By Ken Reed
Today, four wild card teams and their fans are celebrating that their teams made the MLB playoffs. That’s all fine and dandy but deciding which wild card teams advance based on a single game playoff, following a 162-game season, is a sad joke. The one-game playoff format makes it clear that commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB owners don’t understand what makes baseball different from football, basketball and hockey.
Baseball is a game that separates the top teams from the mediocre teams based on a six-month season played on nearly a daily basis. Five-man starting rotations, bullpen depth, and the quality of bench players who must step into the lineup when the inevitable injuries occur during the long season, determine the best teams. The World Series was designed to be a seven-game series (actually, the original World Series was a nine-game series) in order to determine the best team. The World Series shows us which team has the best starting pitching, bullpen, and bench. In a one-game playoff, one superstar pitcher can determine the outcome. A baseball season isn’t about having one superstar pitcher. It’s not like football, where the same superstar quarterback starts every game.
MLB clearly was driven by greed to expand the playoffs. More teams in the playoffs means more television revenue. Understoood. Get it. Don’t like it, but get it. But if you’re going to add teams to the playoffs, do it right, have a series. Baseball is great in seven-game playoff series. A seven-game series reveals a team’s strengths and weaknesses. It allows for managerial adjustments along the way. A five-game series dilutes that. A three-game series is worse. But each of those scenarios is superior to a one game playoff. One game to see who advances, after a 162-game season, is an abomination.
Baseball continues to sell its soul …
Fans of the losing wild-card playoff teams are going to be left to wonder, “Is that it? I emotionally invested myself in this team over 162 games, they make the playoffs, I celebrate, and then I get a one-and-done format?”
Sad, but true.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon