MLB Introduces ‘Sudden Death Day’

After exciting playoff races on the season’s final day in years past, Major League Baseball is capitalizing on the idea

With Major League Baseball's decision to make all games on the season's final day the same time, playoff races similar to the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals' will be much more interesting (Getty Images)

With Major League Baseball’s decision to make all games on the season’s final day the same time, playoff races similar to the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals’ will be much more interesting (Getty Images)

Written by Jake Elman

Rob Manfred has only officially held the commissioner’s title for about two months, but the New York native just keeps coming up with ways to improve the game. First, Manfred added the pace of play rules, and now, Manfred is adding some excitement to September baseball.

As first reported by Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times, Major League Baseball has decided to schedule all of the games on October 4th, the season’s final day, at the same exact time: 3 P.M. Eastern. This idea, according to Major League Baseball, will add excitement and intensity on a day that was otherwise normally forgettable:

“If a game impacts another game, they’re all occurring at the same time, so no team would be put into a lame-duck situation because their fate already had been decided by an earlier result,” said Tony Pettiti, first year MLB chief operating officer and former head of MLB Network. “If we do have games coming down to the wire, we want to make sure we maximize that day.”

This is an excellent idea, and as a big fan of the baseball playoff race, I’m excited to see how it works out. I’ve been wanting a concept like this for a few years now, probably since we saw the excitement of the final day of the 2011 season, and to see it become a reality is something that I think all baseball fans will appreciate.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, Major League Baseball has needed to hype some of the game’s bigger events, whether it be the season’s final day or the World Series. Putting all of the games at the same time is a way to get people excited about not just the playoff races, but also the postseason as a whole. You have this day, followed by the Wild Card games, and then the division series starting all in the same week? That’s as exciting as it gets in the world of baseball.

With all games starting at the same time on the last day, this increases pressure and also factors into how a team might approach the postseason. In previous years, a team who had a 4:15 start compared to a team that started play at 1:30 might have changed around the lineup or scratched the starter because of how the early game turned out, but having them all at the same time means that the star player who you really wanted to rest might need to be in that starting lineup; the pitcher who might have opened up the postseason for you is instead starting for you in game 162, with that prospect who was originally your starter hanging out in the bullpen.

That same situation is what happened to the St. Louis Cardinals a year ago; when the Pittsburgh Pirates lost on the season’s final day last year, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny rested several players, including starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who would then start the first game of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. If both teams had played at the same time last year, Matheny likely would have started Wainwright instead of midseason trade acquisition Justin Masterson.

Also, think of how this helps with ratings. As it stands right now, the only game we know that is going to be played in NFL week four, which is October 4th, is Jets-Dolphins in London, and that’s at 9:30 AM ET in the morning. By scheduling all of these games at 3 PM ET, Major League Baseball is going to have legitimate contention with the NFL on a weekend that, most likely knowing the NFL, will feature some damn good games.

Now, all Major League Baseball needs is a creative name for the season’s final day. Now, because I’m not creative, I like the name of ‘Sudden Death Day’ as the title; it’s short, to the point, and there’s a slight alliteration in it. I’m interested in hearing other names for this, so make sure to either leave them in a comment or send them to me on Twitter.

If you’re interested in seeing what games will take place on the season’s final day, take a look below.

FinalBaseballDay2015

Out of fifteen games on the final day, twelve of them are divisional games, which only helps to make ‘Sudden Death Day’ more exciting. Of those games, I’d have to think that Yankees-Orioles, Tigers-White Sox, Athletics-Mariners, Padres-Dodgers, and Reds-Pirates could all be games that help factor into their respective divisions, while Red Sox-Indians and Cardinals-Braves immediately stand out as interesting games on paper.

How excited are you for ‘Sudden Death Day’? What name would you even call the season’s final day if you don’t like my suggestion of ‘Sudden Death Day’? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by tweeting me at @JakeElman

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