BY JOE PANTORNO
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the game’s players and fanatics up in arms again after the latest reported rule-change suggestion.
Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Manfred is set to table the idea of a complete postseason revamp that would feature an expansion from five teams to seven in each league.
The top American League and National League seed would get a bye into the Divisional Series while the following three seeds — the remaining two division winners and top wild card team — chose their Wild Card opponents in a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seed.
Needless to say, the idea has prompted plenty of backlash from those around the majors, most notably from Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who called Manfred “a joke.”
Manfred’s ideas have often had this reaction as he tries to find a way to “fix” baseball — a game that largely doesn’t need much repair but could use a few minor tweaks to ensure it keeps up with the more popular NBA and NFL.
The playoff overhaul is just the latest of proposed changes Manfred has floated out over the past few years, which included putting a runner at second base to start each extra inning during the regular season, eliminating defensive shifts, shrinking the strike zone, and limiting the number of pitching changes during a game.
Instead of messing with the strategy and the integrity of the game — including making its postseason more inclusive — there are a few changes the league should actually consider moving forward.
Most of it revolves around the regular season rather than the playoffs, whose format is just fine if you ask this writer.
Too often we’ve seen teams in weaker divisions benefit from playing a heavy slate against subpar opposition.
Just take a look at the Minnesota Twins, who won 101 games in an American League Central division that was the weakest in baseball.
Meanwhile, you have teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles who never have a glimmer of hope because they are in some of the league’s toughest divisions.
Disbanding divisions is the first step in promoting a uniform playing field for each league, but to complete the process, interleague play must be abandoned.
An American League team should never have a say in a National League playoff race during the regular season, which is something baseball had right for its first 120 years of existence.
This little 23-year experiment has been a novel idea, but the Mets shouldn’t be playing late-September games against the Texas Rangers in what is expected to be a tight NL East race.
In my proposed model, a team would play every other team in its league 11 times per year, creating a 154-game schedule that would ensure the regular season doesn’t have to start in March. The least MLB can do is spare the fans a couple of weeks of sitting out in freezing temperatures at the start of the season.
Then, the top five teams in each league make the playoffs and it’s decided by in-league matchups.
It makes the World Series that much more special as it will be the only time an American League team faces a National League opponent — bringing prestige back to what once was the largest championship event in North American sports.
This story first appeared on amny.com.