I'm a big baseball fan, but I don't consider myself a baseball purist. I like the DH and interleague play, and I'm so tired of the steroid issue, that I'd say just open the gates and let players do whatever they want to really level the playing field.
That's why I don't feel bad opening the debate to a new concept that might make baseball more appealing in the late summer and early fall.
Open up the wild card spots to 5 PER LEAGUE instead of 1.
Exactly. Right now, Major League Baseball is comprised of 30 teams and only 8 of those teams get to play in the playoffs, the 6 division winners and 2 wild cards. That's 4 AL teams and 4 NL teams. Pretty exclusive.
You can point to the NFL and say they only allow 12 teams, but remember, that's 4 division winners and 2 wild cards. So, the opportunity is pretty open. Plus, the NFL is different from the other sports in how the season runs its course, so I would look at that as the anomaly. However, look at basketball and hockey. 30 teams in each league. 16 teams make the playoffs. Top 8 in each conference (3 division winners, next 4 in rankings). Do you know what this breeds? Excitement in the final stretch of a season.
Take it from a Rangers fan who never sniffs the postseason. How much more exciting would it be in August if you knew that the Rangers were, rather than being 6 games out of the Wild Card, only 1 game out of the 8th final playoff spot? Wouldn't that make the games that much more exciting? Wouldn't the players feel like they were playing for something more than peanuts? Wouldn't that make fans want to go to the night games at the ball park to cheer their team into the postseason?
I look to basketball and hockey to see that the teams that are "right there" always put together these magical, Cinderella runs at the end of a season to push through to the playoffs and ride that wave because all it takes is to "get in" and then everyone comes back to 0-0 records. You're telling me that wouldn't work in baseball?
You can make the argument that they play twice the amount of games in the regular season, and each series is 7 games, it'd be too much. Okay, then don't make all the series 7 game series. Make the first two rounds 5 game series and the last two 7 game series.
Baseball is in trouble and is losing fans with all the scandals that are in place. Selig (who should be fired and crucified) needs to do something to a) reinvent baseball and b) reinvent his image. This could be the thing that can repackage the game into something that people get excited about beyond spring training and outside of the east coast.