Tuesday, October 26, 2010

6 comments Bill Plaschke Has a Plan To Ruin Baseball's Postseason

Sorry there was no MMQB yesterday. I had written 3/4 of the post and then Firefox decided it wanted to crash and erased all suggestions that I had just written a lengthy post. I didn't have the energy to go back and re-write the whole thing. I can sum it up pretty easily. Peter King loves Brett Favre and will never fail to mention that Favre is injured as a built-in excuse for him.

Whenever I need a good idea, I look to Bill Plaschke to provide that great idea. Fortunately, he has written another guidebook for me to base my life upon. This time Bill is writing one sentence paragraphs about how baseball's postseason needs improvement. The only thing really wrong with this suggestions to improve MLB's postseason is that 4 of the 5 suggestions suck. Other than that, bang-up job by Plaschke.

I do have to note, in the world of Bill Plaschke writing a column with 1 out of 5 of anything being correct or a good idea is a big win for him. So this could go down as a great article on a "Plaschke Curve."

It has been, as usual, a magical autumn filled with play fakes and head fakes, trick formations and trap blocks, sneaks and sleights and gadgets and gimmicks.

What? I thought we were talking about baseball and now Plaschke starts off talking about football...or his sex life. I will assume it is football. Whatever could he be up to here? I must read more, this first sentence has grabbed my attention and has caused me to wonder what follows, besides one sentence paragraphs of course.

Yet, as usual, nothing has disappeared faster than major league baseball.

Here is the typical, "I am not paying attention to the playoffs because it doesn't hold my interest so I will assume this is the same for everyone" article. Some people don't like baseball. These people won't pay attention to the postseason no matter how hard anyone tries to convince them to. Some people don't pay attention because they are bitter their team didn't make it, so they won't care about the playoffs. It's just a fact. It doesn't mean there is anything to "fix."

One moment there was a wonderfully noisy pennant race. The next moment it was so quiet you could hear a rating point drop.

Plaschke may have the only known case of "West Coast Bias" where he thinks no one cares about the postseason because the Dodgers and Angels aren't in it. San Francisco doesn't count in his mind as a West Coast team apparently.

One moment, we were marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon.

A "heartening end of a timeless marathon" that Plaschke wants to completely change. Just stay tuned, not that you would quit reading. I know Plaschke's introductory sentence grabbed your attention as well.

The next moment, we were yawning over the silly steps of a manufactured sprint.

All playoff series in every sport could be categorized as a manufactured sprint. I don't believe this to be exclusive to baseball.

One moment, the country cared. The next moment, much of it didn't, and why should it?

The Dodgers and Angels aren't in the playoffs. Who cares what goes on now?

I also highly doubt the ratings for typical baseball games during the regular season are lower than the ratings for the playoff games. So the country does actually care more now.

I am writing this column on a classic fall Thursday in the middle of a dramatically crisp October afternoon, yet there is not even a hint of baseball's Fall Classic or dramatic October.

I have an idea to improve sports journalism.

Step 1. Don't let Bill Plaschke write columns.
Step 2. Repeat step one.

There was no baseball played on Thursday. There was no baseball played on Wednesday.

Most of the LDS series ended before five games were played. There have to be days where teams can travel and get ready for the next series. This happens at some point in the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, and NEARLY AN ENTIRE WEEK goes by in the NFL playoffs before another game is played. As much fun as it is to have every day filled with baseball, it just isn't realistic between series.

Later in this column, Bill Plaschke will follow up his own complaint about baseball not being on everyday with an idea to have the MLB playoffs take two consecutive days off every single week.

All four remaining teams, in fact, won't be in action together until Saturday,

Why do the teams have to be in action together? The Yankees-Rangers series started Friday evening and continued the very next day, when the Phillies-Giants series started. The teams don't have to be in action together, it actually makes some sense to break the games up. Plaschke is the one complaining there are days without baseball, yet he wants both series to always be played on the same day, which would leave there to be days without baseball while the teams are traveling.

Baseball's postseason rests when it should play, and plays when it should rest, and behaves so differently from the regular season that it's almost not baseball at all.

I have no idea what this means or how playoff baseball is so very different from regular season baseball. I am sure Plaschke will attempt to enlighten me though.

Baseball's postseason is too long on the calendar,

So much for "marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon."

not long enough on the field,

I'm assuming Bill Plaschke isn't mentally handicapped until I get more evidence to the contrary, but it is semi-contradictory to want less baseball played and then want more baseball played.

Unless he wants the games to be longer...which would not make sense at all...

too late on the clock,

...or maybe not. So there needs to be less baseball in the regular season, more baseball in the postseason and earlier games? This will fix baseball's postseason?

Here are five things that must change about postseason baseball, one for every skinny middle infielder who will soon show up on your TV screen wearing a ridiculous ski cap and gloves.

The count of players in a ridiculous ski cap and gloves so far: Zero.

Stretch the first round

I agree. The LDS (or "first round" as Plaschke so expertly calls it) should be 7 games long. It's a long season and 7 games should be played in the LDS. I agree with this.

You know what, I will still argue against Plaschke's reasoning for this change, even though I agree with it, because I am a relentless asshole.

The Cincinnati Reds were one of baseball's best stories for six months, yet they were eliminated in 9 hours and 13 minutes. The Minnesota Twins were the one of the pulses of the long baseball summer, yet they were knocked out in a heartbeat.

In the NFL, a team plays from September to late December/early January, can lead their division and then get knocked out in 3 hours. That's not unfair. It's why they call it the playoffs and it part of what makes it so exciting.

Overall, I do agree though. The LDS should be 7 games.

Shorten the regular season

This could save the postseason like cutting off an infected toe could save a leg.

I disagree with this logic. A shorter regular season would not make the postseason any more exciting nor would it cause fans to have more interest in the MLB playoffs. It would just be a shorter season.

Cut the regular season back to 154 games, and don't look so shocked, because history confirms it works.

Decreasing the season by 8 games is part of the cure-all for MLB's playoff woes? I don't believe this is true. It would just shorten the end of the World Series, which I believe wouldn't make the playoffs more attractive to viewers.

So some regular-season statistics would need an asterisk. Like they don't need one already? The stats that steroids didn't kill will survive. Hey, to break baseball's most venerable remaining record, you only need 57 games, right?

Naturally, he's talking about David Eckstein's streak of "doing the gritty things during a game to play the game of baseball the right way."

So owners lose a few home dates? They will gain the money back in a better postseason television deal for a World Series that ends under the pleasant skies of mid-October.

I've always been a little confused by the myth that baseball is losing interest in the playoffs because the World Series ends so late. I know of no person that has said, "fuck this. I only like watching baseball during the month of October. I am done watching baseball on television during the playoffs forever."

What else is interesting is that Plaschke wants to cut 8 games from the schedule, but increase the LDS by two games. Including the gap between games MLB puts in there, with another idea Plaschke will introduce in a minute, along with the idea MLB isn't going to reduce the time between when each series begins and ends from where it is now, and I am not sure much closer to the middle of October the World Series would really end under Plaschke's evil plan.

Last year on Nov. 4 in Philadelphia — the date and possible place of this year's World Series Game 7 — the temperature dipped to 37 degrees. Play ball!

Where is it stated that baseball can not be played in cold weather? I actually have found childhood memories of watching baseball when it is cold out. It seems Bill Plaschke is located in California and thinks 37 degrees is extremely cold.

Take the weekends off

This should be the perfect fix for everyone who wants to watch baseball. Take away the only days during the week most people have off work, can stay up later or can watch sports all day. Brilliant!

While baseball has been snoozing on its increasingly outdated bed of tradition, football has become this country's national pastime. So stop fighting the NFL, stop competing with everybody's alma mater, and learn to make a new niche.

I'm not old, but I can't finish some of the postseason games that start during the week. I have to be at work the next day. If it isn't my favorite team, or a really exciting game, I go to bed and catch up with what happened the next day. That is except for Saturday and Sunday. I stay up and watch all the playoffs games AND (get this) I flip the channel around to the football games I want to watch WHILE I am watching playoff baseball.

So in essence, I watch every game I want to watch and or record one game and watch another. I am pretty sure most Americans own the technology to flip between two games or record one game. Simply put, MLB does have a niche and they shouldn't have to run away from college football and the NFL to have their niche. If playoff games were only on during the week, I would think interest in baseball would actually decrease. Not to sound like a couch potato, but there are also television shows people will want to watch during the week. So baseball would be competing with popular television shows during the week. Of course they compete with these shows now, but playoff games are also on the weekends and not exclusively on the weekdays.

Schedule all postseason games on Monday through Friday, with Monday being a day game because of "Monday Night Football."

Ridiculous. I know Bill Plaschke works in a sports-related field, but if a playoff game took place during the day on every Monday then that would decrease the number of people who could watch the game. Some people have jobs that don't involve a television in front of them.

No days off during this time.

So the playoffs would take 2 days off every week AND extend the LDS by two games...and still the World Series will end in mid-October? Maybe it could happen, but I somewhat doubt it.

I would also love to know how the Giants and Phillies are supposed to play a 8pm game in San Francisco and then travel to Philadelphia for a 8pm game the next day? It's nearly impossible for teams to travel and play everyday in the playoffs.

Make it replicate the regular season, something that doesn't happen now.

During the regular season, most teams have either a Monday or a Thursday off. So by having teams play only during the week and not getting a day off, MLB would have a schedule that is nearly the opposite of what the regular season schedule looks like. So Bill is thinking of an idea that would behave unlike the regular season, which is what he just complained the current playoff setup does.

This year's division series ratings were down 9.4%, so how much help could the weekends be?

I just know that's when I am able to watch every single game and know this is the same for many of my friends.

Play more day games

It's weird, because this column seems more like 5 ideas to ensure playoff ratings drop. What Bill wants to do is essentially alienate both West Coast AND East Coast viewers as much as possible. I hate the idea of day playoff games. Hate it. A lot. I want to watch the actual games and don't want to follow them online at work. More day games means I get to watch fewer games and means I am more likely to tune out to playoff baseball.

Everyone wants them, but nobody has the courage to actually schedule them.

Nobody wants them, which is why they aren't scheduled.

The benefits won't be clearly visible immediately, but without their intermittent charm, the postseason becomes a collection of long and late and yawn.

Logically, to understand and enjoy the charm of postseason baseball, a person would have to like to watch postseason baseball. People who like to watch postseason baseball are probably going to watch the playoffs under the current format. No one is going to tune into a day baseball game for the sole reason it's just so fucking charming to see. No one will do this. Charm is overrated and putting the games on when the public can watch the game is underrated.

Baseball spent about two days this fall bragging about a 2011 World Series schedule that includes one special game with the earliest start in 24 years.

The first pitch will be — woo hoo! — 6:57 p.m. Eastern. Are you kidding me?

Let's say there is a game that starts at 1:00pm EST. For it to be a true day game, that's when it will have to start because it gets dark earlier in late September/early October. This game would essentially be on television when no person who works full time from 8:00am-5:00pm on the East Coast or West Coast could watch it. I do not believe playoff games earlier in the day will cause viewership of these games to increase.

Enough of the champagne

Yes, part of the problem with MLB playoff ratings is that the teams celebrate with champagne. Viewers are immediately turned off by this and will refuse to watch another game of baseball.

(rolls eyes like a teenager would)

But they do not deserve to celebrate like New Year's Eve nuts just three wins later. And then again just four wins after that. The excessive partying in earlier rounds devalues the perception of the World Series, which is what all of these changes are designed to fix.

It's good to see Plaschke saved the most moronic reason for last. Is there really a person who feels the World Series is devalued by teams celebrating a divisional or wild card clinching win? I don't believe viewers are so stupid as to see a team partying after winning the LDS and then thinks that means the World Series isn't as important.

Well, that's all for now. Gotta run. It's a fall Thursday night and I'm sure there's a football game on somewhere.

Here's the deal. Baseball should not run from football. Those people who like baseball will watch the baseball game and those who want to watch a football game will watch the football game. Or they will use a remote control to flip back and forth. The NFL is more popular than baseball when they go head-to-head. That's a fact now and changing the schedule around to avoid NFL/college football games so that fewer baseball fans may be able to catch the game and essentially making the MLB playoffs an afterthought for sports fans will eventually do just that. Plaschke's list is a fail.


Matt said...

wow, what an idiot Bill P is.

maybe all non-football sports should be cancelled. basketball? hockey? shut down or move your damn sports to the summer so you don't have to compete for ratings with the allmighty NFL and NCAA football.

now, if you don't mind, i'm going to take a champagne bath.

rich said...

I just don't understand how you can say baseball is too long, but only take away 8 games. 162 games is unbearable, but 154 is perfect? honestly you've removed 1/20 of the season, whatever.

This idea is incredibly stupid for a variety of reasons: 1. money. Players would have to take paycuts as owners lose 8 games of revenue. 2. Money: networks would lose money not being able to broadcast the 8 games (at least one would be on Fox and ESPN). 3. Money: Less games means less concession prices. Meaning ticket prices go up (supply down, demand constant) and concession prices will go up.

Furthermore, what's the real big deal with 162 games? Sure, it's a long ass season, but isn't that the point? It starts in the spring and ends in the fall? Like am I missing the point that the baseball season is supposed to be long? I also thought the last week was pretty friggin' exciting. After 154 games there would have been zero doubt that Atlanta and SD were in; SF wouldn't have made the playoffs in Plaschke land (I guess I should like it more then... fuck you Ryan Howard).

If you can only handle 154 games, only watch 154 games. No one is forcing you to keep track of all of the games.

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, these were some pretty bad ideas. He must really think there can be no competition against NFL/college football. All sports should take place in the summer or in the winter when football isn't taking place.

Don't waste that champagne! It demeans the value of alcohol to bathe in it for no reason!

Rich, I don't think Plaschke had a reason to take away 8 games. What's funny is that he wants longer LDS series, so it actually makes the season nearly as long as it is now.

It's much like how the NFL doesn't want to just shorten the preseason and keep the season at 16 games...there would be a loss of revenue that couldn't be replaced w/o raising prices.

I don't see the big deal either. 162 or 154 games is a long season and there is usually a pretty exciting divisional or wild card race at the end of the year. I don't see what taking away 8 games will do. The season is supposed to be long and many fans enjoy it.

About Howard, he can't take that pitch from Wilson. I am disappointed he didn't swing. That's a tough pitch to take in that situation for a strikeout.

HH said...

One moment, we were marveling at the heartening end of a timeless marathon.

The next moment, we were yawning over the silly steps of a manufactured sprint.

I actually have to sort of agree with this. Not that it's a manufactured spring - sports rules are arbitrary, so in a sense they're always manufactured. It's more the idea that regular season baseball tests different qualities in a team than does playoff baseball. For example, given the off-days, a deep pitching staff, both starters and pen, matters little. You can get by with your stud arms and instead load up on platoon hitters for every situation. Similarly, the playoffs obviously don't test organizational depth.

I don't really have a problem with this, but I can see how someone who enjoys the "marathon" aspect of baseball would think that the playoffs are stupid.

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

i like the way you describe plaschke - he iss truly the only writer i can think of with a legit west coast bias. he's not a legit national analyst, he;s just a beat writer that gets airtime on espn. normally i hate all the east coast bias spewed by espn but fools like plaschke that make us out here on the west coast look stupid.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, you are right about that. I just don't think the baseball playoffs are that much more manufactured than other sports. It does make a difference that really the #5 pitchers don't get tested at all and the players have more days off so the depth of a team isn't tested either. I think every sport has the playoffs manufactured, but it is more obvious in baseball due to the pitching rotation not being as deeply used.

Part of me does wish the MLB playoffs tested the depth of a team more.

Arjun, I think Plaschke does have a bit of a West Coast bias. It will never be as bad as the East Coast bias that is seen. His beat is the West Coast so that is what he talks about the most. I agree with you that I don't see him as a national writer really. He's more of a local writer who appears on ESPN. Even his columns aren't on a national level really.

I don't think anyone believes Plaschke represents the writing that comes out of the West Coast.