Do expanded playoffs mean shorter season?

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
3:09
PM ET
Yeah, I'll believe this when it actually happens:
    Baseball's playoffs could be expanding in two years.

    The new head of the players' union says his members are open to adding more wild-card teams for 2012 and possibly extending the division series to a best-of-seven.

    Union head Michael Weiner says it's also possible players would agree to cutting the regular season from 162 games, but that's more problematic because it would cost teams revenue.

    "There is sentiment among a substantial segment of the players to consider expanding the playoffs," Weiner said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of his first World Series since replacing Donald Fehr as union head.

    --snip--

    "Certainly some of the players have said either we should shorten the regular season because the regular season's too long, or we should shorten the regular season to accommodate expanded postseason," Weiner said, adding that would have "revenue implications for the industry."

    "That is one of the ideas that they are kicking around. But having said that, we understand that a proposal to reduce the length of the regular season will be viewed one way by the owners as opposed to a proposal to expand or modify the structure of the postseason."

This is one of those times when I wish the inmates weren't co-running the asylum. Because, quite frankly, I couldn't care less about the players' feelings about these things.

But the players' feelings do matter, which is why the math never seems to work. If you play fewer games, you negatively impact revenues. Which hurts the players' feelings (and the owners', too). If you add another round to the postseason tournament without playing fewer regular-season games, now you're playing World Series games in the middle of November. Which nobody wants. Not until they start playing the Series in Hawaii or Florida or Southern California every year.

The "solution" here is incredibly simple, and everyone knows it ...

Doubleheaders.

If every team hosted just one day-night doubleheader per month, adding another series wouldn't push the postseason schedule any further into November.

Yes, all these doubleheaders would make the managers (and the general managers) lives a little harder. But they're already carrying 11 or 12 pitchers. Just make sure that one of them has the stamina to go five or six innings, and do some managing. In the old days, teams played dozens of doubleheaders every season, and got by with nine-man pitching staffs. I'm not saying it would be easy. But it could be done.

Which isn't to suggest I'm recommending these things. If they want to add another "round" of playoffs, I would prefer a one-gamer pitting two wild cards against one another, on the Tuesday after the season ends. Which wouldn't mean changing the schedule at all.

But if there's going to be a radical change in the postseason format, something somewhere else has to give. And since nobody wants to give up any revenue, that probably means the players have to give up some of their time. If not their precious off-days, then maybe some of their Saturday afternoons.

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