October 29, 2008
At least for two days, that is. Mother Nature played a cruel trick on baseball fans on Monday evening, with a form of water torture that is probably a violation of the Geneva Convention. Game 5 of the 2008 World Series started in a mild drizzle that gradually intensified as the innings progressed until the field had turned into one big mud puddle by the sixth inning. Once the game was half over, with the Phillies in the lead, 2-1, they could have called it officially over under normal circumstances. That would have led to a huge outcry, however, so Commissioner Selig wisely provided assurances in advance that such an ending to the World Series would not even be considered. When the Tampa Bay Rays tied the game in the top of the sixth, the pressure was off, providing a perfect opportunity to stop the game before it turned into a complete farce. The rain continued all day Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, but is supposed to clear in time to resume Game 5 in the bottom of the sixth this evening. We'll see about that.
If nothing else, this interlude of rotten weather should serve to remind everyone how ridiculous it is to play baseball so late into the autumn. Why do they keep stretching out the postseason schedule longer and longer each year? Some nitwit "genius" in MLB's Park Avenue headquarters probably convinced Selig, DuPuy, et al. that they could rake in more TV advertising revenues that way. It was mildly reassuring that Selig indicated that next October there would be fewer "rest" days, which are no longer necessary in the Jet Age. (That would be since 1960, more or less.) But they really need to go farther than that.
Accordingly, I would suggest that the Major League regular season should be shortened by a full week -- from 26, as at present, to 25. That would mean fewer rest days during the season, and might lead to more double-headers. (As "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks said, "Let's play two!") Thus, Opening Day would always be in the first week of April and there would never be a regular season game in March or October. For the postseason, I would suggest stretching the first-round divisional series from five games to seven, possibly with a 3-3-1 format to give a bigger home-field advantage to the higher-seeded teams. The league championship series and World Series would remain on the same format as at present, but with NO rest days. To reduce the number of wasted days, each series would start one day after the previous series ended, rather than being definitively scheduled in advance. Thus, the World Series would typically end within a few days of mid-October -- not around Halloween, as is the case under the current system.