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   1. TomH Posted: September 24, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2540191)
10 playoff teams is too many for a sport that plays 162 regular season games.

Given that we're not going to go back to only 4, I think the best idea is to either
a) leave as is, or
b) give the wild card only 1 home game i nthe 5-gamne set, or
c) make the wild card vs best-record matchup be a best-of-6 (a best-of-7 where the other team is spotted one win). WC has to win 4, best record only has to win 3. And allow the WC to play the division winner.
   2. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: September 24, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2540194)
I'd go with c), myself.
   3. John DiFool2 Posted: September 24, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2540206)
I remember how the NFL used to have a wild card game like that. Lasted about 5 seasons before they expanded the playoffs to 6 teams from each conference, top two get a bye. Good news for baseball is that the weather will prevent such nonsense (well until global warming gives us 70 degree temperatures for October night games in Boston).
The Wild Card is a kludge but most attempts I've seen to "remedy" it turn out to be even worse kludges; the 8 division idea looks good until a sub .500 team gets in over a .600 level 2nd place team from another division.
   4. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2007 at 05:53 PM (#2540212)
If we really feel that it's unfair to allow wild card teams to compete on a equal footing with division winners, then we shouldn't have wild card teams. These fixes don't fix anything. They just foul things up worse.
   5. Sexy Lizard Posted: September 24, 2007 at 06:21 PM (#2540243)
Also, by handicapping the WC team in some way you will not infrequently end up effectively rewarding a team that finished with the 2nd most wins in the league, because of the thing about not playing a team from your own division in the first round. The 2008 Devil Rays and their 104 wins won't get any advantage, because the WC Orioles are off playing the 95-win Royals.

Either dump the WC and go back to two divisions per league, or add two teams and go with 8 4-team divisions and no WC, I don't care which.
   6. robinred Posted: September 24, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2540256)
I am not a WC guy, but given the reality of the situation, I think Toby's idea is OK. Selig might actually go for it, and it would give some meaning to winning the division.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: September 24, 2007 at 06:30 PM (#2540260)
I think the team that has the best record in each league should be able to choose the team they play in the first round -- including a team from their own division.
   8. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 24, 2007 at 06:56 PM (#2540290)
Just forget about divisions and put the top four records in each league in a seeded tournament. The schedule can stay regionally weighted, if they want, though I think that's stupid.
   9. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 24, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2540298)
I think the team that has the best record in each league should be able to choose the team they play in the first round -- including a team from their own division.

I wouldn't want that kind of responsibility if I had the best record in the league. If you pick a team, that lets the world know that you think you will beat them in a short series. And if you lose, it's all the worse.

Isn't Toby's idea pretty much the same as Bob Costas' proposal in his book years ago?
   10. Cris E Posted: September 24, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2540301)
What did I say last year? I'm pretty sure I still think that.
   11. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2007 at 07:07 PM (#2540303)
Instead of a one-game playoff, make it three -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Real playoffs start Thursday. Division winners get to get their rotations in order, WCs have to scramble.
   12. Toby Posted: September 24, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2540321)
Heard of Costas' book, never read it. I've been floating this idea since the Old Primer days. Several years after I began floating it, Jayson Stark floated the same idea in an ESPN.com column, I think he said he heard it from Tom Ruane, or perhaps Tom Tippett, I forget. Can't seem to google that one up.

But here's a thread from May 2002 where I floated the idea (it wasn't the first time).
   13. villageidiom Posted: September 24, 2007 at 07:54 PM (#2540377)
My preference is to keep it all as it is. Having said that...

Break into four leagues:

1 use DH, present conditions
2 use DH, 1960's-era conditions (no hitter's backdrop, higher mound, etc.)
3 no DH, present conditions
4 no DH, 1960's-era conditions

First round of playoffs: Top two teams in each league play each other, with top team getting spotted 1 game for every 2-game advantage in the standings. (e.g. if up by 4 games, top team only needs to win 2 games, while runner-up needs to win 4.) Any team with an 8-game lead gets a first round bye, while the runner-up goes home.

Second round: Leagues 1+2 square off against each other, as do leagues 3+4.

World Series: The two winners of the second round advance. Game 7, if necessary, is played at a neutral site, almost eliminating home-field advantage.

I've come to enjoy the World Series being a battle between two different styles of play, and two rosters built around their particular style of play. If there are going to be divisions, I'd rather that they be split on that premise. I picked the 60's-era pitcher friendly conditions because it's in the historical record; I could just as easily have picked aluminum bats, or 7-inning games, or midgets, or whatever, but then we lose the connection with history.
   14. John S Posted: September 24, 2007 at 08:41 PM (#2540480)
Wow. I haven't heard such crazy talk since the black lodge. "Let's rock..."

I think the only thing that needs to be looked into is when the team with the best record should play the team from it's division (wild card with the poorest record of playoff teams). Everything else seems ok to me. I mean in a vacuum you can say that you should reward teams for winning their division and penalize those for not, but come on: divisions are not made equal. If the D-Rays can't elect to change divisions, they shouldn't be penalized with a 1 game playoff because they have the second best record in the league to the BJs. I mean, do you think that some NL West teams wouldn't want to go to the central? Seems like penalizing for geography (and in some cases subjective divisional choices made by baseball: Chicago central but Texas west).
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2007 at 08:52 PM (#2540500)
1 use DH, present conditions
2 use DH, 1960's-era conditions (no hitter's backdrop, higher mound, etc.)
3 no DH, present conditions
4 no DH, 1960's-era conditions


Every decent free agent pitcher will want to go to a team in league 4. Every decent free agent hitter will want to go to league 1 or 3. GMs of leagues 2 and 4 will seek to improve their defenses. In a few years, this won't be a clever study in contrasting styles any more. It will be one league of 14 inning double shutouts and another league of five hour nine inning games with an average offense scoring 850 runs.
   16. BDC Posted: September 24, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2540517)
8 4-team divisions

That has an attractive symmetry to it, but I think DiFool is correct: it means, inevitably, a sub-.500 team going deep in the playoffs, even winning the Series.

I'd tweak a 32-team alignment to consist of four eight-team divisions: the first-place team from each plays a second-place team from another in the first playoff round of three. With sufficiently imbalanced schedules, the top two teams in each division would always have winning records.

In fact that, or a similar 32-team arrangement, would be near-perfect. The problem with this stupid 30-team six-division alignment is that it's just clumsy and leads to goofy multiple-team "races" that are really hard to follow and rarely involve head-to-head matchups. Whereas an 8-team division can play entirely intraleague for the whole month of September, and there are bound to be good 2- 3- or even 4-team races for a playoff spot or two pretty often, with the contenders going head-to-head at times ...
   17. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: September 24, 2007 at 10:16 PM (#2540583)
(no hitter's backdrop, higher mound, etc.)

Taking away the hitter's backdrop would be a serious safety issue...
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:00 PM (#2540614)
I love how people are finally coming around to the ideas that (1) the wild card can often render division races meaningless, and (2) being the wild card doesn't have any drawbacks. And yet, we're told by Bud Selig and various columnists that "everyone now agrees" that the wild card was a good idea. If it is such a great idea, why the talk about going to 10 teams to fix certain problems?

My solution? Eliminate the wild card.

Or at least go to 8 4-team divisions. As for the worry about sub-.500 teams getting into the playoffs under 8/4, that can happen under the current system, and in any event division races will be preserved with 8/4 instead of perverted.

It's not like you're guaranteed to have no sub-.500 teams once you expand to 10 teams.
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:18 PM (#2540627)
I love how people are finally coming around to the ideas that (1) the wild card can often render division races meaningless, and (2) being the wild card doesn't have any drawbacks.

You haven't been here long, have you? Many of the regular posters here "came around" to those ideas before this site even existed (when they were regulars at alt-rec-baseball, for instance). Some of us even came around to those ideas before the wild card was introduced to MLB.

As for the worry about sub-.500 teams getting into the playoffs under 8/4, that can happen under the current system, and in any event division races will be preserved with 8/4 instead of perverted.

Yes, it's possible under the current system. But it's a lot more likely with an 8/4 setup because it will be very difficult to imbalance the schedule enough to sufficiently increase the chances that the winner of even a pitiably weak division will have a .500+ record.
   20. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:20 PM (#2540631)
I liked the old two-division format, and never quite understood what was wrong with it.
   21. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2540643)
I liked the old two-division format, and never quite understood what was wrong with it.

Why do you hate America?
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:36 PM (#2540661)
You haven't been here long, have you? Many of the regular posters here "came around" to those ideas before this site even existed (when they were regulars at alt-rec-baseball, for instance). Some of us even came around to those ideas before the wild card was introduced to MLB.


Thanks for the history lesson, but I was a regular at rec.sport.baseball (not "alt") starting in 1992.

I was speaking mainly of people in the general media who supposedly love the wild card. For example, I happened to catch a Joe Torre interview last week during which Mike Francesa and Chris Russo were pimping the extra-two-wildcards idea. Torre expressed concern that we don't go to "an NBA or NFL type of format."
   23. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 24, 2007 at 11:38 PM (#2540670)
I was speaking mainly of people in the general media who supposedly love the wild card.

That's what I thought. But this is a post by a primate, not a link to an MSM piece. So your rant seemed a bit misplaced.
   24. Karl from NY Posted: September 25, 2007 at 12:44 AM (#2540797)
A few comments:

c) make the wild card vs best-record matchup be a best-of-6 (a best-of-7 where the other team is spotted one win). WC has to win 4, best record only has to win 3.

Sounds good, but what happens if the teams split 3 and 3? Every single mediot and commentator will be screaming for a seventh game to settle it on the field. And they'd probably be right.


I liked the old two-division format, and never quite understood what was wrong with it.

It failed to exploit potential ticket and TV revenue, of course. Fatal flaw for any modern sports scheme.


Torre expressed concern that we don't go to "an NBA or NFL type of format."

Of course. The Yankees have nothing to gain from adding playoff rounds, and everything to lose by playing an extra short series or two.
   25. Hugh Jorgan Posted: September 25, 2007 at 02:26 AM (#2540979)
"I liked the old two-division format, and never quite understood what was wrong with it."

Couldn't agree more. This fetish with multiple divisions, leagues etc is just plain silly. 2 leagues, NL, AL, top 2 or 4 in each league are in the playoffs. 1 plays 4, 2 plays 3, etc. Couldn't be easier.
   26. BDC Posted: September 25, 2007 at 02:39 AM (#2541013)
This fetish with multiple divisions, leagues etc is just plain silly

I think some of the fear of 8-team or larger divisions comes from the notion that was expressed in 1968: "You can't sell a 12th-place ballclub." The implication was that you could sell the Expos as a sixth-place ballclub, as if people in Montreal weren't very bright. "Hein, they are only 11 games out of fifth place, pas si mauvais, n'est-ce pas ...?"

Texas Ranger fans have become familiar with what it means to be a fourth-place club in a four-team division. It ain't pretty.
   27. Hugh Jorgan Posted: September 25, 2007 at 06:42 AM (#2541217)
#26
Fair call on that from an owners standpoint. However (2) 15 team leagues with the top 2 or 4 making the playoffs is far and away the tidiest system. Surely its also easier from a scheduling standpoint as you can just play everyone in your league the same amount of times. It must be because I've been living overseas for so long that one just gets accustomed to these 25 or more team leagues, then the top 4 just playoff in the finals...
   28. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: September 25, 2007 at 07:10 AM (#2541223)
one less radical idea I guess would be to make Home Field disadvantage for the WC team. The WC team only gets 2 home games per series instead of 3?
   29. Robert S. Posted: September 25, 2007 at 08:16 AM (#2541228)
1. Two leagues.
2. No DH.
3. No divisions.
4. Balanced schedule.
5. No interleague.
6. Top 4 teams from each league make playoffs.
7. Three rounds of seven games.
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 25, 2007 at 11:17 AM (#2541233)
Isn't Toby's idea pretty much the same as Bob Costas' proposal in his book years ago?

Not really. Costas was against the wild card altogether. His proposal was that the "pennant winner" (i.e. the division winner with the best record) get a first round bye while the other two division winners play each other for the right to play the pennant winner in the LCS.

Obvious disadvantage: The second best team in the league could miss the playoffs while a mediocre winner of a weak division gets in.

Obvious advantage: Not only would you have the potential for an old-fashioned pennant race (with slightly lesser stakes), but all the division races would now mean something. This year's ALE would be a potential replay of 1978.

On balance I like the current setup best, especially with the AL's imbalanced schedule that gives us 19 Yankees-Red Sox games and reduces the number of road trips of eastern teams to the western time zones and vice versa. You're always going to have tradeoffs, but baseball is never going to return to any system that has the potential of making September a moot point for all but two or three teams. My only real worry is that they'll make some excuse to bring in a second wild card and drag this whole thing into November.
   31. Darren Posted: September 25, 2007 at 11:37 AM (#2541239)
How about the wildcard team gets the normal amount of home games, but they have use their hats to catch flyballs? Or you could make one of their guys carry an anvil around on his back (you could switch which guy between innings).
   32. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 25, 2007 at 11:48 AM (#2541245)
However (2) 15 team leagues with the top 2 or 4 making the playoffs is far and away the tidiest system.

Of course, you would have to play interleague games all year long with this setup. Either that, or have one team in each league off every day (and that would mean three or four days off in a row -- three or four extra all-star breaks for your favorite team each year).

they have use their hats to catch flyballs

I thought there was actually a rule against that.

you could switch which guy between innings

You're going soft. The Darren I know would insist that the same guy carry the anvil for all nine innings. Unless the game went into extras. Then they'd get a second anvil.
   33. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 25, 2007 at 12:28 PM (#2541266)
You're going soft. The Darren I know would insist that the same guy carry the anvil for all nine innings. Unless the game went into extras. Then they'd get a second anvil.


Could the second one at least be a movie stunt anvil? Like the kind that falls on Curly's head?
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 25, 2007 at 12:44 PM (#2541280)
The anvil also should be tricked to make a loud clanging noise with every step the fielder takes.
   35. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 25, 2007 at 12:55 PM (#2541292)
Seriously, I'm no fan of the WC, never have been, but every cure I've read is worse than the disease. Under the proposed solution, what occurs when two teams tie for the division, and they also have the two best records in the league? A tiebreaker? hardly fair, but making the two best teams play an extra game isn't either.

Imagine the top two east teams win 103 games. The other two division winners win 92 and 89, and the other WC teams wins 86. And the 86 win team is a 62-72 team without their ace on the mound, who happens to be rested and ready for the WC playoff. Which of the 103 win teams gets that booby prize?
   36. bunyon Posted: September 25, 2007 at 01:01 PM (#2541297)
one less radical idea I guess would be to make Home Field disadvantage for the WC team. The WC team only gets 2 home games per series instead of 3?

If you did away with the prohibition on two teams in the same division playing one another, I'd be all for a set up where the wild card team got NO home games unless it advanced to the LCS. Yes, the wild card may have a better record than the other two division winners but, still, they didn't win their division. Make 'em pay. If they win the LDS, then they've won something and they get a reward. This would punish, severely without making it impossible for them to win, the wild card team and reward, greatly without assuring victory, the team with the best record. That would also make the Boston/NYY race currently ongoing a helluva lot more interesting, wouldn't it?
   37. villageidiom Posted: September 25, 2007 at 01:04 PM (#2541298)
1 use DH, present conditions
2 use DH, 1960's-era conditions (no hitter's backdrop, higher mound, etc.)
3 no DH, present conditions
4 no DH, 1960's-era conditions

Every decent free agent pitcher will want to go to a team in league 4. Every decent free agent hitter will want to go to league 1 or 3.
Currently, we only have leagues 1 and 3. Not every decent free agent pitcher goes to league 3 (the NL), despite the advantages they'd have by doing so.

Don't free agents go where the money is? And if good hitting is a rare commodity in leagues 2 and 4 won't hitter salaries rise in those leagues in order to attract them? Not that I'm trying to argue for higher salaries... I'm just saying each league would have a different optimal allocation of salary, and that would mitigate the effect you describe.

Also, I'm picking an arbitrary difference to break the current two leagues into four. Pick something else that works for you. Allow only one pitching change per inning. Eliminate the balk rules for faking throws to a base. Use some, but not all, of the 1960's-era conditions. Whatever. (I'd thought a separation based on grass vs. artificial turf would be worthwhile, but most of the artificial turf in MLB has been replaced.)
   38. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: September 25, 2007 at 01:06 PM (#2541299)
ZERO playoff home games in the ALDS is a bit extreme. But 1? I would not be opposed to that. You get game 1 at home if you're the WC. That's it.

And of course, once you win, you get the 3 in the ALCS.

Allow only one pitching change per inning.

I like the Bill James rules. You get one freebie mid-inning pitcher change, and that's it. You can't change pitchers mid-inning unless that pitcher gives up a run.
   39. villageidiom Posted: September 25, 2007 at 01:09 PM (#2541301)
The Darren I know would insist that the same guy carry the anvil for all nine innings. Unless the game went into extras.
And the number of guys carrying anvils would be linked to payroll size.
   40. BDC Posted: September 25, 2007 at 01:09 PM (#2541302)
I just read a 1953 short story by Rex Stout in which a gambler fixes the seventh game of the World Series by spiking the Giants' pre-game soft drinks with phenobarbital. That would be as much fun as the anvil.
   41. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 25, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2541441)
Even better than Stout was Death On The Diamond, a 1934 movie that features the killing of a Cardinals outfielder by a sniper while he was rounding third, their star pitcher by a pre-game ambush, and their catcher by a poisoned hot dog. And the best part was that in all three cases the game continued with little or no break in the action. It's still the best baseball movie ever made, in spite of the fact that few people seem to have ever heard of it. Sort of like the Reefer Madness of the diamond. Even had Marcus Welby (Robert Young) as the hero who wins the World Series and rescues the Cardinals from a mob takeover.
   42. hankonly Posted: September 26, 2007 at 08:42 PM (#2543849)
Why do I get the eternal Rocky / Bullwinkle bit going through my head?

Rocky: Not again?!

Moose: This time fer shure!

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