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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Baseball’s postseason: It’s fun, but what does it all mean? | Mark Bradley

So far it means just about every team that I hope will advance gets sent home.

After his 94-68 Braves were eliminated by the 88-74 Cardinals in the play-in game, manager Fredi Gonzalez said: “You’ve got to judge a team over the 162-game season.” And you do, or at least you should. Trouble is, MLB doesn’t hand out a trophy after the 162nd game. The big trophy goes to team that wins 11 (or 12 now, in the case of the wild card) postseason games, and that race to 11 (or 12) is more a function of fortune than skill.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2012 at 08:14 AM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, braves, cardinals, giants, nationals, orioles, playoffs, rangers, reds, tigers, yankees

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   1. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:35 AM (#4267826)
Of the 11 National League teams to win 100 games in the wild-card era, not one took the World Series. But the Marlins, who have yet to finish first in their division, have done it twice.


And that, kids, is the gist of it.
   2. Dan Evensen Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4267874)
Time to break out the SOM / APBA / DLB / whatever cards and dice (or DMB on the machine), and replay these seasons with two division per league setup. Let's see how many times the Marlins win then.
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4267879)
It’s fun, but what does it all mean?


It means we get to have some fun?
   4. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4267882)
At a very quick count, the last six NFL teams to win 14 or more games didn't win the Super Bowl, which was collected by some distinct also-rans some of those years. It's not directly analogous, of course, but seems to show something inherent in playoffs, which has always been true of baseball postseasons. Over a shorter span, "luck" can prevail (and so can improvements a team makes late in a season). The old six-team NHL had the best idea: crown a champion, and then hold the Stanley Cup playoff. But nobody remembers who won the league championships (or do they?); the whole focus was always on the Cup anyway as I remember.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4267891)
The Giants - NY, not SF - not only were a mere 9-7, they were outscored by their opponents in the regular season and won the Super Bowl anyway last year. They lost twice by double digits to a team that only won 5 games (Washington).

It is what it is.
   6. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4267897)
It is what it is.


Sure. And it sucks.
   7. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4267904)
The old six-team NHL had the best idea: crown a champion, and then hold the Stanley Cup playoff. But nobody remembers who won the league championships (or do they?); the whole focus was always on the Cup anyway as I remember.


Nobody remembers the regular season champ, unless they flame out in the first round of the playoffs (Canucks).

And considering the 13th best team in the NHL just won the last Stanley Cup...

The only saving grace for the NHL is that their playoffs is a real grind, and it's hard for a team to truly "luck" their way to the title. You can have a goalie on a hot streak that can carry you, but you need more.
(The Hasek-led Buffalo Sabres never did win anything...)
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4267906)

Sure. And it sucks.


Except, it sucks less than the alternatives. There are far too many team for single division leagues.
   9. JE (Jason) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4267910)
When I was into college basketball, the Big East Tournament was always a big f*cking deal. Even way back then I realized that March Madness was a crapshoot ... on acid.
   10. JE (Jason) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4267915)
Except, it sucks less than the alternatives. There are far too many team for single division leagues.

Still, we could give the higher seed an more pronounced home-field advantage, although obviously that would have mattered very little in the National League this year.
   11. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4267919)
If you want to to attract people to the games late in the season, you want to have as many games as possible be meaningful as possible. That of course conflicts with the Platonic ideal of the single best team being declared champion. Every postseason/playoff format is an attempt to reconcile those two contrasting goals.

I am a game designer and encounter exactly the same thing. I want the most skillful player to win, but if the game is designed to separate players over the course of the game, players that fall behind with no real hope of catching up will complain and not want to play. One game company said of one of my current designs explicitly that they want more catch-up mechanisms in the late game. On the other hand, if the outcome seems too random and does not reward good long-range planning, players will complain also. It's not easy to balance it.
   12. DA Baracus Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4267920)
Except, it sucks less than the alternatives.


Only one wild card team is a much better alternative.
   13. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4267928)
Except, it sucks less than the alternatives.


Neither conceding or arguing this point, "sucks less than the alternatives" is not a rebuttal of "it sucks."
   14. Moe Greene Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4267947)
I am a game designer

Video or board?
   15. AndrewJ Posted: October 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4267990)
After his 94-68 Braves were eliminated by the 88-74 Cardinals in the play-in game, manager Fredi Gonzalez said: “You’ve got to judge a team over the 162-game season.” And you do, or at least you should. Trouble is, MLB doesn’t hand out a trophy after the 162nd game.

Maybe MLB needs to take a page from the NHL and hand out something like that.
   16. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4267992)
Interesting, Slivers. I guess every sport makes more sense in this respect than Quidditch, but most face some element of the Quidditch problem: how to include some way for a mismatch to somehow produce an upset. Boxers behind on points can hope for a knockout. Horses that trail in the Derby and Preakness can find that the extra two furlongs in the Belmont turn them into late-running champions.

In recent years, college football with its two-team playoff has demonstrated the worst of things, all but eliminating teams that lose even a single game, and undercutting both regular seasons and bowl matchups. It's not that the four- or larger-draw playoffs will choose a better champion, perhaps, as that they will put more interest back into the contests on the field that lead up to and include those playoff games.

I am nostalgic for the single-division leagues of my youth, but when one asks the rhetorical question of how those leagues kept up fan interest in the Astros and Athletics and Indians (I'm thinking mid-1960s here), the answer is, of course, that they didn't. That's in part why those teams drew 8,000 fans per game to that huge park in Cleveland, for example.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4268004)
Bob's got it right, as usual. While it obviously leads to a few bizarre "champions", unless baseball's willing to just write off the entire month of September for all but a tiny handful of teams, it's going to have to have some form of a wild card, and no type of wild card setup is going to please everyone.

Oh, and Sam, sorry about the Braves. Maybe you can arrange for some sort of retroactive regular season trophies that would supplement the Braves' three actual championships. Too bad that the first two of those championships were in Boston and Milwaukee.
   18. Darren Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4268007)
The first wild card usually makes it more likely that a top team will win. In a league of 14 to 16 teams, the wild card is often going to be better than one of the division winners. The second wild card, of course, ruined that. You introduce a team that's not likely to be better than a division winner AND putting a tremendous penalty on one of the likely top teams. All this because, ostensibly, they want to put more emphasis on winning the division (yeah right).

The bottom line is that MLB really doesn't care much if the best team wins. They just want more playoff baseball and more pennant races to sell.
   19. DA Baracus Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4268009)
Maybe MLB needs to take a page from the NHL and hand out something like that.


But nobody cares about the President's Trophy. Over the past decade or so the winners of it have done so poorly in the playoffs that fans sort of consider it a jinx.
   20. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4268013)
Oh, and Sam, sorry about the Braves. Maybe you can arrange for some sort of retroactive regular season trophies that would supplement the Braves' three actual championships.


I'll get something made up and place it in a position of prominence when I eventually piss on your grave, old man.
   21. PreservedFish Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4268018)
The first wild card usually makes it more likely that a top team will win. In a league of 14 to 16 teams, the wild card is often going to be better than one of the division winners. The second wild card, of course, ruined that. You introduce a team that's not likely to be better than a division winner AND putting a tremendous penalty on one of the likely top teams. All this because, ostensibly, they want to put more emphasis on winning the division (yeah right).


Well, I think that it did add an incentive to winning the division. But yes, it greatly greatly rewards the 5th best team.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4268022)
The bottom line is that MLB really doesn't care much if the best team wins. They just want more playoff baseball and more pennant races to sell.


I don't see the problem with that. The point of the second wild card team was to hand a noticeable advantage to the division winners, it doesn't mean that the division winners are automatically going to win of course, but it gives them an extra day or two of rest, it can force the wild card teams to arrange their rotation so that their best pitcher is used up going into the playoffs etc.

Giving a massive home field advantage to the division winners will then cause the other argument "Why should a team that won more game in a tougher division be at a serious disadvantage?" As mentioned it's a balancing act, that is never going to be perfect. You have to maintain fan interest in as many teams as possible in September, while also rewarding the teams that do well.

I'm not sure there is a better way to design it that would make every type of fan happy.
   23. DA Baracus Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4268023)
The point of the second wild card team was to hand a noticeable advantage to the division winners


No, it was to make money with the one game playoff.
   24. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4268029)
If you want to to attract people to the games late in the season, you want to have as many games as possible be meaningful as possible. That of course conflicts with the Platonic ideal of the single best team being declared champion. Every postseason/playoff format is an attempt to reconcile those two contrasting goals.


Truer words....

There are ways to make to better optimize for both goals. It's a piss poor reward for a 162 game struggle to give the wildcards a one game "playoff". It's also terrible to give the winners of those games and the division winners only a 5 game series to eliminate half after such a long season.

I would cut the "standard" season back to 154 games. Then I'd make the 4 wildcard teams each play a 5 game series while the division winners get a week off as a reward, and an advantage, being able to set their rotations. Then the division series would go 7 games, as would the league championships, until the glory of the World Series would go over 9 full games in two weeks.

More games and rest benefits the best teams and makes it (slightly) more likely they'll take the championship they "deserve".

And during the wildcard series, I'd have the non-playoff teams keep playing to assauge the owners fear of loss of ticket revenues. But instead of regular season games, it would be a double elimination tournament for draft positioning, complete with a glorious golden trophy for the winning loser, all to give the fans of those teams a rooting interest in those games.

There in one fell swoop almost all meaningless late season games become meaningful, the playoffs get slightly more "just", and the fans get a bunch more of the best baseball games ever, playoff baseball.

I am a game designer and encounter exactly the same thing. I want the most skillful player to win, but if the game is designed to separate players over the course of the game, players that fall behind with no real hope of catching up will complain and not want to play. One game company said of one of my current designs explicitly that they want more catch-up mechanisms in the late game. On the other hand, if the outcome seems too random and does not reward good long-range planning, players will complain also. It's not easy to balance it.


The game of poker succeeds entirely because the worst, most terrible players can win for days and weeks and months on end. They can win small tournaments, they can win the biggest tournament of all against an enormous field spread out over weeks and weeks. But over years, only the skilled can win, and given the rake, that ends up being a small proportion of the players. But the variance is so huge, it deludes the fish into coming back again and again, which is what keeps the game alive.

I often hear mediocre type "good" players ##### wishing they could better enforce their "edges" short term, without any clue as to how empty their games would be if that were to happen, empty except for world class players preying on the "mediocre good players", that is.

Baseball itself would not die if we went back to a single AL and NL division and the best teams facing off for the world series. But it would be a truly awful experience most seasons with Pennants decided weeks and months before seasons end, and accruing heavily to the wealthiest teams in the league. And it would clearly be damaging to the game and to small market fan interest, and probably directly lead to significant contraction because of it.
   25. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4268032)
There are too many teams for no-division leagues. I'm sure almost all of us agree on that. Divide it into two divisions per league and, well, that ain't always fair either (hello 1993 San Francisco Giants, hello 1973 NL West, hello 1987 AL East). It hasn't been "fair" since 1968.

The current set-up is preferable to the "Hey, who really cares if we win the division cuz the Wild Card works just fine" set-up that we had. People will always complain no matter what they do. The current model makes perfect sense economically and from a fan-interest standpoint.

The supposedly lucky-to-be-here Cardinals won as many games this year as the division-winning Tigers and had a better Pythagorean record (different leagues, I know, but you get my point). The Cards actually had the 4th-best Pythagorean record in baseball. They are no slouches, just ask Mike "Safety First" Rizzo.



   26. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4268034)
No, it was to make money with the one game playoff.


Put on your tinfoil hat. Yes it makes a little bit of money, but the real purpose was that people were complaining about there not being enough of an advantage to winning the division, that teams who knew they clinched a playoff spot would coast into the post season not really caring if they had the division or not. It was designed to prevent that attitude.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4268035)
I would cut the "standard" season back to 154 games. Then I'd make the 4 wildcard teams each play a 5 game series while the division winners get a week off as a reward, and an advantage, being able to set their rotations. Then the division series would go 7 games, as would the league championships, until the glory of the World Series would go over 9 full games in two weeks.


Teams don't want that week off, for the pitchers it might be fine, but for the hitters, people will be complaining about it messing up the hitters timing. A day or two off is one thing.

   28. Mike A Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4268036)
The addition of the 2nd WC was to keep more teams in the playoffs for longer, and in turn increase attendance in September (the extra playoff game revenue is a nice little cherry on top). Selig may pay lip service to 'making the playoffs fairer,' but he's more interested in the bottom line.

Bradley, again, writes a solid article. Remember his audience is not your typical informed BTF reader, but rather the multitude of Atlanta fans who consider this season a failure (and the Braves chokers) based on a silly one-game playoff. Hopefully more fans will start to understand the randomness of the baseball playoffs.
   29. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4268039)
I do wish people would stop saying the playoffs are random. They are not. Real people playing real games with real knowledge of what's at stake. Small sample size, yes. Great deal for the underdog compared to the regular season, yes. Random, no.
   30. Dale Sams Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4268040)


re: 27. I've never quite understood that....

You can say it's not the same thing, but how is playing simulated games to keep your hitters sharp different then a real game? (####, import fans if you have too..play the Netherlands national team...) Or is the REAL issue getting your players to the ballpark on these days off to put in the work?
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4268041)
The addition of the 2nd WC was to keep more teams in the playoffs for longer, and in turn increase attendance in September (the extra playoff game revenue is a nice little cherry on top). Selig may pay lip service to 'making the playoffs fairer,' but he's more interested in the bottom line.


Seriously, get a tin foil hat. Everything ultimately is about money, but saying lip service is bullshit. They added the 5th wild card team because it was the best solution they could come up with to prevent teams from coasting into the playoffs. A one game playoff could see a wildly successful season(like the Braves had) come crashing down in one game. Hopefully motivating them to improve the team to win the division next yer, or motivate teams to play hard in September(like most of the AL seemed to do this year) That is the purpose of the play in game.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4268043)
You can say it's not the same thing, but how is playing simulated games to keep your hitters sharp different then a real game? (####, import fans if you have too..play the Netherlands national team...) Or is the REAL issue getting your players to the ballpark on these days off to put in the work?


Ask the players. They don't think that Spring training is the same thing either.
   33. Mike A Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4268047)
'Randomness' is different than 'random,' but point taken. I should have said 'silliness' instead.

And I'll proudly wear a tin foil hat when it comes to all things Selig. I don't believe he had fairness in mind for one second when he came up with the two team WC idea.
   34. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4268050)
That is the purpose of the play in game.


I'm shocked that a Cards fan is adamantly defending the play-in game. Just *shocked.*
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4268058)
I don't believe he had fairness in mind for one second when he came up with the two team WC idea.


everything is ultimately about money, but it's the arguments that the person makes for the changes that matters(I mean outside of football fans...you know inbred, hillbillies, no one thinks that a salary cap is about parity, it's about money, but the reason given for a salary cap is parity and when you argue against it, you have to argue against the reason given for it, not some simplistic nonsense that it's all about money, therefore making it wrong.)

The argument for the extra wild card game is that it creates more of an incentive for teams to win the division. In theory that produces two advantages for the fans. 1. teams try in September longer 2. teams who are already good, wont rest on their success. (either at the trade deadline or in the off season)

It creates some issues of course, teams that weren't in the playoffs before are now in it, devaluing the wild card as a whole(where in the past the wild card was usually going to be a team that had a better record than at least one division winner, now it's likely that the second wild card doesn't have that feather in the cap)

The advantages I think outweigh the disadvantages. When you set up the following requirements, 1. 162 game season 2. multiple divisions 3. At least two rounds of playoffs before the world series. The option they chose is so far the best with those requirements.

   36. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4268060)
I'm shocked that a Cards fan is adamantly defending the play-in game. Just *shocked.*


You mean the play in game, that I have been defending since it was proposed? What a shocker that I kept my opinion the same regardless of the outcome. I had a time machine and saw that the Cardinals were going to beat the Braves so I formed my opinion based upon my fandom.

You really are an idiot.
   37. spike Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4268061)
Seriously, get a tin foil hat.

You keep saying this, but Selig is on the record as saying that it is designed to expand the universe of potential teams in the mix late in the season.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/10277506-574/commissioner-bud-selig-says-that-wild-card-expansion-is-coming.html

“I’m optimistic. I think we’ll have it in 2012,” he said. “The clubs really want it. It looks like we’ll have it.’’ Selig said the wild card was needed as the game expanded. “The objective in sports is to provide hope and faith in as many places as possible, and that’s what the wild card does,’’ he said.

   38. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4268065)
You keep saying this, but Selig is on the record as saying that it is designed to expand the universe of potential teams in the mix late in the season.


Yes, which isn't the same as saying "No, it was to make money with the one game playoff."
   39. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4268070)
You really are an idiot.


And you're a front running fan of a second rate team. We all have our foibles.
   40. VoodooR Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4268071)
I was hesitant at first, but I've come around to the setup we've got this year -- not in small measure, I suppose, due to the fact that the playoffs have been really, really good so far. I'm okay with the champion not being the "best team". And I think 10 teams is an okay number (I certainly don't want any more). If I could change anything, I would eliminate divisions entirely, play a balanced schedule without interleague and have the 5 top teams from each league make the playoffs.
   41. spike Posted: October 13, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4268073)
Yes, which isn't the same as saying "No, it was to make money with the one game playoff."

But it's a far cry from "not enough advantage given to division winners". The point was to drive late season revenue from more clubs than under the previous system. Everything else was merely a corollary, and the central fact is it was a revenue driven decision, not a fairness one.
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4268077)
But it's a far cry from "not enough advantage given to division winners". The point was to drive late season revenue from more clubs than under the previous system. Everything else was merely a corollary, and the central fact is it was a revenue driven decision, not a fairness one.


And again opposing something because it creates revenue isn't a legitimate argument.

when they finally expand by two teams and go to four divisions, then I can see the argument against the wild cards, but as it stands now, with the current design and requirements, this is the best system out there(although a 7 game series for the playoffs would be better, and arguably a 3 game play in series, where the first game is on the road and last two at home of the team with the best record)
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4268080)

why couldn't the added wild card have been added to keep more teams in it longer AND to maximize the incentive to win your division?
   44. Bourbon Samurai Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4268082)
Speaking as a Nats fan who just got spanked by the Zombie Cardinal magic, I still love the play-in game. It added huge stakes to the season.
   45. Zach Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4268084)
There are three big constraints in designing a playoff system

1) Americans demand a head to head champion
2) The champion should have a legitimate claim to being the "best"
3) Regular season games should be important

Given that those three constraints aren't always satisfiable, the current system doesn't do a bad job. Bad teams seldom reach the playoffs, the champion always has to beat good teams, and the regular season usually comes down to the last week. A one game playoff is more random than you might prefer, but another way of looking at that is that it gives you an incentive to win the division.

   46. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4268086)
Neither conceding or arguing this point, "sucks less than the alternatives" is not a rebuttal of "it sucks."

Take it to the politics thread.
   47. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4268091)
Given that those three constraints aren't always satisfiable, the current system doesn't do a bad job. Bad teams seldom reach the playoffs, the champion always has to beat good teams, and the regular season usually comes down to the last week. A one game playoff is more random than you might prefer, but another way of looking at that is that it gives you an incentive to win the division.


Absolutely agree. Nothing is ever going to be perfect for everyone, and when you are dealing with a compromised system, you hope for the best possible. Can this system be tweaked a little more? Probably, but it's pretty good now with the constraints placed on it.
   48. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4268092)

Video or board?


Board.
   49. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4268096)
When I was into college basketball, the Big East Tournament was always a big f*cking deal. Even way back then I realized that March Madness was a crapshoot ... on acid.


Yeah ... as a Pitt fan I'm kind of ashamed that Jamie Dixon has pioneered the "Lose in the first round of the Big East tournament, so you have more time to prepare for your March Madness game against Central Connecticut State" strategy.
   50. greenback calls it soccer Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4268100)
And you're a front running fan of a second rate team. We all have our foibles.

It's great being the fan of a second-rate team that keeps benefiting from weird post-season structure. Absolutely ####### fantastic, actually.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4268102)
You can say it's not the same thing, but how is playing simulated games to keep your hitters sharp different then a real game? (####, import fans if you have too..play the Netherlands national team...) Or is the REAL issue getting your players to the ballpark on these days off to put in the work?

Where are you going to get MLB quality pitchers willing to go all out trying to get the batters out?

Answer is, you can't. You don't want to fatigue, or risk injury to your own pitchers. No other team is going to lend you theirs; imagine the headline in the Globe - "John Lester suffers career ending injury helping Yankees prepare for ALCS".

Facing a bunch of AAA/AAAA arms that aren't good enough to care if they get hurt, is not going to get a team ready to face Verlander or Sabbathia.
   52. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 13, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4268103)
I'm okay with the champion not being the "best team".

In the 65 20th century World Series before divisional play began, there were plenty of cases where "the best team" didn't necessarily win, and more than a few other times when the second or even third place teams in one league was arguably "better" than the pennant winner in the other league. The whole idea of "best team" independent of actual championships is an interesting statistical exercise, but to take it beyond that and into the Land of Excuses is just silly.
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4268108)
For the record, I do not for a second think that the Cardinals are the best team in baseball this year or last year or even 2006 (although I will argue with people that the post season roster the Cardinals had in 2006 was as good, if not better than the rosters the other teams had. And that the w/l record doesn't reflect the Cardinals true quality either)

Nobody should think that the world series winner is indicative of the best team in the game, but it's a pretty big deal to win the tournament that is known as MLB post season.
   54. DA Baracus Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4268116)
Seriously, get a tin foil hat.


Seriously, you are naive.

They added the 5th wild card team because it was the best solution they could come up with to prevent teams from coasting into the playoffs.


Ha. No, they did it to add revenue. Millions in gate receipts, many more millions in TV revenue.

And again opposing something because it creates revenue isn't a legitimate argument.


No one opposes it because it creates revenue. They oppose it because weaker teams get into the playoffs.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4268117)
Ha. No, they did it to add revenue. Millions in gate receipts, many more millions in TV revenue.


65% of the gate receipt of a one game playoff goes to the players. It's not that much money for the teams, and again, it's just one game. It is not all about the money, to think that, is conspiracy nutters.

Once you started allowing multiple divisions, wild cards, weaker teams were always going to get into the playoffs. From a fan perspective, the one game adds more meaning to the September games, which was one of the complaints.
   56. VoodooR Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4268124)
The whole major league baseball season and the playoffs are simply exercises to make money. The fact that additions or changes are done to make money are 1) ####### obvious and 2) irrelevant as to whether they are good/bad decisions that increase/decrease the pleasure derived.
   57. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4268125)


The argument for the extra wild card game is that it creates more of an incentive for teams to win the division.


It potentially strengthens one division race per league (for instance, this year it had probably weakened the AL a little. There was no coasting, because the AL West and AL East leaders and runners-up were so close). It potentially weakens another (by turning one winner-take-all race into one with a consolation prize). This idea that it does more than improve a single division race per league is bizarre.

   58. DA Baracus Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4268138)
65% of the gate receipt of a one game playoff goes to the players. It's not that much money for the teams, and again, it's just one game. It is not all about the money, to think that, is conspiracy nutters.


15% of playoff receipt revenue goes to Bud Selig.

It is not all about the money, to think that, is conspiracy nutters.


More playoff games exist soley to make money. From 2010:

So, for owners, there is money to be made even if your club were to get swept in a given postseason series, but they reap even greater rewards if a series goes beyond the minimum, not just because of the extra games, but because the two teams get 100% of the gate after the Commissioner's Office takes their slice off the top.


More games = more money. It really is that simple. Why do you think they implemented the extra game this year? And rushed to do so, creating an advantage for the wild card team by hosting the first two games of the divisional series?

Once you started allowing multiple divisions, wild cards, weaker teams were always going to get into the playoffs.


More money for more teams. And more money for the networks, who just signed new deals at nearly double the price of the old ones.
   59. Moe Greene Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4268146)
Video or board?

Board.

Awesome. I spend hours each week hanging out at Board Game Geek. Do you have any designs with pages on BGG? I'd like to check them out.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4268152)
As mentioned, EVERY ####### GAME PLAYED IS ABOUT MONEY.

jeezus, you probably think the moon landing was faked, obama was born in kenya, bush created 9/11, that Kennedy was assasinated by more than one gunman, and that global warming is a conspiracy...
People are seriously insane when it comes to Bud Selig and baseball.


The extra round is there because people were upset that wild card teams path to the world series was the same difficulty as teams who actually won something. Wild cards existed because they went to three divisions and didn't want to do something weird for the post season and the wild card was the simplest solution, but it created problems. Baseball doesn't have the homefield advantage issues that other sports seem to have, so homefield advantage wasn't enough of an incentive for teams to play hard in September. Every year it seemed an article was written about a team coasting into the playoffs. So you have an issue where you are trying to please the masses, and you also are not going to go back to two divisions(that is about the money) so what is the best compromise solution?

   61. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4268163)
The fact that additions or changes are done to make money are 1) ####### obvious and 2) irrelevant as to whether they are good/bad decisions that increase/decrease the pleasure derived.

This. One can certainly imagine scenarios where added games would lose money. If Bud decided to implement a best-of-19 playoff series between the Astros and Cubs to decide the coveted 29th seed in the winterlong daily-tripleheader round-robin Hunt for February, I think that would lose money. Though people might actually pay not to have to watch the games.
   62. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4268182)
The Giants - NY, not SF - not only were a mere 9-7, they were outscored by their opponents in the regular season and won the Super Bowl anyway last year.

When your mediocre team squeaks by and wins a championship, it is an affront to God, motherhood and apple pie. When my mediocre team wins a title, however, it's proof they are scrappy and resilient and morally superior (as am I, of course).
   63. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4268185)
When your mediocre team squeaks by and wins a championship, it is an affront to God, motherhood and apple pie. When my mediocre team wins a title, however, it's proof they are scrappy and resilient and morally superior (as am I, of course).


Anyone really saying that? I think on every thread on this board, everyone knows that the best team doesn't win in the post season. Now if it's my team, I will say that my team is better than your perception of them based upon their actual won/loss record. But that isn't the same thing as thinking your team is superior to them, just saying that it was wrong to dismiss them as a lesser team.
   64. spike Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4268190)
The extra round is there because people were upset that wild card teams path to the world series was the same difficulty as teams who actually won something

I say again, the extra round is in there, by design and Bud's own words, to maintain late season interest for more clubs. It may well do what you claim as well, but that is not why it was added.
   65. rr Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4268197)
I have been on the pro-side of the second WC, as opposed to one. I don't mean this to taunt Texas fans, but we saw this year that losing the West late really hurt Texas--put them in the play-in game, and they lost. To me that is a plus, although there is another side to it.

   66. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4268202)
I don't feel taunted, rr. If there's a "consolation," it's that the Rangers, after mid-September, didn't really look capable of winning much of anything; they just weren't playing well. So I don't have the sense that they were robbed, or lost their superior status to a crapshoot or coinflip. They only had to win one of their last four games to make an ALDS; they lost them all, convincingly.
   67. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4268204)
I say again, the extra round is in there, by design and Bud's own words, to maintain late season interest for more clubs. It may well do what you claim as well, but that is not why it was added.


Bud has liked the idea of 10 playoff teams for a while and had looked into adding it for some time. The design of the system came about because the best teams stopped trying at the end of the season. This killed two birds with one stone. Contrary to what Bud haters like to say about him, he doesn't just come up with an idea and force it onto the league, he takes his time and waits for the demand to happen for him to add his idea to the league.

Bud wants instant replay, but is going about it slowly, he wants more balanced divisions but it's taken several years to arrange for it, he wants silly things like during interleague play, you play by visiting teams rules, and hasn't had that happen yet. (I support that for the second game of the series) etc.


It's a combination of things that allowed it to happen, and it's a good choice, I'm hoping that is the end of it, I think having the play in game going to three games is wrong, I think other silly ideas to balance things out (such as a two game series where the team with the best record starts up 1-0 or having the real playoffs be all home games for the division winner,etc is taking things a little too far)
   68. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4268207)
The Giants - NY, not SF - not only were a mere 9-7, they were outscored by their opponents in the regular season and won the Super Bowl anyway last year.


When your mediocre team squeaks by and wins a championship, it is an affront to God, motherhood and apple pie. When my mediocre team wins a title, however, it's proof they are scrappy and resilient and morally superior (as am I, of course).

While of course all it really means is that the team that won peaked at the right time, while the team that didn't win peaked way too early. Or it might just mean that the team that won was a different team than it was in June, and in fact by October (or Feburary) was the "best" team.

If anyone has a formula to sort all that out, please let us all know. Meanwhile, flags fly forever while most regular season "winners" are only dimly remembered. How horribly unjust.
   69. rr Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4268209)
BDC,

I know many Texas fans feel that way, and that is what their announcers* were saying late.

But my point was more macro with the Rangers simply being the example. Under the old system, Texas would have been the WC** playing the Yankees best-of-5. Under this one, they were in a riskier spot. As a fan, I like that--there should be a real cost for losing the division.

The counter of course is that under the old system, Descalso, Kozma and Co would have been sitting at home. To me, the first scenario is better in terms of competitive ecology but YMMV.

*Texas' radio guys are really good, particularly Nadel.
**I think that they actually might have had to play a tiebreaker with the Orioles, but the point is the same big-picture.

   70. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4268214)
The money and more interest in more markets are great windfalls, but the rushed implementation (just one year after the Yankees/Rays "pennant race") and limited impact (just one extra game for each league, which has been necessary under the prior system anyway) suggest that second wild card is primarily a reaction to the corrosive impact of the previous one wild card system on regular season competition.
   71. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4268221)
I think that they actually might have had to play a tiebreaker with the Orioles

Yes, so actually the league would have had precisely the same postseason picture. But you're quite right; if they'd clinched a sole Wild Card at some point, then the rest of the season has no stress for them. It's still possible to clinch a division title early and then coast, but clinching any part of a Wild Card has become rather meaningless in itself, if you've still got a division title to play for.

Actually it's complicated, and we haven't seen all its implications yet, have we? Let's say you clinch half a Wild Card, and the team ahead of you has clinched the division. Your last series is against a team still fighting for an undecided division – or worse with the new 15-team leagues, interleague against some desperate contender in the other division. Your situation can't get any better or worse, so you must rest up for the play-in. Then Bud starts moaning about the Integrity of the Game :)

Such scenarios we have had possibly with us since the AL went to odd-team divisions in the late 1970s, of course.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4268228)
Actually it's complicated, and we haven't seen all its implications yet, have we?


No, not even close. There are all sorts of issues, mostly small ones and some that will only happen on very rare occasions, that will crop up now that we've solved that one problem.
   73. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 13, 2012 at 08:03 PM (#4268320)
I don't mean this to taunt Texas fans, but we saw this year that losing the West late really hurt Texas--put them in the play-in game, and they lost.


The Rangers' season would have turned out exactly the same under last year's playoff format. Exactly.
   74. rr Posted: October 13, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4268335)

The Rangers' season would have turned out exactly the same under last year's playoff format. Exactly.


I recalled that and put it in a later post; either you didn't read that part or ignored it. The larger point holds, however.
   75. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4268414)
There are all sorts of issues, mostly small ones and some that will only happen on very rare occasions, that will crop up now that we've solved that one problem

I'm sure Tony LaRussa's already thought of some way a team will someday be forced to throw a game to make the postseason :)
   76. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:57 PM (#4268905)
I'm sure Tony LaRussa's already thought of some way a team will someday be forced to throw a game to make the postseason :)


You joke, but you could be in a position to throw a game to get a preferred playoff opponent. If you're looking at a season where the two wild cards are quite strong and the third division features a very weak winner in a race that goes down to the wire (say, like the year the Pads won the West at 82-80), then you might prefer the second seed to the first. Not saying it would ever happen, but it is a theoretical possibiliity now where it didn't exist previously.

   77. BDC Posted: October 14, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4269272)
I thought this morning of a situation where you'd be pretty much obligated to throw a game in the hopes of home-field advantage. St. Louis (with guest-manager TLR :) has clinched a Wild Card, but Cincinnati has clinched the Central Division. Washington and Atlanta are tied for first after 161 games; both have clinched at least the second Wild Card. St. Louis plays Washington and Atlanta plays whoever. St. Louis holds the HFA tiebreaker against Atlanta but not Washington, a situation that can't change today. The Cardinals don't control the situation, but they have to lose to Washington; HFA is an advantage, however tenuous and small we know it to be here at BBTF. By losing, they either get HFA outright against the Braves, or (even nicer in some ways) force a playoff game between the Braves and Nationals to precede the play-in.

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