It would have been pretty cruddy for fans to not get a chance to see their teams play at least one time at home in the postseason.
Major League Baseball is going to have to find the sense to make their regular season matter more while elongating their postseason. This is best done by shortening the regular season to provide the time for additional postseason games.
MLB needs more suspense for fans of teams who haven’t smelled the postseason in forever. Fans in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and others have gone past the feeling of being neglected. Sports fans are beginning to ignore baseball completely after a certain point in the season.
For baseball to stay relative for a long period of time in the U.S. sports calendar, there needs to be more opportunity for teams to get into the postseason and more possibility for surprises in the playoffs.
There have been plenty of Wildcard teams making the upsets happen and getting to the World Series since the Wildcard came into existence, but more interesting postseason matchups are necessary to create more rivalries and contemporary nostalgia.
Baseball is going against the American sports grain. The stadiums are too big, major portions of the regular season are useless and not enough teams are getting into the playoffs.
The NBA Playoffs is what most forces MLB’s hand. The NBA Playoffs are successful. It may take a long time to complete, but the format has worked to keep sports fans engaged and has created a marketing windfall.
The NBA’s regular season is half the amount of games. An 82-game regular NBA season ends up with 16 teams and best of seven from the first round through the Finals. MLB has twice the amount of regular season games (162) and has 10 playoff teams with best of one, best of five and then best of 7 in the semis and World Series.
Baseball fans are getting swindled. Too many games that don’t matter, not enough of ones that do matter, and not enough playoff teams to make it more interesting.
MLB has to copy the NBA format and find a way to cap the regular season with fewer games. Possibly, 128 games is enough, then with best-of-seven series from the first round to the World Series in a 16-team tournament. This could be the solution to increasing support and excitement for baseball among sports fans.
With fewer games, it could be that players are more apt to stay healthy, which would create a better product for the fans.
These changes are big changes to the game, but necessary ones, for the game to thrive.
The sports fan has a lot more going on than they used to, and baseball’s priority among sports fans has declined over the years. MLB needs to create more demand and more drama.
What happened between Texas and St. Louis last year, one strike away, needs to happen more often throughout the postseason.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com