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Bob Brookover: Stay or go? A verdict on each of baseball's new rule changes.

By Bob Brookover, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

The 2020 baseball season is going to end soon and the most popular response around here will likely be good riddance to bad rubbish. Credit will be due to whichever team wins the World Series, and actually both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays should be applauded for surviving the longest postseason in history.

For just the second time in this century and the fourth time since the playoffs expanded beyond four teams, the best two teams in each league reached the championship round, and there are a lot of reasons to believe the Dodgers and Rays would have retained that status even if it had been a standard 162-game season.

As difficult as it was to watch a season that had more COVID-19 outbreaks than fans, some of the changes made necessary by the pandemic actually made the game better and should remain in the future.

Let's take a look at what should stay and what should go.

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The expanded playoffs

 

The expansion of the postseason was a good idea, but it went too far. By expanding to eight teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros, both at 29-31, became the first teams in major-league history to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record, which might be commonplace in other sports but should be forbidden in a season that is typically 162 games.

If the 2019 season had eight playoff teams in each league, the Texas Rangers would have qualified with a 78-84 record, and it's just wrong to reward that kind of season with a shot to knock off the team with the best record in its league in a three-game series.

The better solution would be a six-team field with the two division winners with the best records getting a first-round bye while the division winner with the worst record gets to choose which of the three wild-card teams it wants to play. I like the idea of keeping the higher seed with the home field for all three games of the opening-round series.

I also like the idea of no days off during the division series and League Championship Series because it better emulates the regular season in terms of testing the depth of a pitching staff. The standard travel days off for the World Series are fine because baseball should stretch out its signature event.

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