Fixing the Postseason

Peter Gammons, before last night's demi-game:

When this World Series finally ends, there will be a great deal of discussion about how to avoid this sort of misery. The first will be to figure a way to shorten the schedule. Say the schedule was reduced from 162 to 148 games (records or no records; the Steroids Era made too many baseball records meaningless), then the division series and League Championship Series could be played between Sept. 20 and Oct. 6, with the World Series theoretically completed by mid-October. Granted, the loss of the seven home dates would hit teams' revenue streams, but they'll just have to adjust player salaries; CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez might have to make ends meet on measly $20M salaries.

In the mid-'90s, several owners went to a Miami Super Bowl and discussed the notion of having a 10-day World Series at a neutral site. They'd have to get local fans to buy into destination and vacation packages. There wouldn't be the feel in Anaheim, San Diego or Los Angeles that there is in New York, Chicago, St. Louis or Boston. But then the Cardinals are the only team since the 2002 Angels to win in front of their home fans. It would be a hard sell, but the notion of a World Series week has some advantages.

I say no to the second option - October baseball in a neutral, warm-weather site? heresy! - but yes to the first. Though I don't see why you'd need to drop all the way to 148: Why not go back to the original 154, thus re-establishing continuity with the pre-Sixties game? They'd save about nine days, which would give MLB the flexibility to start the postseason a week earlier and, perhaps, to make the first round best of seven instead of best of five. And while they're at it, they could start a few more playoff games before 8 PM, and even schedule a few for the weekend afternoons. I know, I know, the TV networks would never allow it - but some day soon, we're going to reach a point where the World Series ratings have nowhere to go but up.

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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