For many years, baseball has been dubbed as the “most boring sport.” Its slow paced games and lack of physical plays is only enjoyable to some. Rob Manfred is not one of these fans. Baseball games are taking, on average, five more minutes to complete. Proposals to change extra inning rules, commercial air-time rules, and warmup rules have all been tossed around to make the game quick and exciting. The common goal: to increase viewership.
In a surprising press conference this afternoon, of which many thought would cover the recent protests during the National Anthem, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred described his blueprints for a new format of playoff baseball. Despite increased viewership this season, Manfred deemed fit to create a postseason similar to the NFL through the use of single elimination games. Say goodbye to Game 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 as the playoffs will be decided by one game. Rob Manfred defended this format.
“A one game series truly determines a champion. In a seven game series, a team can play their aces, play awful in the 3 games, and still win the series. A team is relying on one or two pitchers to win the game for them. That’s why I created a single game playoff…I want to give the Commissioner Trophy to the team that can consistently win as a team.”
Manfred has also increased the number of teams in the playoffs. All MLB teams qualify for the new format.
“I want to give every team a chance, I understand how the divisions are not equal. The Brewers, for example, have a better record than the Minnesota Twins. However, due to inequality in the league the Brewers will be at home this October while the Twins get to fight for a shot at a championship.”
In terms of scheduling, games will be held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Seedings will be decided by record and the tiebreaker will be head to head record. Each league will have its own bracket and the winners will face off in a championship. “I want to create an October Madness” said Manfred to reporters.
One issue many teams have with this new format is the amount of money they will lose. Reducing playoff series by six games takes millions of dollars from organizations. To guarantee the entire MLB does not go bankrupt, teams are frantically selling jersey patches, home run wall spaces, bases, and even outfield grass patterns to advertising agencies to make more money. Who wouldn’t want to see the Lucky Charms leprechaun in the centerfield grass in Cleveland?
With this new playoff format, which will go for a trial run in the 2018 Spring Training season, Manfred hopes to see it by next October. Viewership is projected to plummet during the regular season now that it means nothing, except for seeding. It is in Manfred’s belief, however, that the money lost during the season will be made up in the postseason. Manfred is very confident in his plan, and hopes to see it grow internationally in the next few years. To close out the press conference, Manfred’s final remark was, “One day I want to have a true World Series!”
Manfred did not specify if he wants to eventually use a World Baseball Classic or Little League World Series type format in the future.