If you do not know that the player above is Ronald Acuna, Jr., then the expansion of playoffs in Major League Baseball goes to underscore its real problem: Marketing of stars.
ESPN’s Buster Olney updated the baseball world via Twitter that the expanded playoff proposal would include the top three seeds in each league (division winners) picking their opponents during a selection show.
Twitter’s reaction hasn’t been kind to the news and the idea feels like a cheap way to avoid Major League Baseball’s true failure.
With young standouts like Acuna Jr., Cody Bellinger, and Mike Trout playing in major media markets, Major League Baseball has done nothing to make them household names around the country. Fans looking to watch their favorite teams are met with blackout regulations, while the baseball TV package remains outrageously inconvenient. Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be committed to find trivial ways to grow the game, rather than addressing the obvious.
Major League Baseball’s ratings have slowly declined, largely to the commissioner remaining tone deaf over what needs changing. Manfred needs to worry about why the average fan outside South Chicago isn’t already excited about Luis Roberts or Nick Madrigal.
Expanding MLB’s playoffs will be exciting for a few moments, but feels like a gimmick to get casual sports fans to flip to ESPN for 30 minutes. Baseball can rebuild their base and ratings by simply putting in the work to make the sport more accessible to millennials. Less blackouts, less Twitter video regulations, more “mic’d up” stars, and better TV packages.
Having the division winners pick their opponents during a TV special feels like they’re voting for prom king. Baseball only has until 4 p.m pacific to decide against turning the sport into a circus.