Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz believes baseball's schedule is broken and is in need of drastic changes.
Smoltz wants Major League Baseball to return to a more balanced schedule, eliminate interleague play, and adopt a split schedule format that would potentially inject some excitement into the pennant races and curb excess tanking.
"The way it is now, 75 percent of teams leave spring training with no chance to win, and no desire to win so they can build for the future," Smoltz told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "You look at the American League, it’s self-sufficient on four teams. We have no races.
"I would like to see a first-half and second-half scenario. I know people would roll their eyes at it, but it works in the minor leagues, and it would work in the big leagues. It would create so much more interest."
The proposed split schedule would result in division winners in both halves of the season, so teams like the Oakland Athletics (35-19 since the All-Star break) and Tampa Bay Rays (35-19, as well) would have clearer paths to the postseason. As it is, the A's are on their way while the Rays likely won't be rewarded for their exciting second half.
Smoltz also suggests a first-round bye if a team wins both halves of a season.
"What incentive now is there to win 110 games?" Smoltz said. "There’s no real advantage to the Boston Red Sox."
The player-turned-analyst says this would cause teams to think twice before giving up on the year.
The split season has been used before. In 1981, a work stoppage from June to July prompted this format to be adopted. One drawback came when the Cincinnati Reds missed the postseason despite owning the best record in the National League over the whole year (66-42), but didn't finish either half atop the NL West.
In addition to the overhaul, Smoltz wants defensive shifts banned, rampant reliever use to be reduced, and teams to stop manipulating the disabled list. He says his goal is to improve the overall experience for the viewer.
"We’ve got to get this game vibrant again. If we don’t, it’ll be unwatchable."