Major League Baseball’s playoff expansion is a win-win-win

You will be seeing a lot more of this symbol

                Major League Baseball managed to accomplish something that the National Basketball Association and National Football League could not. A new Contract Bargaining Agreement (CBA) before the previous one expired. This new CBA includes major additions to the game of baseball. Some of these changes include Human GrowthHormone (HGH) testing, moves the Houston Astros from the National LeagueCentral to the American League West, and expands the playoff format. Both (in my opinion) are huge pluses for the game of baseball. The HGH testing is a direct result of the “Steroid Era” in baseball and is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game. The expanded playoff format provides more excitement for the League’s fan base and will increase the chances of the 30 MLB teams to make it to the World Series. I’ll explain after the jump. 

                The Seattle Mariners (M’s) are the most frustrating team to watch and follow in the MLB. Their first .500 season was in 1991, this was shortly followed by theirfirst playoff appearance in 1995 (18 years after the club was founded).  After 1995 the Mariners would appear in the playoffs in 1997, 2000 and 2001 (they also had a shot at the Playoffs in 2003and 2007 but were out of the Wild Card[1]race).  I vividly remember a four game series against the Angles in early August, 2007, the M’s were four games out behind the Angles in the American League West. Mariner’s advertising had run an aggressive advertising campaign the entire week leading up to the series.
                Safeco Field was packed. The crowd was electric and ready for the Mariners first playoff appearance in 6 years, which with a series win would have been ridiculously close. Every pitch, every swing of the bat, every play, the crowd was on the edge of their seats. The Mariners got stomped that game. The Angles would go on to sweep (win all the games) the Mariners in that four game set; the M’s season was for all intents and purposes over. It was clear by that point in the season that whoever finished second in the A.L East was going to win the Wild Card again. Safeco Field has been the baseball equivalent of a black hole ever since. 
                I use the story of the 2007 Mariners season to illustrate my point about more excitement in the fan base because I remember it is the season (the series) that I remember most vividly. The 2003 squad suffered a similar fate, shoved out of the Wild Card picture by the A.L East; unlike the 2007 Mariners, the 2003 Mariners have finished second in the A.L Wild Card and would have qualified for the playoffs under the new MLB Playoff Format[2].
The Astros will be flying, a lot, next year
                The expanded playoff format (which will start no later than 2013) adds a Wild Card round to the post season, pitching the top two Wild Card teams, in each league, against each other in a one game (win and in) playoff game. To balance out the leagues and to make the new format a little fairer, the Huston Astros will be moving from the National League Central to the American League West (both divisions were previously at six and four teams respectively, now both will have five). This move is fantastic; it will keep teams in for contention longer, which (should) increase fan interest AND attendance across the league, which means more revenue for the owners in the league. The best part about this is that by adding an extra playoff team you are giving 25 more Major League Baseball Players a chance to make it to the World Series. A win-win-win for all involved.
Those involved and how they benefit:
1)      The fans: Where all pro-sports leagues earn their revenue (whether they earn their revenue through butts in seats or through eye balls watching TV’s). Ever since that August in 2007 the Mariners have always quickly fall out of contention (they tease their fans in May and June but it’s just that, a tease). The fans benefit from the expanded playoff format because it will increase their pride in their team. Their pride in their city. The playoffs will be a moment fans remember for the rest of their lives, a moment of nostalgia. Or if their team barely misses out on the playoffs, a moment of “what if…..”, a moment of second guessing. It will give fans new things to talk about during the off season.
2)      The Owners: The fans renewed interest in their team benefits the owners because the fans will buy tickets, they will watch TV (making the ridiculously large TV Deals worth it). And if they get into the playoffs? They earn revenue off of the fans who buy the playoff gear and who buy tickets.
3)      The Players: All of the sudden you are adding 50 new players to the mix; that is 25 players per playoff roster times 20 teams (10 in each league now) in the playoffs equals and you end up with a grand total of 500 Major League Baseball players who are in the hunt for a World Championship. All the team has to do is get into the playoffs, once in the playoffs? Anyone (any team) has a chance.
4)      The City: How a cities sports team does can affect the morale of its citizens. If the team is doing well and contending for the playoffs the morale of its citizens and add a good buzz to the city. If the team is doing badly….it does not bare much contemplation. When the post season hits, the fans of the opposing team generally travel in good numbers. You also see fans of the home team who live way out in the boonies, therefore they almost never come to games, coming into the city to watch their team play. That means extra revenue for the businesses, which in turn means extra tax revenue for the city. The city also gets promoted positively during the playoffs, which means it may end up on more people’s “places to visit” list.

 Editors Note: Shortly after this post was published it was announced that the extra Wild Card spots would kick in for the 2012 post season and that the Astro’s move over to the AL West will happen before the 2013

Bud Selig (Center) and Co. announce the knew CBA

[1]The Wild Card team is a team who has the best record other then the division champs, they earn a playoff berth
[2]The 2007 Mariners went 88-75, they finished half a game behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L Wild Card (the Tigers finished second in the Wild Card)

Categories: MLB