Monday, September 5, 2016

EXTRA: Would the baseball season be better off if it were over already?

As much as I’m a baseball fan who enjoys every detail of the game, a part of me wishes the regular season proper of 2016 were over and done with.

When his sandwich is the highlight of  '16
And not just because the Chicago White Sox will be very lucky if they can finish the season the end of September with a .500 winning percentage, or because I’m going to find it annoying to put up with another month of Chicago Cubs speculation about whether they can actually win something of significance this year.

THERE IS A part of me that wonders if Major League Baseball, with its 162-game season, three rounds of playoffs and a World Series that stands a chance of not declaring a champion until early November has just become way too long.

I wonder at times if perhaps the entity known as Minor League Baseball is on to something – what with the way that minor league seasons come to an end on Labor Day.

For fans of the minor league game, it’s all over. Yes, the various leagues do have their own playoffs to determine a league champion. But those rounds are usually played as quickly as possible, because major league teams would rather have any serious prospects called up to the big ball club – rather than trying to win a championship for a place like Peoria or South Bend, Ind.?

The fact is that major league teams this year have already played about 135 ball games through Sunday. If the American and National leagues were a bit more aggressive about their scheduling, they could easily have played some 140 games.

WHICH IS SUFFICIENT enough to achieve legitimate champions – Toronto, Cleveland and Texas in the American League, with Boston and Detroit getting the wild card slots.

And in the National League, we’d have Washington, Los Angeles and the Cubs, along with St. Louis and New York. Let’s be honest – those teams are likely going to be the ones come early October that will wind up qualifying for the playoffs.

How many people really want to see another month of games being played just for the purpose of allowing the other 20 ball clubs to have a chance to sell some more hot dogs and beer (and at the soon-to-be Guaranteed Rate Field a Cuban sandwich named for the late pelotero Minnie Miñoso) and perhaps another souvenir cap?
Only wishful thinking. Or will Cubs soon get cap w/ Series logo?

The baseball fan in me would just as soon see the playoffs begin in coming days. I suspect many other fans feel the same way.

CONSIDERING THAT THE playoffs for baseball have evolved into a play-in round involving second place teams, then two more rounds before a league champion is declared, that could easily take up the bulk of the remainder of the month of September.

Which would put the World Series – that historic championship between the two league champions – on the calendar some time around the first week to 10 days of October.

Which back in the old days when there were only eight teams in each league and only the top two teams played beyond the regular season’s end, was when the World Series historically was played.

Reaching a champion some time around October 5 rather than November 2 or 3 makes a lot more sense.

I REALLY SUSPECT that serious baseball fans would accept such a change, particularly if it meant we could be watching games of significance – rather than watching the New York Yankees or some other team go through the motions of pretending they’re still in contention for a playoff spot.

Because if they really were in the running, they’d be better than a fourth place team now. And as for the fourth-place White Sox, the hard-core of fandom is ready to move on to 2017.


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