Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baseball's Post-Season Problems Made Worse

The two biggest problems with baseball's post season - too many off days, and Series games being played in ever-cooler weather - were made worse this year by baseball's addition of three off days in the playoff schedule. The three off days added were one extra day off between the end of the season and start of the playoffs (playoffs started on Wednesday instead of Tuesday), another day off between games four and five of the division series, and a third day off between games four and five of the LCS. [update 10-15-07: Oops, I counted wrong. There have been four off days added. I didn't see the extra day between the LSC and World Series.]

Baseball already has a problem with too many days off. With all the sweeps in the division series, we sat around all week waiting for the LCS to start. And with already two days off in a seven game series, a third in the LCS is completely unnecessary. This was done, of course, with TV in mind. Why are multiple days off needed in a playoff series? They're called "travel days," but there are few of these during the regular season. Post season scheduling favors teams with fewer good pitchers, because all the days off allow them to max out on their 1-2 starters. The Two Headed Monster in 2001 was a good example. Johnson and Schilling won the four games.

Playing late into October has been a problem, too, with all the cold weather. Now with the extra days off, even a season that ends in September will push the World Series into November. What baseball needs to do is cut the days off in a seven game series to a max of one, maybe between games five and six. Each series should start only one travel day after the previous serieses end. This year, the NLCS would have started on Wednesday instead of Thursday and the ALCS could have started on Wednesday instead of Friday. What difference does it make to start a series on a date set before the season even starts when playoff starting times aren't even announced until the last minute?

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