12-8-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
More playoff spots, equals more opportunity for teams that can’t compete regularly right? I mean it makes total sense to most of us that this is how it would play out and selfishly as Pirates fans, might just add up to some opportunities that wouldn’t have been there.
Again, it makes sense, but maybe that’s because we aren’t seeing it with the jaded glasses both sides of this bargaining issue will.
On the surface, the owners can feel they’re giving more teams an opportunity to be in the race late into August and September, they bring in a lot more money and of course give the players some too, even if nowhere near what the players deem fair.
Players want paid for the extra work at a higher percentage than what was originally proposed and have concerns about an already exhaustingly long season getting even longer.
First, the proposal has been a 14-team playoff field with the top team in each league getting a bye and the number 2 seed being able to choose their opponent, which is gross.
Now there are some unspoken things here that I ultimately think will cause problems.
First, having more teams get a crack might be an issue for the players. Stick with me here because I’m aware that sentence doesn’t make much sense (sans those jaded glasses). More teams getting a crack could mean less teams feeling the need to try to spend to their ability in an effort to win when realistically .500 could get them in the dance most years. I mean on the surface we assume this is an easy sell because of course more players want a chance to win it all right?
OK, I said you have to be jaded didn’t I?
Well, MLB will counter that thought by saying those first round byes would incentivize spending to try to get it. They feel that’s such an advantage that teams would be climbing over each other trying to make sure they reach it.
Somewhere in between the truth lies, although I’ll be honest, I think the players are probably more correct here. I think we’d see 4-6 teams go after that bye and most of the rest just shoot to get in. Short series lead to randomness to begin with so it might not be advantageous to spend big, finish third and fight the same fight as someone who got in with a rookie laden roster who’s youthful energy could just jump up and let talent take over on occasion.
It’s hard for me to even touch the stupidity of having teams pick their opponent. Maybe I’m just an old guy screaming at clouds here, but to me 162 games should make all the decisions for playoff seeding, if it isn’t accomplishing that, well, why are we playing so many games?
I’m torn on this issue in case you can’t tell. I think expanded playoffs is a band aid for a larger issue in the game, a band aid that is going on a wound smothered in antibiotic ointment and doomed to fall off just as we get to work.
I also think they can’t afford to have MLB expand into the Thanksgiving timeframe. So, to me that proposal leaves out some important things to think about like potentially shortening the season.
As we watch baseball teams wrestle with how to keep arms healthy for a full season, I can’t see how you could add even more and expect the number of pitchers who can’t make it through to not increase. At the very least perhaps a roster expansion is in order here.
Thing is, if I did a poll asking how many people would like to see expanded playoffs in MLB with no caveats or explanation of how it would be implemented, just left it at saying 2 more teams would make it, I bet as many as 80% of fans would support it. When you really start thinking about it though and see those inevitable twists and turns it’s hard to jump on board, even if we’d ultimately like the product.
Here’s the thing though, of all the things being discussed in the CBA negotiations, this effort is the one I can’t see them coming out of this without including. There is simply too much money to be left on the table for both sides here and as we’ve seen time and again, that fact will win out over being good for the game if push comes to shove.