Please don't kill the pennant races
Remember the old movie It Happens Every Spring? It's a 1949 comedy about baseball, or the kind of movie that baseball fans like me watch every year to get ready for opening day. You can add Pride of the Yankees and 61 to that list.
This brings us to the run-up to the opening day of today.
Like some of the scenes in the movies, the players and the owners are caught up in a fight about the business side of the game. It happens. I am not angry that both sides want to make as much money as possible. It's business, and I get it.
The current negotiations include an expansion of the post-season, from 10 to 14 teams. I hate the idea, and let me tell you why.
The 162-game season is long enough. How many post-season series are we going to play? November baseball is a travesty, especially when temperatures drop. Snowflakes and baseball don't mix.
The proposed expanded post-season format will kill the pennant race, which is one of the most unique things about baseball. A pennant race is when teams compete for the divisional title or league championship, as happened before 1969. It's a daily or nightly thing for the last 20 games of the season. I remember many a pennant race night listening to my little transistor and catching a game in Detroit, New York, or Boston. Sometimes we got lucky, and a local station would broadcast the game, and we got better sound. It makes September interesting, especially for the teams out of contention who get to knock out the pennant contenders.
My life is full of pennant race memories.
Back in 1967, our family was living in Wisconsin and in love with the Minnesota Twins. They had four Cuban players, and we picked up their games on some rural radio station. Later in September, the Twins, Red Sox, Tigers, and White Sox were involved in one of the greatest pennant races ever. On Friday, or the last weekend, all four teams were in the race. The White Sox dropped a double-header and were eliminated. On Sunday, the Red Sox beat the Twins, and the Angels beat the Tigers. The Red Sox won the American League (AL) pennant.
There were others. Between 1977 and 1982, the AL East title was decided on the last weekend several times. In 1964, the Phillies blew a six-game lead with 10 games left, and the Cardinals jumped in. Who can forget the Yankees and Red Sox ending up in a tie in 1978? And deciding everything in a one-game playoff at Fenway?
Why does it matter? Because it gave value to the season. None of those moments would have mattered with every team qualifying for the postseason.
Call me old-fashioned, a purist, or whatever. Please don't make the baseball season into a seeding exercise like the NBA or NHL. I like the current format with three division winners and a couple of wild card teams vying for the fourth seed.
Keep baseball as baseball. Don't give me this nonsense where 8th seeds get to play the 1st seeds in the first round of the "playoffs."
Well, here is something to think about when you are tired of Ukraine news or hearing President Biden saying the economy is better than it seems.
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Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.