Rob Manfred says a return to a 154-game season could happen one day

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Darren Rovell of ESPN reports that, while it’s not on anyone’s agenda at the moment, Commissioner Manfred is not averse to going back to a 154-game season at some point:

“I don’t think length of season is a topic that can’t ever be discussed,” Manfred told ESPN.com. “I don’t think it would be impossible to go back to 154 [games] . . . We already have some of our record books which reflect a 154-game season and obviously some of it reflects a 162-game season,” Manfred said. “So there’s some natural flexibility there. But if anyone suggests to go to something like 110 games, then there’s a real problem. That will throw all our numbers out of whack.”

Something Manfred did not say: how he would convince a supermajority of owners to cut eight games’ worth of ticket and concession sales. That’s a bit over 6% That’s 4.9% of the season [math is hard]. Figure in a 5% cut in broadcast rights too, as networks who are paying to broadcast a certain number of games likely wouldn’t want to pay quite as much for fewer games. It’s not gigantic in the grand scheme of things, but it is significant. And that’s before what I would assume to be an effort to reduce player salaries by some small percentage as well, about which the union may have something to say. Also: less baseball <<<< more baseball. But perhaps I’m just being selfish about that.

I doubt this ever becomes a serious agenda item. But, like Manfred’s comments about possibly changing the rules to outlaw defensive shifts, these offhand comments will likely lead to a lot of noise and commentary critical of Manfred simply because folks don’t like the idea of changing anything in baseball, whether the ideas are bad, good or neutral.

One thing Bud Selig was pretty good about: not mentioning anything he didn’t truly plan to do and not mentioning anything he planned to do until he was pretty sure he could get it done. Say what you want about old Bud, but that approach worked for him.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.