To gain proper perspective of Major League Baseball’s prospects of producing a viewer-friendly World Series, let’s bring some of the less-desirable elements to the forefront.
Coming off a 2008 World Series accentuated by foul weather and the first rain-suspended WS Game, MLB was desperate for a noncontroversial finale to the playoffs. After all, the lasting impression for many will be the series-clinching Game five that actually took three days to complete!
Fast forward to October of this year and despite a playoff field loaded with intriguing, large-market teams, the grumblings began about the playoff’s made-for-TV format, which translated into 15 games played over 29 days for the eventual Champion, NY Yankees.
And did I mention that Games 4 through 7 were scheduled to take place in November?
So after witnessing arguably the most visually-unappealing World Series anyone can remember in 2008, fraught with rain, cold, miserably-bundled fans and baseball’s most unattractive stadium (Tropicana), what would Bud Selig do to help avoid a repeat performance in 2009?
For starters, give yourself a chance, Bud!
Before the 2009 campaign was underway, MLB presented the second edition of the World Baseball Classic played during Spring Training, and while it does provide a new competitive element to preseason baseball, it also forces a prolonged season.
Worse, it guarantees the World Series being decided in November.
When Bud and MLB added the Wild Card and subsequent Divisional round of playoffs in 1995, there was very little downside to the decision that has brought added excitement to pennant races and four World Series Champions. However, due to the lengthening of the playoffs and MLB’s commitment to appeasing their broadcast partners, baseball is dangerously advancing their crowning moment into uncharted waters of the sports calendar.
No, we’re not talking the “frozen tundra” of NFL fields but is baseball really meant to be played with earmuffs, gloves and long johns?
This is a sport that is best enjoyed with a cold beer, flip flops, and a ball cap to shade the eyes of from the bright summer sun. It’s also a sport that embraces Fall when the calendar flips to October—but we need to be searching for ways to KEEP the Fall Classic in October rather than pushing ancillary agendas like the WBC.
Because nothing is more important to baseball than the World Series, and everything should be done to preserve its purity.
It’s been a tumultuous run for baseball since the Yankee last won a World Series in 2000. Bud’s world has been rocked by the Steroid scandal nightmare that seemingly has lasted all decade. And just when we think the issue may be losing steam, another marquee name makes headlines, most recently A-Rod and Manny Ramirez, and re-opens a painful wound.
But for lucky Bud, on this day, all is well in his world—and all is well in baseball, because the Yankees are Champs once again.
With a star-fueled matchup pitting the defending champions versus baseball’s de facto champion, what could possibly go wrong for Bud and baseball?
Privately, my guess is Bud would tell you that plenty could go wrong.
Remember, the World Series hadn’t delivered a truly compelling series since Marlins-Yankees in 2003; not coincidentally, the last time the Yankees appeared in the WS. This isn’t to say the World Series has lacked compelling matchups or storylines such as 2004’s Red Sox vs. Cardinals, but there has been a rash of abbreviated series which have failed to produce the drama of World Series past.
Surely if the Yankees had swept the Phillies in dominating fashion, Bud would then hear the usual criticism about the Evil Empire’s unfair financial advantage over other teams because of their inflated payroll.
Then there’s Mother Nature.
How relieved do you think Bud was when the Colorado Rockies were eliminated in the playoffs?
Alas, in the 2009 postseason, Bud caught his breaks—and now the Commissioner’s Trophy is back in its comfortable home of New York.
Let’s see how far Bud and MLB can carry this good vibe.