When I was a kid, baseball was pretty simple. There were two leagues: The American League and the National League. There were nine players on each side. Each player played a position and also batted. American League teams only played American League teams and National League Teams only played National League teams during the regular season. The regular season ran from April to September. The number one team in each league was designated as the winner of that league’s pennant. Then there was the World Series, where the number one team in the American League played the number one team in the National League.

Over time, more teams got added to each league. When it got to twelve teams in each league the leagues split into two divisions: East and West. This was the beginning of the concept of playoffs. It was a change, but still not very complicated. The number one team in each division was designated the Division winner. Then they would play each other for the right to be deemed that league’s pennant winner. Note that the pennant winner would not necessarily be the team in the league with the best record for the season. The playoff/pennant winner would go on to play the winner of the pennant in the other league in the World Series. The result of all these extra games was that sometimes the team with the best record in a league might not actually get to play in the World Series. I think this is when I started losing interest.

I really didn’t follow very closely again until this past season. It was a bit challenging to figure out what was going on because the rules kept changing (a few more recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic). Some of the changes have been:

The American League added a tenth player, while the National League stayed with nine. (I was still sort-of paying attention when this happened.) The tenth player was called the designated hitter, and he would split his role with the pitcher, who no longer had the opportunity to bat. In my opinion, this took away from the game. Most pitchers were not very good hitters, and that added to the strategy of the game and, in my opinion, made it more exiting when a pitcher would bunt to try to move a runner from first to second, or actually get a hit.

There are now three divisions in each league and a myriad of games once the official season ends before we get to determining who the Pennant winners are in each division in order to finally get to the World Series. It seems way too complicated. Somehow there first are things called wild card games, where the four teams with the almost-best records first play each other in several rounds and the ultimate winner of the wild-card games gets to be the fourth team to be in the playoffs — which eventually results in determining who will be the Pennant winner in each league and advance to the world series. But wait! There is an added complication. If there is a tie somewhere in the group of second-tier teams, there’s an extra wild-card game to determine which one gets to play in the regular wild-card games. After all these extra wacky wild-card and playoff games, the best team in each league may not actually be the ones that play in the World Series. That doesn’t seem quite right.

There are a number of interleague games during the year, in addition to all the games that teams are supposed to be playing in their own league.

The baseball season has gotten so long now that it is possible to have the World Series finish in November!

Then there are the rules of the games themselves during the regular season. Some of the changes I observed (and there are probably some I missed) are:

There is now the option to ask for someone in a remote location to review a play and determine if an umpire made the correct call. We never get to know who this mysterious person is (or are, if more than one person is doing this review). One of the umpires has a headset and eventually someone tells him the decision and he announces it.

The manager can no longer take out a pitcher when he thinks that is the right decision. He is now hobbled with rules about how many batters the pitcher must pitch to before the manager can change pitchers.

In an effort to shorten games when they go extra innings, each team gets a runner at second base at the beginning of each extra inning. Also, double-header games are seven inning games (not counting any extra innings) rather than nine inning games.

I suspect there are other changes that I either didn’t notice or can’t think of as I am writing this.

To me, baseball has gotten way too complicated and I really don’t like many of these changes. Keep it simple: Each division winner gets to be designated the division winner. The team with the best record in each league gets to be the league champion (aka pennant winner). That team plays in the World Series. Also, go back to all games being regulation nine innings, let the manager manage, and get rid of putting a runner on second base if the game goes extra innings. The only thing I would keep is the instant replay – but take the process out of hiding. Let the umpires at the game review the various camera angles and jointly decide if they want to override the initial call.