Baseball's regular season ended Sunday, so you might have expected to tune into sports radio the next morning and hear some analysis of the upcoming playoffs. How much will the absences of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier affect the Dodgers against Atlanta? How worried should Detroit fans be that Miguel Cabrera doesn't look healthy and the Tigers stopped scoring runs in September?
Well, you would have been disappointed. Madison has three stations dedicated to yakking about sports, and very little time was spent talking baseball Monday. Football is king, and Mondays in autumn are for recapping the games and outrages of the weekend in the only sport that seems to matter anymore. In the last half-hour of his show on WTSO, Dan Patrick did talk to Harold Reynolds of MLB Network, but somehow they spent half the segment discussing the Yankees and other topics that had nothing to do with the playoffs.
Baseball is well on its way to becoming a niche sport if it isn't there already, and its revised playoff structure doesn't help roll out the postseason with the bang it needs. Don't get me wrong; I like the concept behind the expanded wild-card system that began last year. Certainly it increases fan interest because more teams have a chance to keep playing into October, but eliminating two teams after an extra game apiece feels like a gimmick.
Take Pittsburgh, for example. The Pirates are the feel-good story of the year after posting their first winning season in more than two decades and earning a playoff berth to boot. Outside Cincinnati and St. Louis, almost everyone who cares about baseball is rooting for the Pirates, yet they could have been gone before the weekend.
Playing 162 games just to earn a single elimination game is silly. However, this is Major League Baseball, which has a rich history of fouling things up. We'd be foolish to expect a solution anytime soon.