The annual MLB playoff format debate that Rob Manfred ignites every time he opens his mouth this time in October has returned. Like grocery stores pumping PSL into every item imaginable, and the farce that is apple cider doughnuts*, the topic sounds appetizing, yet when the effluvium hits your nostrils, all you can do is double over, and reach for the nearest water.
Kyle Schwarber did something that’s only been done 11 other times in MLB history | Stats That Will Blow Your Mind
(*THEY’RE JUST CINNAMON DOUGHNUTS THAT YOU BYPASS THE OTHER 10 MONTHS OF THE YEAR.)
Seeing as my palate has already been sullied with the gaseous ketchup, and onion fume, it’s only fair that you get a huff as well, so here’s a whiff of what Manfred had to say.
“It’s only Year 2,” Manfred belched Thursday night. “I’m sort of the view you need to give something a chance to work out. I know some of the higher-seeded teams didn’t win. I think if you think about where some of those teams were, there are other explanations than a five-day layoff. But I think we’ll reevaluate in the offseason like we always do and think about if we have the format right.”
Gross, huh? For some quick context, since MLB expanded to 12 seeds last season, six of the seven franchises to win 100 or more games didn’t advance a round. Only last year’s Astros avoided the one-and-done fate as the Mets, Orioles, Braves, and Dodgers failed to win a series — the latter two clubs completing the meltdown in consecutive postseasons.
Only one of those eight entrants forced a deciding game (Mets!), and grumpy baseball managers are grumbling. Baltimore Oriole manager Brandon Hyde is one such skipper, taking issue with the lull for teams that earned a bye, and Dodger skipper Dave Roberts noted its effect, as well.
I have the same issue with Manfred as everyone else: He’s always unsure of himself yet oddly confident at the same time. MLB is straddling the fence between embracing the 12-team format, and trying to appease whoever thinks it’s a good idea to go 3-5-7-7 from the Wild Card round to the World Series. Four clubs from each league was perfect, because teams have to be great to excellent all year to get there.
It was a reward for the regular season, so if MLB is going to water down that prize, at least give the best clubs a full seven games to take advantage of their depth. This truncated, noncommittal BS — mixed with the pitch clock — made the first two rounds fly by with zero drama. (Who could’ve predicted that?)
We’ve played eight series thus far, six were sweeps, and no team forced a rubber match. In addition to Dodgers and Orioles fans, Brewer, Blue Jay, Ray, and Marlin supporters deserved more than an amuse-bouche of postseason baseball.
Every format has flaws, yet we need seven games, because it’s enough to exercise a bullpen. Force the teams without a bye to risk hobbling into the divisional series, keep the regular season schedule of one to two nights off per week, start round two the day after each round-one team advances, and make managers manage.
If a long layoff takes place between the divisional and championship series, that’s fine. Every club should be lathered up by then, and no one wants to hear about superstitions or excuses four wins shy of a World Series. While 190 potential games feel excessive — and my guess is the MLBPA would agree — baseball’s defining quality has always been which team can stave off attrition the longest.
Rob Manfred is the token people-pleaser who makes all parties unhappy by trying to appease everybody. Dude, just pick a restaurant; there are only four choices on the offramp sign. … CRACKER BARREL?! WHY DID YOU THINK THAT WOULD EVEN BE AN OPTION?!
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