Nov
19

Selig talks about a shortened playoff schedule

By

After 162 games over 180 days during the regular season, baseball slows down for the playoffs. Any given team can play a maximum 19 games in the postseason, which usually last 30 days (plus the days off following the regular season conclusion). That’s quite a change for players and fans, who are used to the every day nature of baseball. Couldn’t baseball do something to shorten the postseason schedule so that they’d get days off at least somewhat comparable to the regular season?

There are a few obstacles in the way of such a playoff layout. Travel days is an obvious one. It’s unfair to make a team, or both teams, travel from the West Coast after a game and play the next day. In fact, during the regular season a team cannot travel from the West Coast to the East Coast without a day off. So preserving some level of off-days when changing venues makes sense, because you never know where the travel will take you.

Another obstacle is the uncertainty of how long a series lasts. Three of four teams swept their opponents in the first round this year, and the other series went only four games. This meant many extra days off for these teams. First because of the unplayed games, but also because of the travel days between them — and in a 2-2-1 system, that’s two game days and a travel day for the sweeping teams, and one game day and a travel day for the four-game team.

Yet the biggest obstacle of all could be the television networks. They pay a lot of money to acquire broadcast rights for the playoffs, and they therefore want to maximize their advertising revenues. This necessarily means more days off. TBS and FOX benefit when they’re the only station with a game. This is why one LCS starts a day before the other, and also why there’s a random day off between Games 4 and 5. It puts each station in an exclusive position, meaning they’ll be able to grab a greater portion of the total audience attention.

On top of the want for extra days off, the networks also request to start the playoffs on a Wednesday. It helps them to get more games in during peak viewership hours. If the playoffs started on a Saturday, the lowest-rated night of the week, they would probably have fewer people watching, and therefore lower advertising revenue.

Commissioner Bud Selig recently addressed this issue, saying that he favors a shorter playoff schedule. In fact, citing an argument from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, Selig pretty firmly says that we can expect a tightened playoff layout.

“We’re going to change it,” Selig said. “I don’t disagree with Mike Scioscia. I think he was right, so we’re going to try and tighten that up.”

He goes on to cite some of the complications listed above, but concedes that some of the off-days — I’m assuming those requested by the networks — are unnecessary. That sounds like a definitive statement from Selig, though I’m not quite as optimistic that much will change next postseason.

I’d like to see some more flexibility in the scheduling, if possible. As we saw with the one-game playoff this season, sometimes there are issues of venue availability. The Twins and Tigers were supposed to face off the Monday after the season ended, but weren’t able to because the Vikings had a Monday night game scheduled for then. Baseball had to wait another day. There won’t be a football-baseball overlap for them this season, but there are still a few teams that play in dual-purpose arenas. And in those cases, flexible scheduling can be an issue.

Will Bud stand by his word on this one? I hope so. The long playoff layout afforded the Yankees an advantage this postseason, but I’d make the trade-off. Players go through a long, grueling regular season with just 18 off-days in six months. I’d like to see a more accurate emulation of that for the playoffs.

Addendum by Ben: Just to hit on a point, the lengthened playoff schedule, as Shysterball so aptly reminds us, was Selig’s doing in the first place. He’s simply trying to undo another bad decision he made when he kowtowed the interests of TV over the flow of the playoffs. Other than for the sake of TV, there’s no reason the ALCS can’t start two days after the last ALDS wraps up, and there’s no reason why the World Series can’t just start two days after the last LCS game is played. If Selig had the best interests of baseball in mind, he would fix this problem.

Categories : Playoffs
  • Bo

    The long schedule certainly helped the Yankees win the title this yr. A shortened post season would have brought a 4th starter into the mix at some point. Which is why they are going to need another starter next yr.

    • pete

      Well, to be fair, it helped the other teams too. But I agree, a good 4th starter solves a lot of problems. And Joba/Phil are capable of being good 4th starters. I also think that the slumps of tex, cano, and swish were all greatly influenced by the exorbitant amount of rest.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Good thing Joba and Hughes won’t have innings limits. Thanks to that, we just instantly went from 3 starters to 5.

      Problem solved.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        There have been several articles stating the fact that Joba hasn’t even been told his role next year…let alone anything about innings limits. We don’t know for sure. We’re strongly assuming he’ll be a starter again without any innings limits…but anything can happen.

        Also, we don’t know the effects that this years innings limit will do to Joba next year.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          “Also, we don’t know the effects that this years innings limit will do to Joba next year.”

          But we don’t know the effects any given year will have on the next.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            Agreed. But there is more reason to believe that he MAY get injured or fatigued or whatever since he over extended his innings limit this past year…much more so than the previous year.

            That’s not so much an issue with all the other pitchers…some? sure…but the majority…no.

          • andrew

            Yes, but I believe Joba is the only one of our starters coming off a career high in IP

            • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

              This.

        • A.D.

          It’s really been one interview/quote in several different media outlets articles.

          Thats said, the Yankees are obviously going to have a 4th and 5th starter next year, and they do have 2 immediate options in Hughes & Joba

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Horse’s Mouth Time, emphasis mine:

          For the most part, general manager Brian Cashman has left all of next year’s questions unanswered until the organizaton’s internal meetings take place, but this afternoon he gave his opinion on Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.

          “I look at them as starters that can relieve,” he said. “But I look at them as starters.”

          Again, Cashman stressed that nothing is set in stone until he meets with his pro scouts, but it seems a good bet that the two young right handers will at least enter spring training as rotation candidates. Any innings limits, Cashman said, would not be significant.

          “I would anticipate going into spring training with as much starting depth as possible,” Cashman said. “Plan on having a whole list of guys.”

          http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....n-relieve/

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            I agree. But that article was around 11/10-11/11.

            This article was literally yesterday.

            http://mlb.mlb.com/news/articl.....Id=rss_nyy

            More than likely they are starters…but we don’t know if Pettitte is coming back…who else we’re getting, etc. I’m sure he’s going to wait until all the pieces are filled before he makes any final decision.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          There have been several articles stating the fact that Joba hasn’t even been told his role next year…

          Joba made one statement that numerous news outlets turned into one article each. That doesn’t lead to “several articles.” Also, there’s the fact that Cashman has called Joba and Phil starters more than once.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            “One article each” written by “several news outlets” is essentially “several articles” regardless of technicalities.

            Also, Joba’s interview was more recent than any of Cashman’s statements made about Joba or Hughes…thus making Cashman’s unclear stance on the issue even more unknown.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

              Or, Cashman knows what he’s doing, or at least what he wants to do, but because revealing that would affect how he deals with free agents, he’s not saying anything.

              One thing I think people fail to consider is that Cashman has no reason to be totally transparent. He’s playing an intricate game with 29 other teams, and the team’s plans should therefore stay as close to their chests as possible.

              • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                I’ll agree with this. He probably has a very good idea of what he wants…but he still will become more certain once he has all the pieces in place. And he may very well be using it as a tactic. I was just stating that it’s not 100% that Joba and Hughes are in the rotation…let alone all year long.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Me: Joba and Phil won’t have innings limits and will be starters.
              You: We don’t know either of those two things.
              Me: Here’s an article that directly quotes Brian Cashman and says Joba and Phil won’t have innings limits and will be starters.
              You: Here’s another article that vaguely insinuates that things are still up in the air and doesn’t quote Brian Cashman.
              Me: …

              … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand SCENE!

              • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                Me: Joba and Phil won’t have innings limits and will be starters.
                You: We don’t know either of those two things.
                Me: Here’s an article that directly quotes Brian Cashman and says vaguely saying that Joba and Phil won’t may not have innings limits and will stressed how he would like them be starters.
                You: Here’s another article that vaguely insinuates that things are still up in the air and doesn’t quote Brian Cashman.
                Me: …

                … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand SCENE!

                There. Fixed. I don’t see how Brian Cashman talking about how he wants as much starting depth as possible equals “there isn’t going to be an innings limit.”

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Again, it’s right there in the bold print.

                  Any innings limits, Cashman said, would not be significant.

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  Me: Here’s an article that directly quotes Brian Cashman and says Joba and Phil won’t have innings limits and will be starters.

                  AND

                  Any innings limits, Cashman said, would not be significant.

                  …are saying entirely different things

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  No.

                  They’re saying SLIGHTLY different things. Not entirely different things.

                  One is saying “There won’t be innings limits”. That was me who said that. That was an oversimplification on my part, my bad.

                  The other is saying “If there ARE innings limits, they will NOT be significant.” Implicit in that, however, is the underlying premise that Joba and Phil will be starters and will not have innings limits of any significance.

                  My absolution was an overstatement, but my point generally is correct. Your point, that things still remain largely up in the air and unsettled, that point is wrong. You are correct in saying that I’m being too absolute on my end, but you’re still wrong in maintaining that the situation is not clearly and thoroughly pointing towards Joba and Phil both being in the rotation and both being largely unhampered by any innings limits, irrespective of any Joba quotation sourced by Anthony Dicomo in his article which does not contradict anything in the Chad Jennings article a week earlier.

                  In any event, absent my opinions on the matter, if you have a quote from Joba and a quote from Cashman and the two don’t totally match up, trust the Cashman quote more. He’s the one making the actual decisions here.

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  I’m not trying to disagree with you here or cross my fingers and hope that I’m right. I was only saying that we don’t know what he is next year and neither does Joba. And I provided facts saying so.

                  My point wasn’t to ultimately point out that you were wrong…you happened to exaggerate on something so I kindly went off on a minor tangent and called you out on it.

                  My main point was that Joba doesn’t know his role. Regardless as to how you or the guys here interpret it…that’s what the article was saying…and I referenced it.

                  That’s all.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  I was only saying that we don’t know what he is next year and neither does Joba… My main point was that Joba doesn’t know his role.

                  And again, that’s just not really accurate. Joba may not know his role, but CASHMAN knows his role. He’s said so. The ambiguity Cashman left in his statement is typical Cashmanspeak, but he provided MORE information and MORE detail than he normally does, and that information and detail said “Joba’s a starter and doesn’t have innings limits of any significance”.

                  Sure, he left a window open for an alternative reality, but that window isn’t wide the freak open, it’s just tinily, narrowly cracked for an emergency scenario, like, maybe Joba gets hurt over the winter and the doctors say “He just can’t pitch more than 100 innings a season” or some wild shit like that. What Cashman said, directly, mind you, leads you to a natural assumption that in 99 cases out of 100, Joba Chamberlain will be in the starting rotation as of Opening Day and will remain there all year and will have no innings limits.

                  What happened after that is this: Anthony Dicomo and Joba Chamberlain had an interview and said “What about that 1%?” “Yeah, what about it? That’s interesting.”

                  Except it’s NOT interesting. It’s a non-story. The fact that it is technically possible that the sun does not come up tomorrow does not mean that there’s “uncertainty” about the sun coming up, or that the situation about the son coming up is “unsettled” or “murky”.

                  Unless something totally unforeseen happens, the sun is coming up tomorrow.

                  Unless something totally unforeseen happens, Joba Chamberlain will be a starting pitcher in the rotation for all of 2010 with no innings limits. I don’t see how that’s not the conclusion you draw based on the totality of those two articles, one of which was definite and factual and the other of which was inquisitive and speculative.

  • Chris

    There are a few obstacles in the way of such a playoff layout. Travel days is an obvious one. It’s unfair to make a team, or both teams, travel from the West Coast after a game and play the next day. In fact, during the regular season a team cannot travel from the West Coast to the East Coast without a day off.

    Two comments on this:

    1. How would it be unfair if both teams have to make the same trip? They’d play each other one day and both have exactly the same trip and exactly the same amount of time to travel to the next game.

    2. It may not be allowed to happen during the regular season, but it does. The Angels played in Anaheim on 9/13 and then in New York on 9/14. This was necessitated by a rain out, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happens. There are other cases where the teams played a night time game on the east coast and had to fly to the west coast for a game the next day.

    • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

      “There are other cases where the teams played a night time game on the east coast and had to fly to the west coast for a game the next day.”

      I can’t speak to the validity of that claim, but what does it have to do with anything? Going East-to-West is not the same as going West-to-East. In the former, time moves backwards, in the latter, time moves forward.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      To your comments.

      1) I can see why you would mention the canceling out effect. I still don’t think it’s fair to the players, though, to make that trip, even if their opponents did too.

      2) I’m not talking blips here and there. Yes, it happens, but only when it absolutely has to happen. And, as Brien said, going East to West does not have the same effect.

      • vin

        RE: #1

        Not only isn’t it fair to the players, but it’s not fair to the fans or the sport. The viewing public deserves to see the players play at their best condition, within reason.

      • Chris

        Why does east-to-west or west-to-east make any difference. The games are still 24 hours apart in the playoffs because they’re scheduled for a national audience.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          West-to-east travel is a longer, harder flight than vice versa, due to the rotation of the earth.

          • Chris

            Huh? The prevailing winds are west to east in the US, making the west coast to east coast flight shorter not longer.

            In general, the travel the other direction is more difficult because you lose 3 hours due to the time change. In the playoffs, however, the start times for games are set for a national audience and will generally be 24 hours apart (i.e. all games start at 7:57 eastern time), and thus the time change is only a minor inconvenience.

  • Bob Stone

    I’d love to see a more compressed playoff schedule. At odds with that though, I HATE the FIVE game Division Series.

    The owners won’t ever go back to a 154 game shedule (for obvious revenue loss reasons) and I’d hate to lose eight games a year as well. Instead . . . . I’m in favor of starting the season a week to ten days earlier with all games at warm or domed-stadium venues and adding two games for the Division Series.

    It would be great to get rid of the extra days off, but I doubt it will happen. When Selig talks to the Network executives and they tell him that the shortened schedule will cost MLB $XX million, that discussion will be OVER.

    As they say “Money talks . . . .”

    • vin

      “At odds with that though, I HATE the FIVE game Division Series.”

      I agree. The 5 game series runs counter to the nature of major league baseball.

      One of the things I like about the NBA is that usually the Finals champion is pretty clearly the best team… not just a team that got hot for a couple of weeks.

      • Bob Stone

        Exactly!!! I want to see the BEST team win even though any team can get hot, even in a 7 game series.

        In the early part of the century World Series were 9 and 11 games long. I would love to see a return to that format but in this era, it will NEVER happen.

        I’ll be happy just getting the Division Series to seven games.

  • vin

    I didn’t see weather mentioned in the post. That’s another monkey wrench. Hypothetical:

    Yanks vs. Angels
    There’s one rainout (certainly not out of the realm of possibility)
    Game 7 gets pushed back 1 day.
    Yanks win game 7 in NY
    Travel across the country to face the Dodgers in the WS.

    The single rain out, and the cross country flight necessitates the need for 2 days off between series. That doesn’t even take into account the optimal game days from FOX’s standpoint.

    I don’t think the time off between series will be changed – mostly because FOX has so much leverage.

    The only elements that can change, in my mind, are the days off between the reg. and post seasons, and the 1 extra off days in the first two rounds (but only for 2 of the 3 AL [DS and CS]series)

  • crapula

    I also think there should be some World Series or playoff day games. Not only is attending these games exhausting for those of us lucky enough to attend but even being home and watching can go on too late. And little kids like to watch too.

  • Greg

    Hate the 5 game series.