros cheating scandal, this has certainly been one of the wildest offseasons in Major League Baseball history.

Something else occurred this past week that added to the madness. The MLB released a proposal for a new format for the playoffs. The proposal includes increasing the total number of playoff teams from 10 to 14, meaning there would be two more wild-card teams in both the American League and the National League. This would result in three division winners and four wild-card teams from each league playing in October.

MLB Commisioner Rob Manfred supports the MLB’s new rule proposal.

The proposal also states that the first seed in each league would get a first-round bye in the “Wild Card Round,” and the two other division winners would get to pick which wild-card team they play in the round. The selection of the teams picking who they want to play would be nationally televised, in the form of a reality TV show.

This proposal is nothing short of preposterous.

The current playoff format works completely fine, even after the addition of a second wild-card team to each league in 2012. Why this proposal was even thought of as an idea by anyone, including Commissioner Rob Manfred, is beyond me. All this will do is add teams to the playoffs that don’t deserve to get in.

In 2019, for example, the two American League wild-card teams were the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, with 97 and 96 wins, respectively. Both teams were clearly deserving of a playoff spot, and they both had a chance to make it to the Divisional Round by facing off in a one-game playoff. Under this new proposal, the 93-win Indians and the 84-win Red Sox would make it as well. There is no world in which an 84-win team should make the playoffs unless they win their division.

The goal of making the playoffs in baseball is simple: win your division or be better than every other team that didn’t win theirs. This new proposal is completely redefining that objective, as an average team would be able to walk into the playoffs.

The divisional leaders being able to choose which team they play, and the league making it reality TV, is unbelievable. Teams don’t fight their tails off and grind for 162 games in a season just to select or be selected by a team to play in a series. It’s an absolute joke of an idea, and I know exactly why they’re thinking of this.

As age and viewership have had a direct relationship when it comes to baseball, Manfred and the MLB have been trying to make changes to increase interest among the new generation, whether it’s trying to speed up the pace of play or creating promotions to relate to millennials. Rule changes were made last year that shortened breaks in between innings, changed up the All-Star Game voting for fans and lessened the amount of mound visits for each game. A rule change that has more of an impact on the game was that pitchers now have to face a minimum of three batters, even relievers.

All these rule changes address the issue of how baseball is viewed as “too long” or perhaps “boring” for many people in the country, so this is the route the MLB took. And although I may disagree with some of the rule changes, they’re not terrible. This new playoff proposal is. Putting a show on TV to determine which team plays does not only make a mockery of the postseason, but also takes out so many of the exciting playoff scenarios we see in today’s game.

Currently, it is expected that the New York Yankees and Houston Astros will win their divisions and have the two best records in the American League. Therefore, one of those teams will play the winner of the wild-card game and the other will play the third division winner. Toward the end of the regular season, there are always scenarios for what teams would play each other, which makes it exciting and entertaining to watch. With the new proposal, there would be no fun scenarios because the division leaders would just get to choose who they play. As for the show aspect, it would get a ton of viewers, so the MLB would make money off of it, but it’s just not real baseball.

Players are also outraged by this proposal. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted his reaction almost immediately after it was announced. “Rob Manfred. Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”

Bauer also posted a video, riddled with profanity, of himself ranting about Manfred and the MLB because of the proposal. That’s how fired up he is about this topic. Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorious also tweeted in response to the proposal, “Why are we changing this loveable sport so much.”

Clearly the players aren’t for this change, and they shouldn’t be. It’s a way for the MLB to make more money and include more teams in the pennant race, even if they’re not deserving. This proposal has a long way to go until it’s a possibility, but hopefully that will never happen. If all goes well, the players’ union won’t hesitate to disagree with the proposal in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, so the playoff format can stay the same and not change baseball for the worse. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.