The following is an email from my boy Lee(tch) in response to Friday's post, The Almighty Dollar:
"The problem with baseball (and I mean problem because clearly everyone notices it yet no one who actually has a say wants to do anything about it) is that year in and year out it is run mainly by two baseball clubs who battle it out to see who can outdo each other in payroll spending. MLB's refusal to even entertain an idea of a salary cap goes way beyond logic in terms of keeping the sport competitive to all teams, and will only mean our Toronto Blue Jays will probably be battling for the Wild Card position for years to come."The fix to all of this? Simple, (one would think!) expand the freaking playoffs system to be on par with all the other major professional sports in North America and take out Interleague play. Yes, it's that simple. I know baseball purists will argue against this and say it goes against tradition but while you sit your fat lazy ass on the couch and drink your beer all in the name of tradition, consider this: baseball is a declining sport in terms of reaching out to new viewers and I can't blame them if you pretty much know your team is out of any playoff contention by mid-June."Make the sport more appealing to the casual fan so they can't complain about our team only spent X gazillions of dollars this year but it still wasn't enough to match the Yankees who spent 10X gazillions trillions of dollars. Time for a change eyebleaf. Yes we can."
My man makes some good points. MLB "attendance is down about five percent this year." Back in May, The Wall Street Journal reported that baseball is "Mired in a Mysterious Ratings Slump." (To be fair, MLB reported in June that "Baseball's TV ratings holding steady.") The bottom line: fewer gate receipts, and zero growth on television (regardless of who you believe).
Yet I don't see a change to the playoff format on the horizon. I don't believe a mainstream discussion on the topic is even taking place. Lee(tch) is right: the playoffs (!!1) are a sport's showcase. In a season so long, more teams invited to the dance would undoubtedly increase attention.
Playoff revenue is where it's at. It's the old adage: "It takes money to make money." Right now, in a market with little regulation, the path to said playoff revenue is clear: spend. A team in the top 10 in payroll greatly increases its chances to qualify for the postseason. And because baseball doesn't allow for the trading of draft picks, the rich clubs are assured, too, of developing their own homegrown talent. The team on the field isn't the only product of greater resources; the scouting department is as well.
While it may not be on the horizon at the moment, economic reform - a ceiling and floor on team payroll - will come to baseball. It's a matter of when, not if.
A couple of folks had issues with the comments section last week, and that ain't right. I appreciate any and all discussion so, with that in mind, we've switched back to the tried, tested, and true pop-up window format. Let the commentary flow freely.
And remember, you can holla on Twitter at: twitter.com/eyebleaf