Ben over at RAB has an extended piece up about "fixing" the playoffs. He hits the usual talking points: culling a wider selection of regular season games; cutting down on post-season off days; earlier start times for the night games; more day games.
He certainly doesn't say anything I disagree with. As a moderate purist, I think the point of about reeling in the current game/off day/ game/ travel pattern would improve the situation a lot.
But I have another suggestion: don't let the season drag on so long.
This year, Game 7 would have been on Halloween because of the rain delay. Next season, because the World Baseball Classic is back this spring, Game 4 of the 2009 World Series is scheduled for November 1st.
This is ridiculous. I'm hoping for Cubs-Yankees because it would punish Bud Selig even more. 2008 saw the first Series game ever suspended for rain, 2009 could see the first suspended by snow. Imagine the media indignation over the marquee match-up being spoiled by a couple weather delays and sloppy play born of the inability to grip a baseball or swing a bat.
So let's fix this thing. 150 games. 50 series, roughly 25 in division, 25 out of division. That shortens the season by two weeks (12 games and 2 off-days).
The players will come to the post-season fresher. Hopefully this means fewer exhausted relievers, fewer dings and bruises on the sluggers, stronger starters.
The players will play the game in baseball weather, not football weather. Unlike 2007, we won't be watching for snow flurries. Remember that Opening Day Andy Pettitte pitched in the snow? (He may have done this more than once; in my old age I'm losing track). In April, snow is funny. In October, snow or conditions like the rain and mud that Game 5 of the 2008 Series began in become abominations. Weather is part of the game, but in the spirit of working smarter not harder, MLB should make sure the season is over before the really nasty winter weather sets in.
Finally, the reason this makes sense is it gives Selig the space to expand the first round to a seven game series. Play 12 fewer games that only the die-hards were watching, and gain two more games in front of a national audience. More importantly, give the best team a better chance to advance to LCS.
I know that this, like so much else I would like to see change in the game, will never happen. The owners will never give up the revenue, the union will never give up the chance to get more players in the game. Hell, shortening the schedule would probably require re-negotiating all of MLB's current tv and radio broadcasting agreements. That alone is reason enough this is just another crazy jscape pipe-dream.
But with nothing but winter between today and April, pipe-dreams are all I've got.