<i>Basabool</i> as we've known it, is over!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Basabool as we've known it, is over!

The 2012 Major League Baseball regular season concluded last evening, and while few have realized it, the game going forward will be forever changed.

The Horsehide Powers That Be, the 30 owners, have in their dubious wisdon, earlier this year decided that their product is no longer the Great American Pastime, and that if they were to be financially competitive with the Pigskin Powers, a wholesale overhaul was needed.

I didn't mind the balanced expansions to 20 teams in 1961 and 1962, or even 24 teams in 1969 which necessitated dividing each league into two six-team divisions which gave us for the first time ever scheduled post-season games other than the World Serious.

I've seen the incremental deterioration of the game for years: the American League's adoption in 1973 of Rule 6.10 (the Designated Hitter), further expansion in 1994 (with each league being realigned into three, East, Central and West, divisions) and again in 1998 to bring the total number of teams to 30, 14 in the American and 16 in the National.

(This also required the Milwaukee Brewers, née Seattle Pilots, to shift to the National League.)

MLB's Interleague Play Logo

Another significant change also occurred in '98 when in-season interleague play was introduced, ostensibly to enhance regional rival­ries... i.e., Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-Angels, Athletics-Giants, Cubs-White Sox, Rangers-Astros, Cardinals-Royals, Marlins-Rays, Blue Jays-Expos... now shifted to Nationals-Orioles... and so forth

Attendance figures from these interleague matchups have consistently showed a modest bottom-line up-tick, so the owners have been congratulating themselves on taking that step.

This post season... starting tomorrow... more watering down of a proven product takes hold as the expanded Wild Card teams play one another, and if the owners continue along this path Major League Baseball will start looking like the NBA and, if it ever drops another puck, the NHL, with more post-season qualifiers than also-rans.

Next year they will be taking a huge step when the Houston Astros, who lost a franchise-record 107 games this year, will move from the NL Central Division to the AL West, leaving each league with the same, albeit uneven, number of teams in three divisions of five teams each.

Yes, all teams will have a more balanced schedule, but it will also mean that interleague play will be happening every day of the 2013 season... and what would be "special" about that!

It will also require an entirely different approach to the one thing that is nearest and dearest to every true fan's heart: statistical records.

But that's a discussion for a different entry.

Just know that that game is going to be different from the moment of Opening Day next year, and the view from this bleachers seat, it won't be for the better.

(To be continued in an on-going series)

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