UnNews:Baseball discards playoff format
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1 July 2010
In the wake of the controversy over the blown call by umpire Jim Joyce, there were numerous calls for Commissioner Bud Selig to intervene. Pundits said the authority delegated to umpires, and the rules regarding who makes decisions, should yield to baseball's perennial desire to "get the call right." The Commissioner did not intervene. "I was on the yacht all weekend and honestly didn't hear about the controversy," he says.
But he is no stranger to the need for activist management. It was he who, in the 11th inning of the 2002 All-Star Game, saw that pitchers were tired and fans were getting antsy. "Go home. We're done," he declared.
Consequently, Mr. Selig has taken the initiative to deal with the reality that the only three teams playing quality baseball in the American League are all in the Eastern Division. Under existing rules, at most two of them could make the playoffs. Mr. Selig this morning announced that all three decent teams will be given an automatic berth into the post-season. The teams are the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Boston Red Sox Disabled List. Mr. Selig explained, "We will continue to use the wild card to keep the pennant race interesting in cities where the talent has long ceased to be." The team with the fourth-best overall record will enter the post-season and compete against the three designated teams.
Boston and New York have achieved quality by their ability to spend $160 million annually on payroll, while Tampa Bay has been a charmed team ever since they broke with Satan and changed their name from the Devil Rays. The Commissioner's decision to reserve a slot for the Boston DL reflects the fact that most of Boston's talent is not on the active roster. "I hope that these players will be healthy by October," he said. "If not, we can make special provisions, extending the designated hitter rule to provide for designated bat-swingers, designated ball-catchers, and designated ball-throwers for the injured athletes."
Mr. Selig has even thought about the possibility that the Baltimore Orioles or the Toronto Blue Jays should get decent by autumn, which would mean that all four post-season teams would be in the Eastern Division. "We will appeal to Western audiences, as usual, with artificially long breaks between innings, and the nation's most entertaining TV commercials. And, even without time-zone complications, we have long shown we have the ability to keep important games from ending before 2 a.m."
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