Isn’t baseball meant to be played every day? You wouldn’t think so based on Major League Baseball’s postseason schedule.

If this were 2006, tonight would feature game three of the World Series. Instead, despite it being late October, we are still over a week away from the start of the Fall Classic thanks to MLB’s television contracts with Fox and TBS.

Beginning in 2007, MLB agreed to move the start of the World Series from the Saturday after the League Championship Series to the following Wednesday to increase television ratings. The logic behind the move was that the public would be more inclined to watch the series if the first game were not held on a Saturday, the worst night of the week for television viewing.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with changing the start of the World Series from Saturday to Wednesday – there is nothing sacred about beginning on a Saturday – the change has negatively affected the way the entire postseason is played.

To accommodate starting the Fall Classic four days later, MLB has added more off-days to each postseason series beyond the traditional travel days. Instead of beginning the division series almost immediately after the conclusion of the regular season, teams now have two or three days off before their first postseason game.

And instead of playing over a six- or seven-day span, the best-of-five series now feature two or three off-days. Similarly, an extra off-day has been added between games four and five of the League Championship Series even though both games are played in the same city.

While MLB cited the two rain-outs in the 2006 Mets-Cardinals NLCS as the reason for the added off-day, game seven of that series was still played on its originally scheduled date.

The real reason for the change was that MLB needed another off-day to justify delaying the start of the World Series.

For a sport that plays 162 games over a 182-day span, all of these extra off-days artificially change the strategies and rhythm for these postseason contests. Most notably, the extra off-days have reduced the team aspect of baseball by placing increased ownership of a team’s success on the backs of their top pitchers, who are now available to pitch every crucial game.

In previous postseasons, managers had to decide if they would use their top three starters on short rest or implement a four-man rotation to give their pitchers normal rest. Now, thanks to the elongated schedule, teams are able pitch their top starters more often and on regular rest.

Take Yankees Manager Joe Girardi’s decision-making process for his pitching rotation for the division series against the Twins. Even though the Yankees swept the Twins in three games, Girardi could have used just his top three starters – CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte – on full rest throughout the series due to the extra off-days, a clear advantage for a team wishing to hide its fourth starter – journeyman Chad Gaudin.

But besides changing the pitching dynamics within series, the gaps between each level of the postseason have also allowed managers to arrange their rotations to their exact liking. With five days between the ends of both American League Division Series, Girardi and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia were both able to align their rotations so their aces, Sabathia and John Lackey, respectively, are available to pitch games one, four and seven.

In addition to altering the way managers juggle their rotations, the tempo of the postseason has largely been lost. Instead of playing almost every day, as teams do in the regular season, these playoffs have been fraught with so many breaks that the series have lacked any momentum or rhythm.

In the 16 days following the conclusion of the regular season, the Yankees and Angels have played six games each, the Dodgers seven and the Phillies eight. This is not the type of schedule baseball teams are accustomed to playing.

Even with the extra days off, the World Series still did not have to extend this deep into the fall. MLB’s decision to extend spring training to accommodate the World Baseball Classic forced the season to start on April 5 – a week later than usual – bumping the start of the postseason to the second week of October.

Playing later and later only increases the likelihood of encountering nasty weather unsuitable for baseball. Already this postseason we have seen a game snowed out in Colorado and ridiculously cold, rainy weather for games at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Besides forcing fans to brave miserable conditions, the inclement weather undoubtedly changes how teams play. Slick surfaces naturally make it more difficult for teams to steal bases, and cold weather makes it harder for pitchers to get a good grip on their curveballs. While playing earlier does not guarantee fair weather, it certainly decreases the chances of playing in conditions that compromise the way the game is played.

Postseason baseball is inherently different than regular season play with the added pressure to win each game. But by spacing postseason games so far apart and playing games in less-than-ideal baseball weather, October and November baseball is becoming almost unrecognizable from the games of our summers.

Despite all the changes, postseason baseball is still the best. The drama that extra-innings games provide cannot be matched by any other sport.

But MLB must be careful in catering to the Foxes of the world to make sure the integrity of postseason baseball is not lost.

Nick Macri is a junior in the College. The Big Picture appears in every other Tuesday issue of Hoya Sports.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.