The always up-to-date Wareham website has announced that there will be changes to the Cape League's regular season and playoff format. For the story by Scott Eaton click here. I like this better than the 2009 format. That one game play-in was a bad idea. Baseball is not meant to be played by having one game decide a playoff. It happened in MLB last year with the Twins-White Sox and this year with the Twins-Tigers, but there isn't much else you can do if teams are tied after 162 games.
I understand why some people won't like the idea of 8 of the 10 teams making the playoffs. That's getting close to the watered-down NHL where so many teams qualify that it's hard not to make the playoffs. I'm OK with it in the CCBL though because most years, the talent gap on the Cape doesn't seem that great from one team to another - even from the first place team to the fourth place team. This change does place less value on a team's accomplishments over the 44 game regular season. I would probably feel differently about the change if - to use 2009 as an example - Brewster (18 points behind Y-D) and Falmouth (16 pts. behind Bourne) had somehow gotten hot at the right time and ended up playing for the league championship. 18 and 16 points is a large gap over a short season and it certainly shows that Y-D and Bourne were vastly superior to Brewster and Falmouth. Geez, I'm talking myself out of my initial positive reaction already. Those splinters are starting to hurt from sitting on the fence. I am very glad that the league is going back to an East vs. West format for the championship round.
I'm guessing that one of the factors driving these changes is money, but that doesn't make it wrong. Teams will lose one home date by hosting a doubleheader. There may be a cost savings if Bourne only has to travel to Orleans once. Eight teams will make up that date by hosting at least one playoff game. More teams will have a chance to host more than one playoff game. A first place team that makes it all the way to the championship round could host as many as six playoff games. That would be a significant income boost.
The two last place teams will have 21 home dates instead of 22. When reading the story literally, it says "teams will play at least one scheduled doubleheader at home and one on the road." That seems to leave the door open for a team to host more than one scheduled doubleheader, in addition to any doubleheaders that may have to be played due to postponements.
At the very least, we now know that the 2010 season will open on Sunday, June 13.