Split season, anyone?
The second half of the MLB season begins with 13 teams at least 12.5 games out of first place in their division.
Seven of those teams are at least 17.5 games out. Five of the teams sit at least 20 games out.
NFL training camps open in two weeks. Kids will head back to school in just over a month.
Hey, Baltimore, Seattle, Kansas City and other franchises far removed from the playoff picture, how are those second half attendance projections looking?
So what can MLB do to maintain fan interest in cities where their teams are hopelessly out of the playoff picture?
Why not do what most of the minor leagues do and have done for years? Play a split season. Do a reset of the standings at the All-Star break.
Give a playoff spot to the best first half teams. Let the others have another crack at it. Talk about giving new life to teams hopelessly out of the race.
Teams that suffered poor starts to the season and/or were decimated by injuries.
Think of what it would mean to fans and their interest in watching, listening and attending games through July, August and September.
Imagine being an Orioles fan and seeing your team's 30 game deficit wiped out to start the second half. Same in Kansas City for the Royals 27 games deficit and in Detroit for the 26 game deficit facing the Tigers.
Split the season and MLB could have two trade deadlines, one approaching the All-Star break and one approaching the final month of the season.
Double the deadline drama!
A split season would cut down on 'tanking' and 'fire sales'. Heck, wouldn't a split season would make teams more inclined to call-up their top prospects, rather than park them in the minors and manipulate service time?
How would a Split Season plan work? There are multiple versions as possibilities, such as:
The teams that win the division in each half automatically quality for the end of season playoffs.
If the same team wins their division in both halves of the season, the second playoff spot for that division would be awarded to the team with the best overall record. That prevents 1981 happening again, when MLB split the season due to the midseason strike. The Reds had the best overall record in MLB but failed to win their division in either half and were left out of the playoffs.
The first round of the playoffs would feature the first half winner from each division facing the second half winner from their respective division in a best of three or best of five series.
I'll ask what I always ask: What's the downside?
To be determined: How to handle home field advantage, Wild Card teams (assuming they aren't eliminated) and three division play and an odd number of playoff series winners.
Maybe MLB eventually expands by two franchises and goes to four divisions of four teams in each league with no Wild Card spots. Each division has an opening round series with winners advancing.
Maybe MLB goes to two 15-team leagues. The first and second half winners earn the top seeds in each league. A team winning both halves would earn the No. 1 seed. The second best team in the second half earns the No. 2 seed. The playoff field would be rounded out with the next three best overall records. The No. 4 and 5 seeds would be Wild Card teams that face off in an opening mini-series.
Any potential hiccups that would exist in the plan would have to be outweighed by the impact of maintaining interest from fan bases in cities currently out of the playoff race and looking for other things to do the remainder of the summer.
We will discuss tonight at 7:05 on Sports Talk.