Lately, I have been on a bit of a Netflix kick, re-watching old episodes of “The Office.” Around Season 6, Jim Halpert is promoted to Co-Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin. One of his methods for determining good ideas from bad, is creating lists. Specifically “Pros vs. Cons” lists. As the 2017 Major League Baseball Postseason fast approaches, I have created a “Pros vs. Cons” list of my own. Below, I give you my Top 5 positives and negatives regarding the prequel to the Fall Classic.
- Quality of Play: It is no secret that the best baseball of the year emerges during the postseason. Thirty teams have endured a long and grueling 162-game season in order to get to this point. From Spring Training, the goal for each team is the same. All of the hard work the players have put in comes to fruition in the playoffs on baseball’s grandest stage. You know going into the postseason, that every single game is going to be appointment television.
- Television Coverage: In my opinion, the partnership made years ago between the MLB and TBS to broadcast postseason games has done nothing but benefit both networks. Last year, FS1 put its name in the hat and raised the bar even higher. On any given day, there could be three games broadcast on multiple channels. What the networks have done is spread out the time slots, providing each game the undivided attention it deserves. Games rarely run into each other, which cannot be said throughout the regular season most nights.
- Incredible Performances: Once the calendar flips to September/October, players seem to find another gear. A second wind if you will. Every pitch matters, and pitching is certainly at its best in the postseason. Look as recently as the past two years, San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner has basically become un-hittable. In 2016, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw finally got over the hump. A good bullpen is of utmost importance, and it can honestly make or break your chances at winning.
- The Fans: Regardless of a teams’ up and down ways throughout the regular season, fans pile in to catch of glimpse at history in the playoffs. They hang on every single play, ratcheting the decibel level up to 11 consistently. We have seen that fan bases can actually play a role as well. For instance, Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Queto was visibly shaken in 2013 while pitching at PNC Park. Pittsburgh Pirates fans really let him hear it, and it resulted in Queto literally and figuratively dropping the ball. Fans are loud, boisterous, passionate, and unapologetically opinionated.
- Stories/Drama: Each postseason presents new and exciting story lines from every series. Players shoot off at the mouth following a lackluster performance, etc. Opponents use those comments as fuel going into the next game. Past fracases are brought to the forefront, as we have learned there is no love loss or short term memory in baseball. Wacky story lines like Indians’ Trevor Bauer and his drone come out of nowhere. Inspiring stories like Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber being cleared for the World Series, having played only two regular season games, tug at our heartstrings. There is certainly no lack of drama in the postseason, which provides around the clock entertainment for two straight months.
- Scheduling: Now I know this may sound like a direct contradiction to one of my Pros above, but hear me out. Although every game is broadcast and the proper amount of time is devoted to each game, some of those games take place at a very odd hour. They are played in the middle of the week during the afternoon while people are at work. For many, there is no way to watch.
- Travel: The travel days between locations has seriously gotten out of hand. After playing two games, both teams should be fine and ready to go after one and half days of rest. In no world can I justify giving teams two or three days of rest after traveling. Yes, I understand it is so both leagues receive the same amount of attention and of course ratings come into play. But, c’mon. And we wonder why the World Series has been played around or on Halloween the past two years.
- Wildcard/One-Game Playoff: Before you start disagreeing with me, here is why I chose this as Con. There was nothing wrong with the system put into place years ago before Wildcards were added. Division champions played other Division champions. Then those two divisions played each other, until ultimately the World Series champion was decided between the two leagues over the first two weeks of October. I will be the first to admit that some of these Wildcard Games and One-Game Playoffs have been exciting. Example: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees WC Game - 2015. But I feel like the MLB has taken it too far, giving more teams chances a la children’s sports these days. I realize a 162-game season is unpredictable and you cannot discount the battle taking place in certain divisions. That being said, I say make them earn their keep by finishing the regular season with one of the best records. Otherwise, they can use their failure to make the postseason as motivation for next year.
- Replay: There should be a strict replay rule book written and laminated before the postseason begins. Replay has been severely overused as of late, especially in the playoffs and World Series last year - https://www.talkingchop.com/2016/11/3/13504778/umpiring-replay-stain-great-cubs-indians-world-series.
Certain points in the game should prohibit the use of replay to determine a play’s outcome. At the same time, certain points should absolutely provide managers the opportunity to challenge calls. But I think we can all agree, replay should not be accessible for a full nine innings. That is just asking for a three hour contest. Sure, it can make the games exciting. But it can also take the wind out of a team’s sails in a second and lose viewership.
- You Decide: I struggled to find a fifth and final Con for my list, so I will leave the last addition in your hands as readers. Comment below!
I am fully aware that many of you will disagree with me, and that is perfectly okay. The beauty of sports in general, is that we can come together and have a civilized (Most Times) discussion. We may debate and call each other names. But at the end of the day, we do it because we love the game. Christmas is right around the corner, and baseball is gifting us an early present in the MLB Postseason. The World Series is just the tree topper and puts a bow on a wonderful time of year.