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Sunday 26th Mar 2017

My friend Ben Klein sent me an e-mail the other day, admitting he just realized that the Reds and the Indians were now out of the playoffs.

He then proceeded to note that he did not like the DH, or Interleague play, or the new playoff format.

I would hardly consider Ben negative, but he is a purist of sorts. So, I contextualized this in a traditional baseball sense, I knew what he meant.

When I was young, and I have about a decade on Ben, there were two leagues with eight teams in each. The winner of each league earned the right to duke it out in the World Series with the other league champ.

Now though we still have two leagues, each has 15 teams, just one less than the total of my youth.

I guess it did seem simpler, or maybe purer watching those 16 teams when I was eight years old, goggle eyed at the spectacle of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson and Mickey Mantle.

It would be a decade before the DH, and another 30 years for Interleague games, and then another chunk before this last iteration of playoffs.

I don't remember whether I even cared that much, however, when the DH change was made. I was 17, a Sophomore in college in the late 60's in the Bay Area. Those days were a lot more about sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, with the occasional Vietnam protest tossed in to give the illusion of purpose.

As far as keeping the DH, I don't think it matters so much whether it exists or not anymore, as opposed to both leagues should simply play by the same set of rules. Period.

Though it was years later for Interleague games, I not only liked them at first glance, I really started to love them this year when they were simply scheduled during the course of the season as opposed to during specific periods.

But, I have to say, I think the new extra wild card one-day playoff is wonderful.

Just think back to how exciting the last week, and especially day of the season has been over the past pair of seasons.

And, while this year, it seemed the deadline trades were down a little based upon expectation, there were a ton of post-deadline machinations made.

Having the Monday duel between the Rays and the Rangers as a pre-cursor to those follow-up elimination matches between the Reds and Bucs, and then Rays and Tribe were similarly fun.

I know there are those out there who think if there has to be a playoff like that, it should at least be a best-of-three scenario, but I look at the game like sudden death, which is basically what it is.

Or, in other words, one last ditch chance to show how good your team really is under a pressure situation.

The Devil's Advocate in me notes that any team can have a bad day, and one game is not a barometer of a team's real quality.

That might be true, but neither is a three-game series, or even a best-of-seven format.

For, certainly a team has to be good to make the Wild Card playoff, but it is also true that in most championships like baseball or football, the team that is hot at the right time is the one to favor. And, being hot at the right time means winning those one-game showdowns.

Baseball is a pretty conservative organization, all things considered.

Back to when I was eight, and really into it for my first full season, it had barely been a decade since Jackie Robinson.

It would be another decade for baseball to be on television more than just the Saturday Yankees game with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese (it was called the "Game of the Week," but it was mostly the Bronx Bombers as I remember). And, that is a far cry from my Extra Innings package, that brings me just about every game, every day of the season.

I guess the bottom line is that change is not only necessary, it is inevitable.

We may as well get used to it. Both Ben, and me. In fact all of us.

 

 

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