Why MLB’s greed-driven playoff plan is doomed to fail fans
It’s clear MLB remains under the spell of the Greek goddess Preposterous. The seductive twin sister of Ponzious, she controls the destiny of mortals blinded by greed, those who seek solutions by making bad worse.
This latest postseason scheme, as revealed by The Post’s Joel Sherman (and no doubt “confirmed” by ESPN), is another desperate MLB transparency:
Try to sustain maximum TV revenue through the continued erosion of standards. Try to stanch the bleeding from self-inflicted wounds that led to diminished TV audiences via previous, ill-advised artificial additives.
These proposed additives include Wheel of Fortune opponent-choosing likely to appear in an exclusive, up-for-auction TV show like LeBron James’ choice of his next team.
To oppose this 14-team, TV-money gimmick is not to be an old-fashioned traditionalist, but a modern realist.
Baseball is not football, not basketball. The worst teams in MLB can, have and will beat the best teams in two-, three- and four-game regular season stops. That has happened every season since the Dead Sea was just sick.
Consider that in 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series with the 14th best regular-season record. In 2011 the Cards won the Series with the ninth-best record.
In 2011, the Phillies, baseball’s best at 102-60 — a team record for wins — were out after losing a five-game opening series to the Cards.
Now MLB apparently wants more artificial stimulants like steroids, purloined signals and barely batted baseballs that suspiciously don’t descend until spotted by air traffic controllers.
So now let’s play 162 regular-season games per team, a total of 2,430, to whittle it down to 14 teams?
There are no such things as postseason mismatches. No greater baseball expert and soothsayer than the Mike Francesa, before the 2006 Tigers-Yankees playoff series, huffed and puffed to conclude:
“I’ll tell you this: This is the easiest Round 1 opponent the Yanks have had in the Joe Torre Era. You could not have a duck in front of you, on one leg, worse than this Tiger team.”
The one-legged Detroit Ducks won the best of-five in four. Then swept the A’s in four before losing to the Cards in the Series.
Regardless, MLB is primed to add more fabricated late-season and postseason “excitement” and “must-see” TV by further diminishing standards to play in the World Series, the ends of its games too late for more than half the nation’s population to actually see.
(You didn’t see the ends of all those late Sunday night Red Sox-Yankees games? Who cares? ESPN’s checks cleared.)
And those who can’t help but see through this nonsense risk ridicule as “purists” because they still presume that the World Series should require that the season’s best play the season’s best, or at least something reasonably, logically close.
If you inspect the significant changes to MLB in the Bud Selig and now Rob Manfred eras, it’s difficult to find one designed to benefit the sport rather than teams’ bottom lines — and at The Game’s and its fans’ expense.
Hall of Famer Selig, in money-first silent confederation with the MLBPA, allowed players to become so infested with record-busting, drug-swollen sluggers they were dragged before Congress to further, under oath, skirt the truth through the inability to remember or in the case of Sammy Sosa forget he could speak English.
Interleague play, introduced by Selig as “a gift to fans,” was a con. It was a gift to team owners who immediately jacked up ticket prices for same-region interleague games.
Under Manfred, games have grown interminable through the addition of replay-rule challenges overwhelmingly used as never intended, wanted or needed. Then there’s the new home runs or strikeouts epidemic that has led to yawning broken records in both categories, often explained as “analytics.”
The games are additionally stretched beyond indulgence by managers adhering to dopey scripts that call for expensive starters to rarely earn their millions as they’re pulled, often for no good reason, after five or six innings.
Next, those starters are replaced by relievers yanked after, at most, one inning of effective pitching until one manager selects the pitcher to lose the game. For better or worse — often with in-season replacements — those are called “closers.”
Three hours, 45 minutes, 23 strikeouts, nine hits, 13 pitchers. And two- and three-hour weather delays are no longer uncommon. Thank you, come again!
Now there’s a team scandal such as the still unraveling world champion Astros’ caper. They were tipped to pitches as relayed by in-house video espionage.
It’s not that this new playoff plan lacks foresight, such as the totally unintended use of replay. It’s more a case of not caring what happens to The Game in exchange for short-term TV money to further feed the diminished state of a sport rotting from the inside out.
But Manfred wants kids to act like conceited creeps — pose and flip their bats — rather than run to first. That, and the automatic intentional pass and 14-team postseason, are how to cure baseball.
MSG goes all-in on Pan’ cam
TV folks still believe we’re better than they. We can watch two things at once. But we can’t anymore than they can!
Throughout Rangers-Sabres last Friday, MSG determined the game appear live while focusing on Rangers top scorer Artemi Panarin. MSG split the screen for its “Panarin Spotlight Cam” when he was on ice and even when he wasn’t.
The impossible crashed early, as MSG split the screen to show Panarin, one leg over the boards, preparing to take the ice. Thus, depending on choice, one saw a live shot of Panarin watching Buffalo score the game’s first goal or a suddenly squeezed half-screen view of the goal.
“What a move by [Zemgus] Girgensons!” exclaimed Sam Rosen, fortunate to have seen the goal rather than Panarin watching it scored.
Undaunted, MSG stayed its course. Later in the first, Panarin, again in split-screen spotlight, took the puck, alone — suddenly, there it was on his stick! — then headed forward.
How’d the puck get there? For the answer you had to be watching the other side of the shrunken screen.
A Super price hike
Having scored “See Me!” on my math Regents, I’ll let mathematician/reader Andy from Matawan handle this, as per Fox’s Super Bowl graphic showing tickets rising from $15 to $2,500 in the past 50 years:
“How? A 10.8 percent increase per year compounded for 50 years. If you ever hear of any jobs that have 10.8 percent raises each year, please let me know before you put it in your column.”
Yeah, why should the Wilpons be the only ones to get in on all the impossibly good deals?