A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

A crazy idea to make the MLB more fun and relevant!

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Mike Trout

Mike Trout (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Of the four major sports – the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, I have little doubt about which appeals to me least. Regular season baseball games are long, slow and they mean half as much as the others. It’s just not as fun or compelling.

Here’s a idea I came up with that’s a radical change, but maybe one is needed!

First of all, we can’t change the amount of innings in the game or the amount of games of the season. The former because it’d be far too heavy a sledgehammer to the format and tradition of the game and its fans, not to mention it’d cost too many players their jobs. The amount of games are staying for financial reasons.

Here’s my proposal: Don’t change the length of the season, but change what the games mean. Instead of every game counting for one win or loss, make every 3 or 5 games between teams a “best of” series. So if two teams play 3 times, the team that wins 2, gets the “series win”. And this is what counts in the standings – the amount of series wins vs losses that a team accumulates over the season.

The first immediate problem that comes to mind for this idea, is that a best of three consecutively can’t work, because if a team wins the first two games, the third becomes meaningless. The way to fix it is this. A series doesn’t have to be completed on consecutive days. Say Detroit and Oakland are having a 3 game set. Detroit wins the first 2 games, meaning they add a series win to their record without having to play a third game for it. The 3rd game that week thus, becomes the first game of the next series. Then perhaps Detroit and Oakland aren’t set to play again for another month. When they do, the final one or two games of the series are played, if not the beginning of the next series right after it. This also allows 4 games series to still exist as they do now. In that case the teams would be guaranteed to both complete one series that week, in addition to starting the next one, whether it’s 1 or 2 games played in it.

This still presents a concern that the amount of series two teams play in a year is not set. For every team a series ends 2-0, it starts the next series a game earlier than if it goes to three games. So by the end of the year, the amount of “series” two teams have played is not entirely set and it’s likely teams would have a different total amount of series played in the year, even if playing exactly as many games. However I assume this isn’t a major concern. For one, records could be counted by winning % of series, moreso than the raw W/L of them, making it irrelevant if one team has played more series than another. Secondly, games could be cancelled on the end of a team’s schedule or a make-up game could be added to balance it out, without a huge hassle, I assume.

As for the benefits, it adds a fresh spin to the schedule. Instead of 162 games with diluted value, teams may have 60-70 series a year for whom the winner of each, is very important. Furthermore every 3rd game of a series in a “winner takes it” situation (or 5th, if best of 5s are included), becomes more exciting and important than any regular season on the present schedule. In addition, teams are put into “close-out” or “elimination” game situations in these series even before the ‘winner take all’ game, also adding a layer of intrigue and reason to watch them. That every week would have a varying combination of series beginning games or potentially series-ending ones, would make the schedule and the upcoming games for the team more compelling. Within the games, it also creates the potential for bigger moments for its players. It’s one thing for a player to hit a game-winning hit or walk-off home run, or a reliever to blow a save in regular games, when there’s 162 of them. But a walk-off hit when it wins a series, or a reliever blowing one? That play becomes twice to three times as important and thus, twice to three times as interesting. It also provides a reason for very casual MLB fans like me to watch. Right now I have no incentive to watch any baseball game except my team the Cubs or the Blue Jays because I live in Canada (truthfully, I’m usually hoping for them to lose). However, in this now series system, now I can look at the scores and see that Detroit and Oakland or Cincinatti and Pittsburgh are in the 7th-9th innings of a series deciding game. Aren’t I more likely to turn on that game as a neutral fan of those teams, or to care who wins, or if a player is specifically responsible for that win? And to be honest, I can go weeks without watching a full Cubs game in the dog days of the season like this. But if there were series-deciding games on the schedule, I could pick out 30-50 full games to watch a year – the most important ones. This works for the very casual baseball fans like me.

It’s a big change and unlikely, but I think it’d make Major League Baseball more fun and appealing to me.

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Written by jr.

July 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Baseball

Tagged with ,

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