Six years ago on Thursday, Boston awoke to its first World Series championship since 1918. Red Sox Nation stumbled through the day in a sleep-deprived delirium, lining up for coffee on a sunny Thursday morning and hearing the first rumors of a “rolling rally” with duck boats.
The World Series ended on Oct. 27 that year, with four days to prepare for Halloween.
In 2010, the World Series began on Oct. 27, with the Giants stunning Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers with a win by the Bay. They’ll need to sweep Texas for this series to end before November. One win by Nolan Ryan’s gang will ensure they’re playing baseball in the 11th month of the year.
The boys of summer now play deep into the fall. At least some of them do. This brings us to this week’s latest baseball rumor — talk of an expanded playoff format in the next round of collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Yes, baseball owners want more of a good thing. An expanded playoff field means more cities caught up in a September race, more fans flocking to the gate, more television viewers checking out the game. This year, the Red Sox would’ve made it to the postseason for the seventh time in eight years if Bud Selig would’ve just allowed one more team in each league to qualify.
Of course, there is absolutely no consensus as to what this expanded round of baseball playoffs should look like. Should one more wild-card team get in and play a short series with the league’s other wild card? How short should that series be? One game? Three games? Will there be bye rounds for division winners? How long will they have to wait?
For those who want a bigger playoff field, these questions are just details to be worked out. Playoff teams make more revenue and bring more excitement to the game. Purists complained about the wild card back in 1995. Now, we can’t imagine baseball without it.
We also can’t imagine baseball going any deeper into autumn than it does now, and it’s hard to believe owners would be willing to shorten the regular season to make this happen. They’re looking for more money via the postseason, not less money because of fewer regular-season tickets sold.
So the answer will be baseball on Thanksgiving. Watch the Fall Classic before settling into an NFL triple-header. Or just give into the popularity of football altogether, and have the World Series be a one-game, neutral-site game in December. Call it the Doubleday Bowl and have marching bands come out on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.
Or follow the lead of the NBA, which got the season off to massive ratings with Tuesday night’s Celtics-Heat game. Have 16 teams make the playoffs, and let the postseason roll on for 10 weeks.
The World Series winner can have its own rolling rally, a parade that takes them straight to Florida or Arizona for the start of spring training.
I’m from Maine, where we like to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The baseball postseason ain’t broke right now. Adding more teams to the mix might just kill the gold playoff goose.
After all, these playoffs already have gone on long enough, haven’t they?
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