Carefully Expanding the Playoffs, Baseball Fared Better Than Other Sports, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Carefully Expanding the Playoffs, Baseball Fared Better Than Other Sports, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It’s gonna be wild when a bunch of MLB teams drop their absolute worst news tonight at 8 pm …

I joke, but in all seriousness (1) it’s going to be very, very easy for the world at large to miss “big” sports news over the next few days, because the rest of the news world is going to be a zoo of election and post-election coverage, and (2) the election is very important, and deserves a great deal of attention. Vote if you haven’t yet and if you desire to do so. We probably won’t say too much about the election around here except where it impacts sports – presumably the primary way would be uncertainty and pandemic response, but those things are not likely to play out in the immediate wake of the election. So, that is to say, yeah, we’re aware there’s a monumental story going on in the world. But our primary role here is sports.

•   If you missed the awards announcements last night, Yu Darvish is indeed a finalist for the Cy Young, and David Ross is a finalist for Manager of the Year.

•   Commissioner Manfred continues to believe expanded playoffs are the long-term future for baseball, though clearly not as many as 16 teams. He tells SBJ, “The expanded playoffs I thought were fantastic for the sport. I think the two-out-of-three series, where we gave our fans a bracket and had baseball around the clock, were really good for us. Sixteen, too many teams going forward. But there is a lot of room between 10 and 16. That room gives you the flexibility to structure the playoff system in a way that preserves the significance of the regular season and gives teams an incentive to play hard all the way through.”

•   I generally agree with all of that, and it’s a time when it does sound like Manfred gets the important factors in the decision: you want as many teams (and fan bases) as possible still in the race into August and September, you want teams to be properly incentivized to “go for it” as many years as possible (avoid tanking), and you want to preserve the importance of the regular season. That last one is where the league and players will have to be very, very thoughtful on the number of teams and the structure of the postseason. There needs to be, in my opinion, a strong incentive to win your division, and a strong incentive to finish with the best record in the league.

•   As for the three-game series that Manfred really liked, may I offer a suggestion? Do what some other international leagues do: for the teams that have, say, won their division but didn’t secure a first-round bye, you set up their opening series in an uneven way like this: that better team need win only one (or two) games to move on, while their lower-seeded opponent needs to win two (or three) games.

•   Relatedly, a reminder: none of this is in place for 2021, even though it could fundamentally impact roster moves this offseason. Without knowing the postseason structure – heck, without knowing the rules or even the length of the regular season – it’s hard to imagine a furiously fast-moving early part of the offseason.

•   Projectors, coffee makers, toothbrushes, furniture, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   More on the state of the sport as far as TV viewing went this year, providing more context for how it was bad and also not bad:

•   The short version is just that people were, by and large, consuming other entertainment that wasn’t sports. That’s been a trend for a long time, but it got hit with steroids this year because of the pandemic and the election. And interestingly, one of the few segments that actually saw ratings growth this year? Regular season baseball on regional sports networks, which was up 4%.

•   I love Willson Contreras:

•   This was last night, or early this morning depending on your time zone, and I also want to share this view because it really highlights just how much Kris Bryant slipped:

•   The NFL Trade Deadline is today at 3pm CT, so stay tuned over at our Bears coverage to see if they address the monstrously, ridiculously, embarrassingly large hole(s) on the offensive line. And please give us a like on Facebook by smacking this button:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.