Since baseball began, many things have changed throughout the course of time. Here is a look at baseball then vs now, comparing the differences in the game from the past to the modern era.
The Baseball was Softer
Back in the day, baseballs were smaller, lighter in weight and softer. As the game went on, the ball continued to get softer, which made it harder to hit. This led to the Deadball Era. This period of time came about in the early 1900s, due to low scoring.
Since the ball was harder to hit, how teams played also changed. Some teams relied on sacrifice bunting and aggressive base running. This lead to better defense.
If the ball can’t be hit, a team needs to figure out ways to get runs on the board and they would take chances. The players got out many times from this, but runs needed to be scored so that was the sacrifice that was made. No risk meant no reward so they went for it.
Imagine what baseball would be like without Wild Card games, Division Series’ and Championship Series’? Well, that is exactly how it was back in the late 1800s through 1968. It was the best team of the AL vs the best team of the NL and they would face each other in the World Series. That was it!
In 1969, things did change when the creation of the ALCS and NLCS came about. It was the best AL East team vs the best AL West team. The same occurred for the NL with NL East vs NL West. The winners of these two series went on to the World Series. The ALCS and NLCS was a best-of-five series.
In 1981, the Division Series began. What baseball did was split up the season, meaning the best team of the AL East through mid-season played the best AL East team from mid-season on. For example, the New York Yankees were 34-22 and first in their division through mid-season. From mid-season on, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best AL East record at 31-22. These two teams faced off for the AL East Division Series (AEDIV). The same thing occurred with the AL West, NL East and NL West. The winners of each division then played in the ALCS and NLCS. Of course, the World Series were the winners of the ALCS and NLCS.
More Playoff Changes
Apparently, baseball was trying to change things again because the split format didn’t last. They went back to their original format of the ALCS and NLCS with the two best teams in each division facing each other. The winners would go on to face each other in the World Series.
This continued until 1995 when a Central Division was added to both American and National Leagues. Each Division winner automatically advanced to the postseason. The remaining team to advance was the team with the best record outside the division leaders. The best way to look at it is to put all the teams in the AL and rank them according to their record. The first three teams would be the Division leaders, best record first of course. The fourth-ranked team would be the last remaining team to make the playoffs. The winners of the ALDS face each other in the ALCS, etc.
It wasn’t until 2012 when the Wild Card came about. From this point on, there have been Wild Card games, ALDS and NLDS, ALCS, NLCS and the World Series.
Ever notice how much shifting goes on in baseball? This was not even a thought back then. There was no such thing as shifting. The players played their positions and that was that.
How would a player like Derek Jeter survive if they shifted on him now? Jeter was a great all-around hitter, but opposite field was his bread-and-butter. Fans can always rely on him in the clutch and he always delivered. Add a shift to Jeter and what would happen to his numbers? Would they fall? Yes. However, Jeter, being the great player he is, would probably try to find a way to make things work for him. He would have worked on a different way of hitting to make him and his team succeed. That is what he did and he would do anything to find a way to do it again if a shift was put on him.
The game of the past and today’s game are so different. Many old-school fans may look at baseball now and be disgusted. Some may even appreciate it because when time changes, so does everything else. People know that society has to adapt to change for survival purposes. This is the same with sports. When rules change or the game itself is played a little different, players need to do what they can to change with it. What is left to do in the sport of baseball for the future?
Featured Image Courtesy of Dnay Chid Sin/EyeEm from gettyimages.com
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