The times, they are a changin’
Just yesterday, we knew how everything was. But tomorrow is a different day.
Effective in 2013, the Houston Astros will join the American League West, balancing the AL and NL in Major League Baseball into two 15 team leagues, each with three 5 team divisions. Also, by 2013, the Postseason will feature an opening round wild card doubleheader, as two teams from each league will play in a win-or-go-home playoff game to move on.
What does all this mean? It means first place in the division is imperative. It means winning the wild card is not as hot as it once was. It means the landscape of baseball is changing, for better or worse, whether you want it to or not, real soon.
And I’m not a big fan of it all.
Sure, the Astros moving to the AL provides balance, but it also means that interleague play begins on Opening Day. It also means interleague play will be happening during the final day of the season. I’m not a fan of the final games of the season being played by interleague opponents. I’d much rather see the Yankees and Red Sox playing in the final game of the season for the AL East. Or, better yet, the Phillies and the Cardinals playing each other for the final Wild Card spot. But this possibility may not occur. Instead, we could have the Rays playing the Marlins in a game that might mean something for each of them, but nothing put together.
It also means that NL pitchers will suffer. Instead of being guaranteed an extra 2 strikeouts in almost every game of the season, except for those 2-3 weeks of interleague play, they’ll be faced with more games against an AL opponent and more games of less strikeouts. Of course, the opposite is true too. We’ll start to see a balancing of the leagues, most likely, and a better opportunity to compare AL pitchers to NL pitchers, and AL hitters to NL hitters.
This could mean increased competition. It could mean more overall interest.
But it also means a one-game playoff to begin the Postseason. And a one-game playoff is so not baseball.
Baseball is about the long haul. The struggle of an entire season, with ups and downs. It means a team is good over a breath of games, not just one. The 162 games each team plays means that not every game is important. A team can go hot and go cold. A one-game playoff means perfection for one game. It means being all or nothing. It means not being baseball.
And I’m not sure I’m going to like that.