Saturday, September 7, 2013

Some MLB Games Are More Equal Than Others

And for all the little piggies...
"You have all of these players up now, you can do a lot of things." - Phillies color analyst Chris Wheeler in the 8th inning of tonight's game against Atlanta

Here's a question that never gets asked: why, exactly, does baseball arbitrarily change the rules on roster size in September?

You don't see the NFL adding the practice squad for no good reason in December. Or NBA teams adding the D-leaguers in April. Only MLB decides to allow for Amateur Hour during the last 15% of the regular season.

I get why they do it. MLB teams pay hundreds of minor leaguers to play for less than the regular season calendar; you might as well get something from them. The last portion of the season, especially for teams that are out of contention, is all about finding out about players who might be ready for the Show next year. I'm fine with all of that. (The reason why NBA teams don't play D-Leaguers is because no NBA team regularly goes past the 8th or 9th man in the rotation, so having extra bodies doesn't really help. Parity in the NFL means that most teams are in some form of playoff contention late, even in December. Anyway.)

However, it's still more than a little odd that the best way to build a roster for the playoff crapshoot -- dominant starting pitching or position players that can succeed against those men, which is usually something you've got to pay for in a big way at a star level, assuming you haven't grown your own and it's still young and cheap -- is more or less downgraded in September, when you can just send waves of platoon edge guys from your farm teams, steal a base or play defense in the late innings. Not that it really makes for a way to win games, but still.

And then in October, after having them around for a month, the scrubs go away again, and we go back to the game as it was for rest of the year.

There is, of course, no way this is going to change, other than my source for all happiness, which would be Relegation. That would eliminate the hundreds of MLB personnel, and take teams down to a single expanded roster of ownership. I also don't suspect that the roster expansion has ever really changed a pennant race, and it's not a terrible thing that a bunch of guys got to experience the Show, and gets a little time in for the pension plan.

But if it stopped being this way, like preseason football, no one would ever miss it, and we'd never go back to it.

(By the way, the Phillies game ended with Freddie Galvis hitting a no-doubt walk-off homer against Freddy Garcia, somehow in there for the Braves, after Jonathan Papelbon blew the save. At least it gave a bunch of scrubs the opportunity to bomb the field reporter and Galvis with shaving cream. Probably as treasured, to them, as the days on the pension plan...)

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