Thursday, March 07, 2013

Expanded Playoffs Ruin Baseball

I made a note last November to blog this. Today while cleaning my office, I found the note.

In the league championships serieseses, we had San Francisco (94 wins) versus Saint Louis (88 wins), and Detroit (88 wins) versus New York (95 wins). We had the distinct possibility of a World Series featuring two teams with 88 wins. What baseball teams had at least 88 wins last year? New York (AL), Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Oakland, Texas, Los Angeles (AL), Washington, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles (NL). Thirteen teams from a league of 30. That's more than 40% of professional baseball teams.

The World Series is supposed to determine the best baseball team of the year. Instead it routinely rewards streaky teams that enter October on a roll. Why play a 162-game season if the championship is just a matter of luck? Baseball can regain its relevancy by either returning to two leagues with no divisions, or by halving the regular season and not inundating the country with six months of games that are ultimately meaningless.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Eh. In hockey, more than 50% of the league is *guaranteed* to make the playoffs.

I'm not a huge sports purist; times and needs change.

My understanding is the rationale that since it's practically impossible for any one sports team to have the exact same schedule as any other team, the records can never really be fair anyway. The end-of-season records are therefore kind of fuzzy, enough to get a good idea of who the best is, and then the playoff system determines the rest. Not sure if it's the best solution, but in the clunky world of sports media it's not the worst justification.