Major League Baseball has currently hit a crossroad. Bud Selig will no longer be the commissioner soon and there will be a new man to run the sport that was once the most popular game in America. It’s appeal is sliding, football is dominant, basketball is flying right by and even other sports are closing the gap. Many are wondering what can baseball do to improve it’s stock in our sports universe? While things are far from perfect in the sport, there is something that baseball does very well, and that is the playoffs.
I am not referring to the playoff system, nor the wild card, but the amount of teams that MLB has been able to get into the postseason. Put it this way, we are 20 years removed from the seemingly debilitating baseball strike of 1994. Since then 18 of the 30 Major League teams have made the World Series. In the group that hasn’t made it, include teams like Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Washington, Milwaukee, and the Dodgers. Also known as all of the current first place teams in 2014. Cincinnati, Minnesota and Toronto are three more of the missing 12 and just before the strike they combined to win all 4 of the Fall Classics before the strike.
The active longest droughts for the postseason belong to first place Kansas City (1985), Toronto Blue Jays (1993) and the Seattle Mariners (2001). If the playoffs started today, KC would be in and Toronto and Seattle are in the race to make it. Every other American League teams has made the playoffs at least once since 2001.
The National League has even better numbers. Every team has made the playoffs in the NL in the last decade with the exception of the Florida/Miami Marlins. Don’t feel badly for them though, because just 11 years ago they won the World Series and in 1997 they did it too.
So the point is baseball has flaws but it still is a beautiful game. We love it’s history, the history that tells us the Cubs NEVER make it. Yes and no. They did make the playoffs in 2008 but obviously that doesn’t cover for the fact that it has been over 100 years for them to win the whole thing. Seattle hasn’t been there, neither has Montreal/Washington but they have had their opportunities.
The new commish will think of ways to speed the game up, tinker with replay, inter-league dilemmas and more. I sure hope that while the popularity continues to shrink that the parity increases. Play ball.