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Sudden death...in baseball?Posted Friday, November 18, 2011, at 7:07 AM
Sudden death isn't typically a term that we think of when we talk baseball, but if MLB has it's way we need to get it into our vocabulary.
It was announced Thursday that the Major League Baseball owners voted to officially approve the sale of the Houston Astros. That sale, to Jim Crane, is going to have some interesting repercussions not just on the baseball season, but the playoffs as well.
First, one of the requirements for the sale is that the Houston Astros be moved to the American League. Officials have long expressed the desire to have the American and National Leagues be even at 15 teams each.
As a result of that move, that will take place in 2013, fans can expect interleague play throughout the year. Not only during the month of June, but all season long. By that I mean, literally, every day.
Second, following the completion of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), fans can likely expect a second Wild Card team in each league.
This is where the sudden death comes into play.
Beginning possibly as early as 2012, the two Wild Card teams will play a winner take all, one game playoff (hence the sudden death reference). The winner of that game will presumably play the team with the best record in their league, the same way it is handled currently.
Third, the scheduling of games will likely be simplified. By having 15 teams in each league, each team within a division will be playing the same schedule. This was likely the deciding factor in the decision to request the Astros move to the AL. The fairness throughout the schedule should help reduce the whining about who has a "tougher" season.
While in the beginning I wasn't excited about the realignment, after more consideration (and a lot of reading) I really think this will work to everyone's favor. The fact is, the current scheduling is a lot like a salad bowl. You're not really sure of everything that's in there, but you usually just chow down anyway and hope for the best. Baseball hasn't been much different.
I know a lot of people complain about interleague play and how it changes the dynamics for teams on both sides, but truthfully, I enjoy watching it. For me I see it as a chance to watch teams and players that I don't get to see very often. I love to watch the Cardinals and the Royals fight it out or maybe the Yankees and Mets. I know we get to see those games already, but I enjoy that and it's possible that with additional interleague action we might find a new rivalry once in a while.
Changes like this, while they can be a logistical mess for a short while, have a tendency to rejuvenate players, fans and even reporters. It means we have the chance to see something new and maybe even remember the reason we came to love this wonderful game in the first place.
That's something a lot of baseball beat writers and reporters could really use. While covering the World Series, I have to say it was kind of sad to see how many of the 3,000-plus media people in attendance felt like it was just a job. While it is a job, it's also important to remember how awesome it is to be paid to do what most people spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to do. I know as a member of the press it's not OK to jump up and cheer, but it is OK to sit back and reflect on the blessings in your life.
With all of that aside, I'm excited to see what the new changes, as well as the rest of the offseason, have to bring.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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