Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:18 pm
The new slightly expanded playoff system was always going to pass. There never was a doubt. And there is an easy way to explain why that is: what Bud wants, Bud gets.
But there is another good reason in this case. It makes sense.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wanted to add two more teams to the playoff mix, two play-in teams, actually, that will vie to become the wild-card team in a one-game playoff. Selig's support all but guaranteed it would happen eventually.
Though even with Bud's backing, the other thing you know is that these things always go right down to the deadline. Tomorrow is the official deadline to change the playoff format, though this is in reality a soft deadline, meaning it may take another day or two past the deadline to finalize things. But it will pass in time to make it happen for the 2012 baseball season.
Another reason it will pass is that there is no real opposition to the concept. The only reason it's taken right up until the deadline is that there are complicated scheduling and TV issues to be worked out. MLB needs to satisfy its TV partners as well as the players, who are the ones who will be performing in these extra games.
The new rule will put a greater premium on the regular season. Now it will be a bigger advantage to win the division as opposed because it means avoiding the winner-take-all play-in game.
Adding the ninth and 10th teams to the postseason mix opens things up a bit, too -- though not too much. Baseball -- and Bud -- are striking exactly the right note here.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 9:47 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:50 am
The news that Bud Selig's extension had been approved by baseball's owners and will be announced Thursday was met with the predictable fan groans via twitter and email. No surprise there. The big guy always takes the hits.
But here is why it's a good thing Selig is staying in the job he took on an "interim'' basis (chuckle, chuckle) nearly two decades ago, from 1 to 10.
1. Nobody can pull together disparate and often cranky multimillionaire and billionaire owners like Selig. Sure, a few of these guys are normal, grounded people (i.e. Stu Sternberg, Mark Attanasio). But a large number of them are either egomanical, entitled, or both (or frankly, just plain nutty). To get them to come together and form a consensus as often as he does is just plain amazing. As one management person said, "He gets things done.''
2. A lot of what he gets done is worthwhile. Interleague play, the wild card and the originally expanded playoffs are a hit (which is why he's pushing to expand the original expansion now). The races have been just as exciting, and more teams have at least gotten themsleves into playoff contention. The final day of the 2011 regular season is possibly the most exciting non-playoff day in team sports history.
3. The other two reasons more teams have gotten into the September and October acts are the revenue sharing and luxury tax elements he pushed through. The Yankees payroll is still the highest in baseball but it's remained steady the past few years, and now the Yankees are aiming to move it down below $189 million by 2014, which would have been unthinkable until the new CBA. The NFL talks about its parity, but that league rigs the schedules to aid that goal (and still doesn't completely succeed, as New England and Pittsburgh are great every year). Baseball's only multiple World Series winners over the past 11 years are the Red Sox and Cardinals, with two titles apiece. Small-market teams like Tampa Bay have become powers. Minnesota was good before it started spending big. And a movie was made about Oakland's great success before it turned down, too. Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Cincinnati and Milwaukee have had their moments, as well. Nineteen clubs have made the postseason the last five years.
3. Of course the 1994 work stoppage and cancelation of the World Series was a bad thing. But with the new CBA, there will be 21 straight years of labor peace through 2016, an amazing achievement, especially when you consider what's going on in the other major sports.
4. Sure, Selig was slow to react to the steroid problem in baseball (as we all were). But now MLB has the best and toughest steroid program, one that is blind to a player's name and ability (see 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun). Fifty games for a first offense is a tough penalty that provides real deterrent. MLB is also the first U.S. sport to institute blood testing for hGH. And unlike the NFL, baseball provides due process in the form of an arbitration process that gives players who fail tests a chance to clear their names and slates.
5. Baseball players have guaranteed contracts, an extraordinary pension plan and no concussion scandal.
6. Selig has generally made the right calls weeding out bad ownership candidates in his meticulous process of vetting new ownera. The one obvious mistake of allowing Frank McCourt to buy the storied Dodgers franchise has been erased by Selig's ability to be rid the sport of the carpetbagging creep (he is a goner April 30).
7. Baseball has built 20 new stadiums on his watch, and about 17 or 18 of them are beautiful shining lights, including PNC Park, Safeco, AT&T, Citi Field, Camden Yards and Comerica. The Marlins' new park looks amazing, even if it's yet to be seen whether South Florida can support a major-league team. Only Oakland and Tampa Bay have had continuing trouble getting new digs, and there appears to be some new hope for the A's.
8. The WBC is the most extensive international baseball event here, and 2013 will feature its third installment.
9. Even though Selig can barely log on, MLB.com is the model internet site for all leagues.
10. Baseball attendance and revenues keep rising in an awful economy, to the point where the attendance has been the hghest the past eight years and receipts have surpassed $7 billion a year two years running (double what they were a decade ago). Nine teams drew at least three million fans in 2011, led for the first time by the Philadelphia Phillies, and only one failed to draw 1.5 million (the A's). It truly is the golden age of baseball, even if Bud frequently has to remind us.
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:51 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:54 am
Bud Selig is likely to remain as commissioner beyond his current contract, which was set to expire at year's end. ESPN reported he will receive an extension of at least two years at the baseball owners meeting in Phoenix next week, and there clearly is a movement on the part of ownership people to make that happen.
Selig had been maintaining publicly that he'd step down after the year as planned,, but the people closest to him all along said it's no different than in the past, that Selig loves his job too much to leave. Selig is also seen as the best person to deal with the major issues of the day, including the TV contract, the Mets, stadium issues and other items on the horizon. Selig's great strength is pulling together 30 disparate successful people with varying agendas to form a consensus.