To a purist's admission, MLB got it right
Posted October 19, 2012
As baseball fans go, I probably fit in to the "purist" sub-category.
I don't like Inter-league play, or the wild card. I'm not terribly enthused with the DH; the six-division format isn't my favorite. I really, really dislike the one-game wildcard playoff, and don't get me started on next year's plan for two 15-team leagues.
But despite my desire to turn the clock back to the early 1990's, I have to admit the changes MLB has made over the last 15 years have helped the game.
With the additional wild card keeping more teams in the hunt this season, baseball's attendance figures were the best since 2008. That probably signals a strengthening economy, but I think it has just as much to do with overall fan interest.
Teams like Baltimore (+21 percent), Washington (+20) and Oakland (+12) posted dramatic increases in attendance - and I don't think it's a quantum leap in judgement to suggest this comes as a direct result of their play.
The bottom line is more fans have had more reasons to stay interested.
The extra division and wild-cards have made post-season play a possibility for more teams, and life is much better for a fan with a reason to keep watching. Fans of the Dodgers, Rays, Brewers, etc... were able to stay engaged with their teams late into the season. And few teams were totally out of the playoff picture going in to September.
I admit defeat, and applaud MLB's forward thinking.
Most of these changes came as a direct result of the 1994 strike - the implosion which canceled a World Series. Here's hoping the NHL can take a few pointers...