Athletics

How A's could benefit from possible future changes to MLB postseason

How A's could benefit from possible future changes to MLB postseason

Whoo boy ... OK, here we go.

In what would be adding to an already interesting and headline-filled offseason for Major League Baseball, the league might be looking to make more changes in the near future. This time, to the postseason.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman reported an expansion could see an increase from five to seven playoff teams per league beginning in 2022. 

If this were to come to fruition, the team with the best record in each league would then get a bye to avoid the wild-card round and go straight to the division series. 

The wild-card round would get a facelift as well with a best-of-three series. This is great news for the A's who historically struggle with the one-and-done scenario that haunts them year after year. 

Here's another interesting addition that appears to add an entertainment factor to it all: The division winner with the second-best record in either the AL or NL would get the first pick of its opponent from the three wild-card teams. The other division winner would pick, which would leave the last two wild cards to play one another.

This pick 'em show would be televised on the Sunday night the regular season ends which, as Sherman describes, is a way to bring in possible TV partnerships.

Naturally, money is going to be one of the factors here.

If you work in sports television, which perhaps you do, or perhaps you don't, the playoffs in any sporting event turn into a huge opportunity for sponsorships. Take a look at any backstop of a World Series, or listen to any commentator add a note prior to the game -- it's sponsored. 

This is beneficial beyond just the games, however. Each segment from batting practice during the Fall Classic or to games leading up to the World Series could add to the hype and lead to more monetary value to that piece of content. 

Sherman raises a great point saying the potential for more teams making the playoffs could actually fill seats with teams vying for October baseball.

For the A's, the AL Wild-Card game last season broke an attendance record in a stadium that once had third baseman Matt Chapman asking for more fans to come out and watch them play. And yes, the fans are coming out more as attendance has gone up slightly at the Coliseum in recent years.

[RELATED: Why A's wild-card loss to Rays stings Manaea months later]

But the boost could help across the entire league.

Still, there are more pressing issues the league needs to address. Minor league salaries, or lack thereof, should be first on the MLB's list.

MLB rumors: A's expected to sign prospect Pedro Pineda for $4M or more

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AP

MLB rumors: A's expected to sign prospect Pedro Pineda for $4M or more

The A's aren't known for handing out large contracts and could have some tough free-agency decisions to make on Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson in the coming years.

But the A's are expected to make a splash on the international market. While MLB's season continues to be on hiatus with the coronavirus pandemic, the signing period still is scheduled to open on July 2 but the league does have the ability to delay the start date until Jan. 15, 2021. 

Baseball America's Ben Badler reported Monday that the A's are likely to hand out the largest J2 international contract this year. Oakland is expected to sign outfielder Pedro Pineda out of the Dominican Republic for more than $4 million. 

Pineda, 16, already is listed at 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. Here's how Badler describes Pineda's skill set: "He's a strong, athletic, physical center fielder with a loud tool set and a power/speed threat. He's a center fielder with excellent speed, a fast bat and the power potential to hit 25-plus home runs."

Here's a video of Pineda hitting and wearing A's gear last month.

Baseball America also has a longer video of Pineda launching homers.

[RELATED: Stewart addresses how short MLB season will affect players]

The A's signed shortstop Robert Pauson, MLB.com's No. 2 international prospect for 2019, to a $5.1 million contract last July. Pauson, 17, already is ranked as the A's No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He sits behind just Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy, all of whom made their big league debuts last year.

The A's can only hope Pineda has as much talent as Pauson. Both players should add to Oakland's top-heavy farm system.

Why Tony La Russa believes 1989 A's are best Bay Area team ever assembled

Why Tony La Russa believes 1989 A's are best Bay Area team ever assembled

The 1989 A’s were something special.

They were crowned World Series champions after defeating the Giants in four games that bookended the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake. Oakland also finished the regular season with a 99-63 record. And for Tony La Russa, the team’s manager at the time, he dubbed it the best Bay Area championship team ever.

“I’m a great believer in not disrespecting anybody, whether it’s a great 49er team, or the Warriors, or the Giants, but there isn’t any team that would be better than the ‘89 A’s,” La Russa said in a recent interview with 95.7 The Game. “Because they were absolutely complete in every way. Not just talented checking every box, but also in their attitude about teammates playing hard, playing tough.”

NBC Sports Bay Area asked fans last week to vote for the best Bay Area dynasty of all time. While the mid-1970s A's team was included, the late-1980s A's were not.

Still, the 1989 A's were pretty good.

Mark McGwire was 25 years old and hit a team-leading 33 home runs that season with infielder Carney Lansford hitting a .336/.398/.405 line with 185 hits. 

This team also had Dave Henderson and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson roaming the outfield. Rickey would end the season leading the league with 77 swiped bags. World Series MVP Dave Stewart was a dominant starter. Out of the bullpen, Dennis Eckersley collected 33 saves on the season, boasting a 1.56 ERA.

“So, the ‘89 team had, not only was it a really good team, almost great, but once you added Rickey, then we became truly great, and we added Mike Moore, which added an outstanding starting pitcher to the rotation, but it had something else man, it had a fever going,” La Russa said.

La Russa named every aspect of the team that brought them back to the Fall Classic that season. The infield, the outfield, the pitching staff, and of course, the coaches.

[RELATED: Stew describes coronavirus scare]

The team also possessed the perfect balance of rookie and veterans to get to the big stage and win it all. 

“It was the perfect team,” he said.

Just about.