Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why The New MLB Playoff Format Is Bad For Baseball

The new MLB playoff format has caused excitement for baseball fans. There are more teams with an opportunity to get into the post season and play for a World Series title. The Dodgers are relevant once again, the Oakland A's have proved moneyball can win, and the Baltimore Orioles are an example of hard work and patience paying off. But what happens when the playoffs really start?

In a one game playoff anything is possible. An ace pitcher might feel tightness in his shoulder. A clean up hitter might pull a hamstring or get hit by a pitch. Some no name shortstop batting .231 might have the game of his career. It could rain and postpone play for a day. There are so many variables that go into a one game winner take all format. The best team doesn't always win and flukish performances can carry you a long way.

By design baseball is set up to cater to big market teams. If the Yankees, Dodgers, or Giants lose in a one game playoff the economic ramifications will be disastrous. Viewership will decline for the rest of the post season by 30 or 40 percent and fans won't care who wins or loses. It's been proven many times over that only a select few teams in baseball draw millions of viewers. Unlike the Super Bowl it matters who is playing for the title and tradition doesn't help advertising revenue.

The decision to add one more playoff team was short sighted. Certainly more fans will come out to the ballpark during the pennant races and that's a good thing for baseball. On the other hand it's a calculated risk that could potentially backfire. Surprises aren't always a good thing and there's more at stake than the outcome of one game. All it takes is one missed call or a careless error for things to go completely awry. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. Who do you guys want to see in the World Series?

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