Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Parker: MLB Hits A Homer WIth Wild Card Expansion

Parker: Stat ham.

No one wants MLB to turn into the NBA or NHL, where basically half the league makes the playoffs. When you do that, you make the regular season almost meaningless. Only 10 of the 30 MLB have a chance for a playoff. Better yet, only eight have a shot to win a World Series.

That’s the best part about the addition of the second Wild Card. The two teams play each other in a single elimination game just to join the three division winners in each league. Rightly, you get rewarded for winning the division.

So basically, it’s a play-in game to get to the postseason tournament.

And while some think it’s unfair, a single game to determine advance in the MLB playoffs, it really works. Better, there will some added excitement to kick the playoffs off.

For sports fans, there are few things better than a winner-takes-all game. It’s exciting to watch edge-of-your-seat, must-see TV­, even if your team isn’t involved.

For once, it’s easy for fans to say, “Thanks, Bud.”

Repoz Posted: September 24, 2013 at 05:49 AM | 132 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
   1. I Am Not a Number Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:10 AM (#4549078)
I dislike this extra wild card spot and this year there would be plenty of excitement without it. TB, Cleveland and Texas would be in meaningful games this week, and of course so would Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, who would possibly have to decide things on the last day of the season. I don't enjoy seeing .530 teams in a race, even if their fans do. The bar is too low.

As for the one-game play-in, I hate it. Yes, one-game winner-takes-all showdowns are exciting, but only as the culmination of something else like a best-of-seven series tied three-three or two teams with the same record after 161 games. I don't like the manufactured-ness of the play-in and the harshness of the punishment of losing the game.

But I'm sure everyone's mileage varies and some may truly enjoy the extra wild card.
   2. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:24 AM (#4549080)
For me the most important thing it does is make the division title meaningful. If you're going to have a Wild Card I prefer this system to the previous system for that reason.
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:29 AM (#4549082)
The cultural collision in baseball exposed in the debate over the extra wild card team is interesting, and unique to baseball.

I think it is fair to say that in the history of American sports, up until at least until 1969 (and perhaps until 1995), baseball was by far the hardest sports in which to make the postseason. Eight teams in your league, you play 154 games, and one of you gets to go the postseason. We expanded in the early 1960s...and the number of playoff teams didn't change until the 1969 expansion. This is arguably the single biggest reason the Yankees were able to so dominate the sport between 1921 and 1964. They were good enough to win the eight-team league much of the time, and then they just had to win one best-of-seven series. They went to the WS 29 times in that span, going 20-9.

At the same time, the other sports had different cultures and situations. The NHL had six teams, and four of them made the playoffs.

Pro football, of course, has a really short season, so every game matters a ton.

Basketball was more like hockey - small league, relatively high percentage makes the playoffs.

In baseball, the season is so long, and the playoff spots so scarce, that the season was designed to be a marathon that you survived, and your reward was that you got to be one of the few survivors. The Braves of the Bobby Cox era would have won many more WS if they were able to go straight to the WS, like the Yankees of the 21-64 era were. How many times would the Yankees of Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, etc. have been bumped off in a short series - much less a play-in game - if such a thing had existed, because of the SSS nature of playoff series?

I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is definitely a very different thing, with the play-in game and the wild card, three divisions, etc. I do think it devalues the marathon-like nature of the season, as the goal now is to "make the tournament", rather than to "win the pennant".

Were there lots of "doom and gloom" stories in 1969, when the two-division system was created?
   4. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:29 AM (#4549083)
Yeah, I like the one game playoff to get into the LDS.
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:40 AM (#4549088)
I don't enjoy seeing .530 teams in a race, even if their fans do. The bar is too low.


Teams that don't win their division shouldn't be in the playoffs. Roger.

I don't like the manufactured-ness of the play-in and the harshness of the punishment of losing the game.


And yet for a wildcard game loser to miss the playoffs because they lost the play-in game is too harsh.

These seem to be at odds.
   6. BDC Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:58 AM (#4549095)
Were there lots of "doom and gloom" stories in 1969, when the two-division system was created?

I still haven't gotten over it. Seems phony to me.

Seriously (though I'm serious enough, actually), I remember traditionalists griping about the 1969 divisional arrangement. But consider the context. One was also getting used to the Astrodome and artificial turf, to a team in Montreal, to plans for new stadiums in lots of cities, sideburns and mustaches and green-and-gold uniforms and electric scoreboards; the DH was on the horizon and much-debated (as were things like interleague play that didn't come to pass for a while longer). Divisional play was just one more crazy thing in the mix.
   7. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4549097)
For me the most important thing it does is make the division title meaningful. If you're going to have a Wild Card I prefer this system to the previous system for that reason.


If I could wield this sentiment like a vorpal sword, I would.

Now, to defund the wild card.
   8. eddieot Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4549099)
For me the most important thing it does is make the division title meaningful. If you're going to have a Wild Card I prefer this system to the previous system for that reason.

Exactly. Everyone forgets that while the extra Wild Card was desired by Bud, the owners and the networks, the one-game play-in was actually proposed by the players' side in CBA negotiations and was overwhelmingly supported by the players based on the idea that Wild Card teams should have a distinct disadvantage. If expanded playoffs were coming anyway they wanted it to be as fair as possible, which is also why the players overwhelmingly supported realignment. They swallowed the unbalanced schedule and constant interleague play as a pill to even out the divisions, which puts every team on a more level playing field in the fight for division titles.
   9. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 24, 2013 at 09:02 AM (#4549102)
No one wants MLB to turn into the NBA or NHL, where basically half the league makes the playoffs.


Did anyone run this claim by Bud for veracity?
   10. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4549105)
The "it moves the ball, but doesn't go far enough" sentiment is not new, and is controversial.

To pick a completely non-baseball incident, in the early Nineties, a lot of people wanted gays to serve openly in the military, but a lot of people did not. The solution arrived at was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", which came in for a lot of scrutiny a few years ago. Some called it "discriminatory", which it was. But I believe that at that time, the two practical choices were a complete ban on gays in the military or this, my thought was that this was "more progressive". A lot of people who I respect are of the opinion that it was worse than nothing; that a new law enshrines this stuff and that sooner or later enforcement of the old law would be so intolerable as to force action sooner.
   11. BDC Posted: September 24, 2013 at 09:27 AM (#4549121)
Pro football, of course, has a really short season, so every game matters a ton

The NFL had a relatively stable format of somewhere between five and seven teams per division, with a single championship game, from the mid-1930s through the mid-1960s (with minor variations now and then as the league expanded or contracted). It's interesting that when they went to eight teams per division in the mid-60s, they split the divisions in half, as if to suggest that there's a natural point somewhere between six and eight where single-division play gets less interesting for fans. Baseball, by contrast, flourished with eight teams in a "division," and was viable enough with ten.
   12. winnipegwhip Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4549155)
To #3, Balboni's comments, I would like to add to his reviews of the different leagues...that is why the NCAA football season is so exciting. One loss on any given Saturday could destroy a team's aspirations for the season to be a conference champ or national champion.
   13. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4549160)
Better yet, only eight have a shot to win a World Series.

Um, no.

   14. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4549168)
It can make some races better (the NL Central race for first is improved), but it also will make some worse. The Pirates-Reds dogfight would be better if they were simply playing for one spot, rather than angling for HFA (or actively not caring, preferring to have the pitching lined up rather than playing hard to the finish - which the whole system was designed to get rid of). None of the AL races for first would be any different this year, so the question becomes if 6 teams for 2 spots is better than 6 teams for 1? There's no single answer to that.

The new system undoubtedly lowers the bar for playoff entry, which is never a good thing.

The idea that this new system makes finishing first so much more important is not very well thought out. It has a very specific objective, improving a single divisional race each year, which it will occasionally meet. It also has very specific downsides.

All in all, it's a net negative.


   15. . Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4549175)
The Pirates-Reds dogfight would be better if they were simply playing for one spot, rather than angling for HFA (or actively not caring, preferring to have the pitching lined up rather than playing hard to the finish - which the whole system was designed to get rid of)

Not really, as neither deserves to get in on equal footing with division winners. The play-in game is stupid if it involves teams in the same division, but it beats the alternative.
   16. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4549178)
Right then.

1927: 16 teams; 2 post-season slots - 12.5% of the league makes the post-season
1969: 24 teams; 4 post-season slots - 16.7% of the league makes the post-season
1994: 28 teams; 8 post-season slots - 28.6% of the league makes the post-season
2013: 30 teams; 10* post-season slots - 33.3% of the league makes the post-season*

*but two of those teams are immediately eliminated in the WC play-in round. If we discount that "playoff appearance**" and reduce the "real playoff teams" to the 8 that make the LDS round: 30 teams; 8 slots - 26.7% of the league

**as a Braves fan from 2012, I can tell you that discounting the WC play-in as "not really the playoffs" is perfectly valid for the losing side.

If MLB expanded by two teams, to 32 teams (as it should) then 25% of the league would make the playoffs. My personal preference would be to get to that; no more than a quarter of a league should make the playoffs IMHO. But as it stands right now, we are in a better place today than we were from 1994-2011.
   17. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4549180)
The new system undoubtedly lowers the bar for playoff entry, which is never a good thing.


I don't really think this is true. I really think you have to treat the WC play-in as the 163'd game of the regular season, where the two best non-division winners get to go at one another for the right to sneak into the actual playoffs via the WC back door. That is loads better than the prior decade where the "best of the rest" got into the playoffs by default, just because you needed a fourth in each league.
   18. . Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4549186)
The real bottom line is that this season would have been far more compelling with the Red Sox and Tigers battling for the AL East championship, Cardinals and Pirates for the NL East, and Braves/Dodgers/Reds for the NL West, followed by two postseason rounds between deserving division champions. The fans in Pittsburgh, LA, and the rest of the cities would have been far better served by a real pennant race where victory earns you something cool and gets you much closer to a world championship. The A's deserve more than a first-round matchup with the Tigers and three rounds to the finish line for their runaway Real AL West championship.

Moreover, no "injustice" would be done by the non-winners celebrating a quality season and getting ready for next year with only four teams moving on.


   19. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4549187)
Indeed, SugarBear Blanks, if things were like they were 40 years ago, they would be "far more compelling", for SugarBear Blanks at least. Just as in every other aspect of baseball and possibly life.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4549188)
Not really, as neither deserves to get in on equal footing with division winners. The play-in game is stupid if it involves teams in the same division, but it beats the alternative.


But all it's doing is resetting where the dividing line is. If you've got one wild card, the winner of this race, which would be hard-fought and go down to the wire, would be on equal footing with the division winners. Under the two wild card system, the Reds and Pirates masturbate for the final week because the only thing that matters is that single game, whereby the winner of that contest is on equal footing with the division winners. You're welcome to buy into the idea that the latter is so much more betterer than the former because Bud told you so, but I'd think everyone here would be sharper than that.

I don't really think this is true. I really think you have to treat the WC play-in as the 163'd game of the regular season, where the two best non-division winners get to go at one another for the right to sneak into the actual playoffs via the WC back door.

And one of them will. It will happen every year. The new system makes it twice as hard for the fourth-place finisher to win the World Series. It make it incalculably easier for the fifth-place finisher to win it.

And half the time, that fifth-place team will be in the four-team real playoffs. That's lowering the overall bar.
   21. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4549189)
The real bottom line is that this season would have been far more compelling with the Red Sox and Tigers battling for the AL East championship, Cardinals and Pirates for the NL East, and Braves/Dodgers/Reds for the NL West, followed by two postseason rounds between deserving division champions.


I know you're fond of brute assertion in lieu of any sort of argumentation, but even here, outside of the OTP zone, it's still bullshit. What you meant to say is "the real bottom line is that The Id of SugarBear Blanks would have found this season far more compelling if it were more like the seasons I remember from my fast-fading youth. Also, if you lazy lot wouldn't mind, get off of my lawn."
   22. . Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4549190)
I know you're fond of brute assertion in lieu of any sort of argumentation, but even here, outside of the OTP zone, it's still ########. What you meant to say is "the real bottom line is that The Id of SugarBear Blanks would have found this season far more compelling if it were more like the seasons I remember from my fast-fading youth. Also, if you lazy lot wouldn't mind, get off of my lawn."

The fans would have found it more compelling too, for the reasons stated.

This has nothing to do with youth. Hockey and football are better today than ever, and NBA basketball is close to, if not as good as ever. Baseball isn't. Sorry if that gives you the hurtie ouchies.
   23. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4549191)
The fans would have found it more compelling too, for the reasons stated.


The fans seem to be perfectly happy with the current deal. You don't speak for all fans, Lord Protector.

This has nothing to do with youth. Hockey and football are better today than ever, and NBA basketball is close to, if not as good as ever. Baseball isn't. Sorry if that gives you the hurtie ouchies.


I do love how you run that 'hurtie ouchies' bit out there, as if I'm the one projecting my own wittle fee-fees onto the world at large and then pretending their universal truths. Mirror, bed-bug. Heal thyself.
   24. . Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4549192)
The fans seem to be perfectly happy with the current deal.

Actually, they don't. They aren't buying the "races" for the wild card. Covered in another thread a couple days ago.

And it's silly to suggest that Red Sox and A's fans wouldn't prefer a 69-93 style division championship and playoffs to what their great seasons will earn them in 2013.

   25. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4549201)
And it's silly to suggest that Red Sox and A's fans wouldn't prefer a 69-93 style division championship and playoffs to what their great seasons will earn them in 2013.


Prefer? Probably. Deserve? It's arbitrary sports leagues, son. Deserve's got nothing to do with it. Why should modern teams have to compete on such uneven ground with the teams of history? Why should the 27 Yankees get to go to the WS by beating a mere 8 other teams, but the 1996 Yankees have to beat 16 14 to get in?
   26. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4549203)
And it's silly to suggest that Red Sox and A's fans wouldn't prefer a 69-93 style division championship and playoffs to what their great seasons will earn them in 2013.


I think Red Sox fans should be fine with there being a Wild Card.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4549211)
**as a Braves fan from 2012, I can tell you that discounting the WC play-in as "not really the playoffs" is perfectly valid for the losing side.


It's going to be very interesting to see how the WC play-in loser "feels" about their season over the long term. My guess is that it will be as Sam suggests, more like an opportunity to advance to the playoffs, rather than actually being in the playoffs.
   28. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4549215)
It's going to be very interesting to see how the WC play-in loser "feels" about their season over the long term. My guess is that it will be as Sam suggests, more like an opportunity to advance to the playoffs, rather than actually being in the playoffs.


I think you'll see this with both players and fans. The play-in game is exactly that. It's a game you can qualify for if you fail to qualify for the playoffs outright. You then play that game to see if you get into the real playoffs.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4549221)
I think Red Sox fans should be fine with there being a Wild Card.


As should Yankee fans, if ring counting is your entire reason for being.

As much as I loved 2004, I'd still prefer a WC-free existence.

   30. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4549230)
This has nothing to do with youth. Hockey and football are better today than ever, and NBA basketball is close to, if not as good as ever. Baseball isn't. Sorry if that gives you the hurtie ouchies.


Bull farking crap. The infusion of young talent, considering that it is spread among 32 teams, is freaking awesome right now. Yeah baseball isn't.. it's probably better han ever.

You know what's cool about the play in game and lds? More baseball and that can't be a bad thing.
   31. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4549279)
You know what's cool about the play in game and lds? More baseball and that can't be a bad thing.


That's an extremely slippery slope. You could apply that argument to games in March and November as well. There has to be some practical scarcity, else the games won't mean anything.
   32. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4549313)
As my brother would say when he was arguing with my parents a teenager "and your point is?". I'd still rather watch live baseball than no baseball at all (though I do acknowledge there is a point of diminishing returns). Seasons like 2013 are great. WBC early on and games until almost November.
   33. Booey Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4549315)
And it's silly to suggest that Red Sox and A's fans wouldn't prefer a 69-93 style division championship and playoffs to what their great seasons will earn them in 2013.


Of course they would THIS SEASON. I'd guess that most fans preferences would change year to year depending on which system would give their current team the best chance to win. Would Red Sox fans have preferred the 1969-1993 system back in 2004, when their boys would have been sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV rather than winning their first championship in 86 years? I kinda doubt it. Do fans of wild card champions ever really care that their team didn't win the division? The ones I've talked to don't seem to.
   34. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4549317)
You could apply that argument to games in March and November as well. There has to be some practical scarcity, else the games won't mean anything.


You could, but it's not rational to do so in this case. In this case, we are discussing one (1) extra game per season. Basically, rather than waiting to see if an unbalanced schedule randomly through up a 163'd game tie-breaker into the mix, MLB has pre-scheduled one in advance. This gives management a relatively big-time TV draw during hotly contested fall TV time slots, allows schedulers to *assume* the playoff game in advance, and in the process devalues the WC while revaluing the divisional championship. Honestly; what's not to like about that?
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4549318)
Do fans of wild card champions ever really care that their team didn't win the division? The ones I've talked to don't seem to.


I'm still ecstatic that the 2004 Red Sox won it all under the rules governing the sport at the time. Neither they, nor I, have any reason to apologize for that title.

I still think the rules governing the sport at the time were an inferior way to run a championship baseball season, and it got worse last year.

These are not contradictory positions.

Similarly, I will watch and enjoy the play-in games (they are not Games 163). I still don't think they should exist, because I believe they further weaken the significance of the 162 games that came before them.
   36. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4549320)
Similarly, I will watch and enjoy the play-in games (they are not Games 163). I still don't think they should exist, because I believe they further weakens the significance of the 162 games that came before it.


This is just wrong. By devaluing the WC title, you are adding value back to the 162 game regular season.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4549325)

This is just wrong. By devaluing the WC title, you are adding value back to the 162 game regular season.


No, this the simpleton's approach. The system devalues the position of the best of the non-division winners. But for the second-best of the non-division winners, the value has gone up quite a bit.

The overall wild card (the one that wins the play-in game) is in virtually the exact same position it was before.

It's not really complicated.
   38. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 24, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4549340)
No, this the simpleton's approach. The system devalues the position of the best of the non-division winners. But for the second-best of the non-division winners, the value has gone up quite a bit.


So first-losers have to fight with second-losers for the right to play in October. Wah.

The overall wild card (the one that wins the play-in game) is in virtually the exact same position it was before.


Blown up rotations matter. But hey, stick with the "I hate it because it's new" thing. Worked so well in 1994, huh?
   39. Booey Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4549344)
I still think the rules governing the sport at the time were an inferior way to run a championship baseball season, and it got worse last year.

These are not contradictory positions.


I agree that these positions aren't contradictory. I was just commenting on SBB's specific examples, since I'd guess that most the fans of those examples likely had the exact opposite preference when the shoe was on the other foot (i.e. when their teams were making the playoffs as a WC rather than as a division winner).

I like the current WC format better than the old one, FWIW. But to each their own.
   40. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4549346)
More playoff games are better, that is a universal truth that is not debatable.

I'm glad for all his mistakes, Selig has almost gotten us to the intuitively correct playoff alignment, which is to have have 3 wild card teams, and instead of the 1 game play in, they and the worst division winner are matched up to play in a 5 game series to determine which two advance to face the two best division winners.

And the playoffs should have started a week ago to ensure they end before November, while all non playoff teams should be in the midst of a season ending two week round robin to decide draft seeding for next year, giving even Marlin and Astro fans meaningful games to watch.

Or we can go with Sugar Bear Blank's preference to make 90% of September games meaningless exhibitions with no rooting interest for anyone who isn't a degenerate sports gambler.

Gee, which is better?
   41. I Am Not a Number Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4549358)
One camp has the idea of a wild card as a fundamental travesty. So, having two would-be wild card teams fighting it out in a play-in game is just something that suitably befits such a travesty.

And I would normally agree, except that three small divisions often means that the three division winners are not necessarily the best teams in the league. Which means that the wild card team is less an ugly stepsister than a legitimate playoff participant whose misfortune comes from the division they find themselves in. In which case I find myself not uncomfortable with a wild card winner being one of the four playoff teams, but I do find myself uncomfortable with idea of team #5 even being in a position to knock off team #4, and in what is tantamount to a coin flip no less.

Ideally, if it's to be 4 playoff teams out of 15 in each league, then I'd like to see a single division in each league, with the top four teams advancing. This will never happen, of course, because it would demand a balanced schedule and there would be numerous out-of-time-zone games which throws off TV schedules, etc.

   42. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4549360)
Blown up rotations matter.


With all the stupid off days, the AL Wild Card will only have a single starter unavailable. A lot of WC races came down to the wire before. I suspect that the average WC game winner under the current system is in better shape rotation-wise (not to mention hitters getting several off days) than they were under the old system.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4549363)
So first-losers have to fight with second-losers for the right to play in October. Wah.


Way to miss the point.

The value of the playoffs to the participants adds to 100 percent. Each division winner's share is 25 percent, same as it was in the old system. In the old system, the wild card's share was 25 percent.

Today, the first runner-up now has a 12.5 percent share of the playoff pie. The second runner-up also has a 12.5 percent share. The winner of that game will assume the same 25 percent share* as the old wild card.

It hasn't made winning the division meaningfully more valuable. Whatever damage it did to the first wild card was spread not to the other division winners, but distributed entirely to a team that previously would have been left out in the cold altogether.

* Roughly. There's probably a slight disadvantage to the play-in game winner. Of course, whatever disadvantage is absorbed by the single division champion, not spread to the other teams.

Blown up rotations matter. But hey, stick with the "I hate it because it's new" thing. Worked so well in 1994, huh?


That's assuming: a) rotations for the WC participants will get blowed up, which will happen sometimes, but not always, b) that blowed-up rotations have great significance, which the results of playoff series these last 20 years show to be not really the case (do we really need to remind you of how much value the Braves playoff-built-rotation had in the actual postseason), and c) will only happen to the WC-game participants, which isn't the case. The new scenario will ultimately lead to more genuine Games 163. For instance, if Pitt and St. Lou tie for the NL Central, first loser Cincy will get to sit on the sideline and await the rotation-blown loser in the play-in. Meanwhile, the rotation blown-Central champ will be at a disadvantage against potentially inferior LA in the NLDS.

But hey, stick with the "I hate it because it's new" thing. Worked so well in 1994, huh?


Did my objections to the new wildcard system lead to the cancellation of the World Series? I'm terribly sorry.

   44. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 24, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4549365)
I would have preferred that they go back to 2 divisions if they wanted to add more wild cards. This year is an exception, but usually one wild card team has a better record that one of the divisional winners (like Detroit last year, which had the 7th best record in the AL). Eliminating one division would increase the odds that the best teams made the playoffs. If you wanted to reward the division winners, give them a round off. Have the next 4 teams have a 3 game playoff to meet the idle teams. You could also do it with one division in each league.
   45. Rusty Priske Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4549449)
I like the second Wild Card.

It makes winning the division MEAN something. It is a lot better than it was when there was only one.

Now for the people who want NO Wild Card, I think you only get that if you expand and add a division per league.

Two divisions per league with this many teams eliminates too many teams too early. This isn't just about peopel tuning out the later season games, but it also leads to the 'right move' of trading away top players before the trade deadline. This leads to even MORE fan apathy. Not good.
   46. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4549461)
It hasn't made winning the division meaningfully more valuable.


I don't think this follows. It has made winning the Wild Card, by your own math, half as valuable as it was before. So winning the division is perforce twice as valuable as winning the Wild Card, whereas before they were equally valuable.

   47. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4549466)
More playoff games are better, that is a universal truth that is not debatable.


Again, I'll raise the same objection. If 25 teams made the playoffs, it would be an "ice cream for dinner every night" scenario.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4549472)
I don't think this follows. It has made winning the Wild Card, by your own math, half as valuable as it was before. So winning the division is perforce twice as valuable as winning the Wild Card, whereas before they were equally valuable.


No, it's made finishing runner-up half as valuable as it previously was. But it's done that through weakening finishing fourth*, not increasing the value of finishing first. That lost value was turned over to the fifth-place finisher. The value of winning the division hasn't moved.

Teams that win their division have the exact same chance** of reaching the CS, winning the pennant or winning the World Series this year as they did in 2011. There is essentially no difference between the two formats as far as the division winners are concerned.

Thus, it hasn't made winning the division more valuable.

* Fourth isn't necessarily an accurate description of the first wild card, but it's easier than repeating, team with the best record among the non-division winners.

** Other than whatever tiny odds improvements comes from the weakened wild card due to playing the play-in game. And whatever small effect exists is felt by only two teams, not the other division winners. You can say that the new system makes finishing with the best record more valuable, but even there the gain is very slight.
   49. Jay Z Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4549473)

I don't think this follows. It has made winning the Wild Card, by your own math, half as valuable as it was before. So winning the division is perforce twice as valuable as winning the Wild Card, whereas before they were equally valuable.


But you can only do that by rewarding some other team. If the Cardinals are in 1st, Pirates 2nd, Reds 3rd, then yes the Pirates have half the chance, but you are just taking it away from the Pirates and giving it to the Reds. I don't think you are helping the other division winners at all by sometimes knocking out #4 for #5. Heck, if #4 and #5 are close, and #5 can beat #4 on the road, then maybe #5 really is better at that point in time, and you're hurting the division winners. Were the NL division winners helped last year by the Cardinals beating the Braves? It doesn't seem likely.

The new system owes its popularity to people who favor a punishment narrative, who see punishment as an end in itself, and can't see that you have to help an even worse team to make the system work.
   50. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4549474)
And the playoffs should have started a week ago to ensure they end before November, while all non playoff teams should be in the midst of a season ending two week round robin to decide draft seeding for next year, giving even Marlin and Astro fans meaningful games to watch.


Is it preferable to win or lose this tournament? If (as I assume) the goal is to win and the standings more or less hold, aren't we giving the very best draft choice to a pretty good team that didn't make the playoffs, while simultaneously allowing the Marlins to lose for the future, not just the present?
   51. Karl from NY Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4549485)
I'm glad for all his mistakes, Selig has almost gotten us to the intuitively correct playoff alignment, which is to have have 3 wild card teams, and instead of the 1 game play in, they and the worst division winner are matched up to play in a 5 game series to determine which two advance to face the two best division winners.


This is identical to the NFL from 1990 through 2001 (except for the series length.) Just in case anyone's looking for a point of comparison.

And it is a pretty good plan. A bye through a playoff round is just about the perfect reward for the top two regular season teams.
   52. Russ Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4549492)
I would have preferred that they go back to 2 divisions if they wanted to add more wild cards.


In spite of this potentially hurting the Pirates this year, this would have been my preference as well. In fact, in my own "dream" scenario, they would expand the league to 32 teams (I don't care where, actually, although Montreal and a third New York team would be my preference), then go to 2 divisions per league with 8 teams per division. 4 division winners and 4 second place teams make the playoffs. The second place team from division 1 in league * plays the first place team from division 2 and vice versa. Then the winners go to the LCS and then onto the WS.

Basically creates the following good scenarios:

1) The only boring division races are when two top teams distance themselves from the other 6 bottom feeders (probably a very unlikely scenario).
2) It makes sense to have an unbalanced schedule because games against your own division mean more, which helps travel, etc.
3) The four division set up is what we had in my youth and therefore it is what I view as the best for me.

My four divisions:

NL East: Atl/NYM/Phi/Was/Fla/Pitt/Cinc/Brooklyn-Long Island-Whatevers
NL West: LAD/SD/ChiC/Stl/Col/Mil/Ari/SF
AL East: Bos/NYY/Balt/Tor/Mtl/Cle/TB/Det
Al West: Tex/Hou/KC/ChiSox/Oak/LAA/Sea/Minn


   53. BDC Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4549494)
Russ, that's very much what I'd like to see. It's unlikely (even if we do get expansion) because it's a perception that you can't market an eighth-place team anymore (let alone a 12th or 16th). It's really hard to market a 15th-place team dressed up as a fifth-place team, IMHO, but the illusion prevails that they're not that far out of first, I guess.
   54. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4549504)
No, it's made finishing runner-up half as valuable as it previously was. But it's done that through weakening finishing fourth*, not increasing the value of finishing first. That lost value was turned over to the fifth-place finisher. The value of winning the division hasn't moved.


Then why would the Cardinals (or Pirates or Reds) care whether or not they finish first? Because their only choice is first or newly-weakened fourth. By diminishing the value of the safety net, MLB has made winning the division more imperative, and thus more important than it used to be.

It used to be that first place was a Cadillac, and second place was a Chrysler. Now first place is a Cadillac, and second and third place are both a set of steak knives. (Fourth place remains, of course, you're fired.) The Cadillac may not be any more valuable than it was last year - but given the alternatives, it's more important that you do whatever you can to win it.
   55. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4549505)

Actually, they don't. They aren't buying the "races" for the wild card. Covered in another thread a couple days ago.


I assume you're referring to the Sept. malaise in fan attendance. Agreed. But you have spent the whole time arguing for less play off teams in order to make divisional and/or pennants more meaningful...

But then you just referred to the well documented Sept. malaise. Do fans really care about a Sept race for a division? The pt. is citing the Sept. malaise cuts against your argument just as much as it does the other guys argument.

I guess it comes down to tradition and what you like.

Personally, I prefer to watch Oct playoff series over Sept pennant and/or divisional races. I am not sure, but you seem to prefer the latter.

The problem with three rounds of playoffs has been the strain it puts on pitching, the system might be better with more off days. I like the play in/WC games as these are one game do or die games. I think that's a pretty good compromise, there's no reason to drag out these series; for one thing it hurts pitching, for another lets get to the divisional series already.

Is anyone still clamoring for their to be only two pennant winners in the playoffs? If so you'd be really hard pressed to determine who the best teams are this year wouldnt you?

Is it possible to agree that given the limitated accuracy of a 162 w/l record, no less than 8 teams deserve to make the playoffs?
   56. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4549509)
Then why would the Cardinals (or Pirates or Reds) care whether or not they finish first? Because they're only choice is first or newly-weakened fourth. By diminishing the value of the safety net, MLB has made winning the division more imperative, and thus more important than it used to be.


The value of finishing fourth has been weakened, which is why the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds would prefer first to it. Finishing first has not been strengthened. You can dance around it all you want, but the simple fact is that finishing first has the exact same value in 2013 as it did in 2011. It's attractiveness grows in relation to finishing fourth, but its value is the same.

And, of course, it only applies to one division in each league.
   57. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4549510)
I've already gotten used to the second wild card, but I'd like it a lot better if the opening round were at least 2 of 3 rather than a one game shootout, especially in cases where WC #1 finished way ahead of WC #2. But from a marketing standpoint I can totally see why Selig and the owners would instigate this.

Ideally you'd have 32 teams broken down into four 8-team divisions or eight 4-teamers, but I'm not sure where those extra two teams would be coming from when they're already stuck with those two lemon franchises in Florida.
   58. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4549514)
Is anyone still clamoring for their to be only two pennant winners in the playoffs? If so you'd be really hard pressed to determine who the best teams are this year wouldnt you?


I'd take it (although would prefer a CS round). It's kind of the ultimate "reward the division winner" mentality.
   59. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 24, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4549515)
A bye through a playoff round is just about the perfect reward for the top two regular season teams.


In baseball, I have yet to be completely convinced that it isn't a disadvantage. These guys play every day for months. Asking them to sit for a week and then go full-out is... unexpected.
   60. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: September 24, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4549533)
You can dance around it all you want, but the simple fact is that finishing first has the exact same value in 2013 as it did in 2011. It's attractiveness grows in relation to finishing fourth, but its value is the same.
Why are you looking at "attractiveness" in relative terms but not "value"?
   61. Karl from NY Posted: September 24, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4549592)
In baseball, I have yet to be completely convinced that it isn't a disadvantage. These guys play every day for months. Asking them to sit for a week and then go full-out is... unexpected.

Happens all the time already, when a team wins an LCS or LDS quickly then has to wait around forever thanks to the Fox TV schedule. There's been no correlation between rest time and winning the next series. A bye is a fine reward for a top team, letting them bypass one level of small-sample-size knockout risk and then they have to prove themselves on the field.
   62. AndrewJ Posted: September 24, 2013 at 07:38 PM (#4549654)
I can live with the wild card. I can even live with two wild cards. What I can't live with is being snottily dismissed as a "purist" or "traditionalist" merely for questioning the efficacy of the wild card format in determining a world champion.
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4549868)
Why are you looking at "attractiveness" in relative terms but not "value"?


Because the value doesn't change. A first-place finish has the exact same value it did under the old system. The only thing that's changed is the value of finishing as the top runner-up, and the value of finishing as the second runner-up.

Let me put it this way. Say you have a golf tournament. After the first-round, the field of 15 is narrowed down to a foursome, who then compete in a winner-take-all stroke play event. Low man wins.

The next year, you decide that the guy who finishes fourth shouldn't be on equal footing with the other three players, so he competes in a 3-hole playoff with the fifth-place finisher to earn the final spot in the foursome, which proceeds exactly as before. In this case, you've weakened the value of finishing fourth (by half), but left the value for the other three spots the same. The removed value is assumed by the fifth-place finisher.

The following year, you decide to reformat it again. This time, the fourth-place finisher automatically qualifies for the foursome, but he must give each of the other three players one shot per side. In this case, you've both weakened the value of finishing fourth and strengthened finishing in the top three positions. The lost value is distributed upward.

The two wild card system is the former, not the latter. Its set-up does not reward finishing first more than the old system did. It merely punishes finishing second more. But the spoils of that punishment isn't distributed to the teams above the first runner-up. They are given entirely to the second runner-up, which previously was left out of the playoffs altogether.

But even if you want to talk about how finishing first has more relative value against finishing second than it did before, then you have to acknowledge that finishing first has less value against finishing third (well, you know what I mean) than it did before.
   64. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: September 25, 2013 at 03:05 AM (#4549944)
But even if you want to talk about how finishing first has more relative value against finishing second than it did before, then you have to acknowledge that finishing first has less value against finishing third (well, you know what I mean) than it did before.

Look, I'm sorry to make you go through all the examples, we're just using different definitions of value. But, "even if you want to"? It's a discussion of the value of making the playoffs as a division winner vs wildcard vs missing the playoffs, following changes prompted by a GM's admission that the prior structure had encouraged his team to play for the wildcard instead of the division -- a relative interpretation of value seems reasonable to assume, not something that requires acknowledgement of statistical minutae to broach (and I do acknowledge that, though I question its relevance-- the three outcomes to consider are division, WC, miss the playoffs). It means more to win the division vs win the wild card this year, whether that's because it's more attractive or more valuable or whatever.

I get that you're concerned with exclusivity and, with a blank slate I'd prefer to see a 2-4 team postseason along with a more balanced schedule, but the problem is the number of divisions not the difference between 1/2 wildcards. So long as we're stuck with three divisions, I think the new approach is a more rational structure.
   65. Rob_Wood Posted: September 25, 2013 at 03:29 AM (#4549946)

SOSH is missing the point I think. While it is true that each division winner is 25% likely to win the pennant in each scheme (assuming coin flips), the likelihood that a wild card wins the pennant shrinks from 25% to 12.5%.

Of course, it is this differential that players wanted, a division winner should have a higher likelihood of winning the pennant compared to a wild card team (a team that does not win a division). The new scheme accomplishes this quite well.

Let's get off the semantics and admit what is going on.
   66. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 25, 2013 at 05:09 AM (#4549949)
the likelihood that a wild card wins the pennant shrinks from 25% to 12.5%.

Nope. The likelihood that the wild card team wins the pennant is still 25%. It just that now the wildcard team is a 50-50 shot at being a fifth place team instead of a 100% chance of being a fourth place team. Things have been watered down even more, yet billed as an improvement.

a division winner should have a higher likelihood of winning the pennant compared to a wild card team (a team that does not win a division). The new scheme accomplishes this quite well.

Nope again. The Cards (division winner) have a 25% chance and the Reds/Pirates play-in game winner (non division winner) has a 25% chance. Instead of awarding the wild card based on 162 games (at least a somewhat valid way of determining something), we have gone to a coin flip (a BS way of determining something). And yet, some have accepted this as an improvement. Ludicrous.

I'll still watch October baseball, but I don't watch nearly the September baseball I used to simply because the quality of the teams involved in the races is lower. The race for fifth between a bunch of .540 teams is not intriguing. At all.
   67. Rob_Wood Posted: September 25, 2013 at 05:19 AM (#4549950)

Are you stupid?????
   68. BDC Posted: September 25, 2013 at 08:57 AM (#4549982)
I must say, #67 wins the thread.
   69. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4549991)
If you're going to have three divisions, I prefer this format. It only took 17 years to get it right, so congrats Bud.
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4550037)
Are you stupid?????


He may be, but not here.

Look, I'm sorry to make you go through all the examples, we're just using different definitions of value. But, "even if you want to"? It's a discussion of the value of making the playoffs as a division winner vs wildcard vs missing the playoffs,


No, we're not. You're just limiting your assessment of the format to the first vs. second part of the equation.

Let's try another example.

The Cardinals lose their last four games. The Pirates lose tonight and the Reds win. The Reds and Pirates then split the first two games of their final series.

The winner of that final game between Pitt and Cincy will be tied for first, still alive to claim first alone in Game 163. The loser will fall into third-place.

Under the 2011 format, this would be a winner take all game. Winner gets a full playoff share, loser goes home. Under the new one, the loser gets the still-valuable wild card play-in berth.

All of the increased relative value of finishing first vs. runner-up has been transferred to the lost value of finishing first vs. second runner-up. That's it. Finishing first has not been strengthened at all.

The new system punishes finishing first runner-up. It rewards finishing second runner-up. It leaves finishing first alone.

If that floats your boat, more power to you. But please don't suggest that the new system does a better job of rewarding finishing first, as many claim. because it simply doesn't.
   71. Karl from NY Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4550057)
Nope. The likelihood that the wild card team wins the pennant is still 25%


The likelihood that ANY wild card team wins the pennant is still 25%. But the likelihood that a PARTICULAR wild card team wins the pennant is now 12.5%.

Only the latter value is meaningful for any practical purpose. If you are a Pirate, you don't care that there's a 25% chance of some WC team winning the pennant, you care about YOUR chance which is that 12.5%. You only care about a single endpoint, not the sum of multiple endpoints into an aggregated notion of the WC winner.

Bump it up to the top level to see the stark difference between these concepts. If you are a Dodger, that the National League has a 50% chance of winning the World Series doesn't matter anything to you, since that's a collective multiple endpoint. You care that you have a 12.5% chance, the single endpoint of your team.

BTW, SoSH is totally correct, aside from the minor advantage of the few days rest as a division winner vs burning your best available starting pitcher.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4550074)
Only the latter value is meaningful for any practical purpose.


Not true. To the division champions (the one's this argument is focusing on), the fact that a particular wild card entry only has a 12.5 percent chance of winning the pennant means nothing. The Red Sox don't care that the Rays only have a 12.5 percent chance of winning, since the Indians also have a 12.5 percent chance. All that matters to the Red Sox is that their chance is 25 percent, which mirrors their share from two years previous.*

* Well, would have been, had they not tripped over their dicks in spectacularly awful fashion.
   73. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4550092)
#72 - Yup, the chance that a wild card team wins is unchanged, therefore the chances for division winners is also unchanged. Only now the wildcard team could be even less worthy. I don't see why this is so hard to grasp. Atlanta has exaxctly the same chance now as they did in the 2000s. That is, of course, none.
   74. . Posted: September 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4550112)
If that floats your boat, more power to you. But please don't suggest that the new system does a better job of rewarding finishing first, as many claim. because it simply doesn't.

Of course it does. Your road to the championship is far easier relative to not finishing first than it was before.
   75. SoSH U at work Posted: September 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4550117)
Of course it does. Your road to the championship is far easier relative to not finishing first than it was before.


Unless you finished third relative to not finishing first. Then it's easier.
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2013 at 09:18 PM (#4555245)
Continued from Omnichatter...


Think of 2004 in the American League. If we applied the new rules, winning the AL East would gain value for the Yankees against the wildcard, but the hypothetical lost value to Oakland (the 2nd wildcard) wouldn't affect them in any real sense and so does not balance out the gain relative to the first wildcard.


This is actually a perfect example of the point I'm making.

Under the new rule, finishing first in the AL East would have much more meaning, as the runner-up now has to play a play-in game instead of starting the postseasn on equal footing.

But in the AL West, what was a dogfight for the single playoff ducat becomes watered down, as the runner-up has a backdoor entry into the postseason.

The Angels and A's were involved in a tight, winner-take-all playoff race for the AL West crown in 2004, without the wild card net to save them. In the two WC system, that is a lesser race.

The lesson, as always, is that what the second wild card gives in terms of an improved race one place, it takes away from another race somewhere else in the league.
   77. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM (#4555475)
The lesson, as always, is that what the second wild card gives in terms of an improved race one place, it takes away from another race somewhere else in the league.
This is true of any two playoff formats. One works better in some situations, worse in others.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4555501)
This is true of any two playoff formats. One works better in some situations, worse in others.


Absolutely. I've said that all along.

My main problem with the system isn't that it will lead to worse races or less meaningful divisions. On that count, it should generally break even.

My objection is that it breaks even on the division/race front while further lowering the bar for playoff admission. And, and this one is merely speculative, because I believe that having five playoff teams per league gets us closer to having six. And I don't think six comes with any upside.

As playoff expansions go, this is the least objectionable possible. I just don't see, when you look at the total picture, how it's an improvement the way so many others do. It simply doesn't add up.

   79. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2013 at 12:43 AM (#4555524)
Under the 2011 format, this would be a winner take all game. Winner gets a full playoff share, loser goes home. Under the new one, the loser gets the still-valuable wild card play-in berth.

All of the increased relative value of finishing first vs. runner-up has been transferred to the lost value of finishing first vs. second runner-up. That's it. Finishing first has not been strengthened at all.

The new system punishes finishing first runner-up. It rewards finishing second runner-up. It leaves finishing first alone.


But this seems like a situation that will almost never happen. You're talking about the first place team having a larger cushion than ever before because now it can drop all the way to third. That's undoubtedly true, but it's not something that's going to come up a lot. "The bad news, guys, is that if we keep losing games we'll fall out of first and get stuck in the play-in game. The good news is that if that's going to happen, we can lose even more games, because falling to third place is no problem."

Again, to extend the idea and make the problem with your perspective clearer... suppose we had 4 wild cards: the division leader has a 100% chance of playing in the NLDS, and the wild card teams are all 25%. If I increased the number of wild cards to 10, the division leader remains at 100% and the wild card teams get bumped down to 10% likelihood. This sure looks to me like I have increased the incentive to win the division - but your argument would be that it was counterbalanced by the fact that the division leader can be comforted by the fact that he can now fall not just to 5th place but all the way to 11th and still be in the mix. But that's ridiculous, it would never happen or be relevant.
   80. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4555531)
But this seems like a situation that will almost never happen. You're talking about the first place team having a larger cushion than ever before because now it can drop all the way to third. That's undoubtedly true, but it's not something that's going to come up a lot. "The bad news, guys, is that if we keep losing games we'll fall out of first and get stuck in the play-in game. The good news is that if that's going to happen, we can lose even more games, because falling to third place is no problem."


That's only this year, and I mentioned it to point out where the value has been transferred. But the fundamental issue will come up, in one way or another, every year:

Look at this finish, from 2004, as it brings the issue into the clearest focus:

AL East
New York Yankees NYY 101 61 .623 --
Boston Red Sox BOS 98 64 .605 3.0

AL Central
Minnesota Twins MIN 92 70 .568 --
Chicago White Sox CHW 83 79 .512 9.0

AL West
Anaheim Angels ANA 92 70 .568 --
Oakland Athletics OAK 91 71 .562 1.0

Now, the two wildcard supporter will look at this league finish, point to the fact that the Yankees and Red Sox were merely jockeying for position for prizes of almost equal worth, and claim there is a flaw in that set-up. And I would agree with them.

However, what they're consistently ignoring in championing the fix that's been implemented is that this previous system delivered us a division race in the AL West that was the height of playoff excitement. Two teams, battling down to the wire, winner moves on, loser goes home.

If you apply the two wild card system to this particular year, then the Angels-A's race loses considerable juice, because the second-place finisher (the league's second runner-up) now has a valuable consolation prize, rather than a long winter ahead. In this division race, the "importance of finishing first," or the "incentive to win the division," was profoundly, incalculably greater in the previous system than the current one. That's where the tradeoff is being made.

Ultimately, what you've gained in terms of the AL East race is lost in the AL West. What meaning has been given to the division champions featuring the best also-ran has been taken away from the division champ leading the second-best also-ran.

Now, as I said in the other thread, if you think two loser-takes-half races are better than one winner-takes-all, one winner-takes-none race, that's a personal preference that I wouldn't try to argue anyone out of. But you can't really argue that winning the division is strengthened in the new system, because it simply hasn't been. The prize for winning a division title was the exact same then as now, and whatever relative gain that exists between the division winner and the first runner-up in this new system is matched by the relative loss between another division winner and the second runner-up.
   81. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: October 01, 2013 at 01:27 AM (#4555536)
...this previous system delivered us a division race in the AL West that was the height of playoff excitement. Two teams, battling down to the wire, winner moves on, loser goes home.


YOu keep averring that a divisional race is the height of excitement, but it's not to me. In these races, many perhaps most of the games are played against 3rd parties, who may not be playing for anything but pride or next years paycheck. It doesnt thrill me like it does you.

I prefer head to head, series match ups. I think that brings out something different than regular season. I think it's better than playing third parties, your mileage might vary.

I realize this does not address the issue of "division winner, strengthened or not," which resemebles a sort of semantic debate.

Instead of arguing whether the divisional winner is strengthened or not let me ask SOShu this:

Do you think this years playoff format move "fair" then last years?
   82. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2013 at 01:28 AM (#4555537)
Thank you SOSH U. I understand your point now. You may be right.
   83. rr Posted: October 01, 2013 at 01:43 AM (#4555538)
SoSH,

One problem you have here is that you are arguing taste as if it is fact,("height of playoff excitement") and another is that you are conflating competitive ecology from the standpoint of a generic fan with the value of winning the division to an individual team.

No one is arguing that there aren't trade-offs in the macrosense, and that different systems look better in different years, as we see in 2005:

NYY 95-67
BOS 95-67

CHW 99-63
CLE 93-69

LAA 95-67
OAK 88-74

Once the Yankees and the Red Sox had beaten Cleveland, they more or less made like Derek Bell and the Federal Government on that last day. If they had been trying to avoid the play-in game, that would not have happened. The counter, of course, is that they had to beat Cleveland to get in, and in the new system, they wouldn't have. But you consistenly present the play-in game as if it is a lifeline, and, in some sense, it is. But it also a gunfight: start a little slow, and you're dead, and that is the part you're not seeing IMO.
Win the division and you avoid having to be in that gunfight--that is how the second WC makes winning the division more valuable.

Looking at tomorrow's Reds/Pirates game, the Pirates beat the Reds over 162. But because they failed to beat the Cardinals over 162, beating the Reds over 162 could be a lot less meaningful if the Reds put up 4 runs in the 2nd inning tomorrow. Whoever wins that game will be in the mix with the division winners. But whoever loses it is going home, and they have to play this game in the first place because they didn't win the division.
   84. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2013 at 02:13 AM (#4555543)


One problem you have here is that you are arguing taste as if it is fact,("height of playoff excitement") and another is that you are conflating competitive ecology from the standpoint of a generic fan with the value of winning the division to an individual team.



No, I'm not. If you say you want the division to "mean something," then you have to recognize that finishing first in that AL West race in 2004 (or any other race involving the second runner-up) meant more then than it would now. Or, you're just arguing taste.

I suppose one might think that a single loser-takes-half race/division is actually preferable or more meaningful than both a winner takes all system or a winner takes none system, though I don't know how in the hell anyone other than Goldilocks would begin to make a coherent argument in support of it.


No one is arguing that there aren't trade-offs in the macrosense, and that different systems look better in different years, as we see in 2005:


I beg to differ Robin. I think many people fail to acknowledge there are tradeoffs. That's part of the problem.

Win the division and you avoid having to be in that gunfight--that is how the second WC makes winning the division more valuable.


It makes that one division more valuable. It makes the other division less valuable, a point you say everyone acknowledges but few seem to.


Looking at tomorrow's Reds/Pirates game, the Pirates beat the Reds over 162. But because they failed to beat the Cardinals over 162, beating the Reds over 162 could be a lot less meaningful if the Reds put up 4 runs in the 2nd inning tomorrow. Whoever wins that game will be in the mix with the division winners. But whoever loses it is going home, and they have to play this game in the first place because they didn't win the division.


And, if they'd been operating under 2011's rules, we would have had a scintillating final weekend, rather than what we had, where each team kind of wanted to win, but not at the expense of the only game that really mattered. You know, the Yankee-Red Sox indifference the new system was designed to rid baseball of (obviously, in this case it involved two wild cards rather than a wild card and a division winner, but considering that was the only race we had in the NL, the effect was the same).

I'm fully aware of the upside of the current system. I recognize it, and acknowledge that it will change a limited number of races for the better. I also think it's more than overcome by the downside AND the fact that we're now allowing even weaker teams into the playoffs.

   85. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2013 at 02:24 AM (#4555545)
It makes that one division more valuable. It makes the other division less valuable, a point you say everyone acknowledges but few seem to.


In 2004, it rewards the exceptional division winner (101 win Yankees) and it punishes the mediocre division winner (92 win Angels). Is this always true? Is that a good thing?
   86. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: October 01, 2013 at 02:46 AM (#4555548)
Chances of winning the pennant:

Two divisions:
Division winners - 50%

Three division system, one wild card:
Division winners - 25%
Fourth place team - 25%

Three divisions, two wild cards:
Division winners - 25%
Fourth place team - 12.5%
Fifth place team - 12.5%

There is no progress in rewarding division winners, only in distributing to rewards to less and less deserving teams. And it will continue this way as long as someone feels there is an extra nickel to be made. Trying to figure out which will generate 'better' races is a fools errand, it will change every year. The only sure thing is that the regular season becomes less meaningful every time Bud gets an idea.
   87. BrianBrianson Posted: October 01, 2013 at 06:48 AM (#4555556)
Okay, I've thought about it, and the wildcard expansion definitely lowers the value of finishing first (and any spot apart from fifth). Because of the wildcard playin, the wildcard team will be (on average) slightly stronger than if it was just the fourth place team (fifth place teams that made trades, promoted minor leaguers, ain't suffering injuries, etc, over fourth place teams that didn't - on average).

Since the quality of the field of competition has increased, the value of finishing first correspondingly decreases, as they're less likely to win it all.
   88. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 01, 2013 at 07:54 AM (#4555568)
FTR, here's the lowest WP of the postseason-qualifying teams

2012 NFL--- .625
2012-13 NHL .573
2013 MLB--- .564
2012-13 NBA .463
   89. McCoy Posted: October 01, 2013 at 08:04 AM (#4555574)
So this year in the NL every single team with a winning record save one gets a chance to win the world series while over in the AL 6 of the 9 winning teams got a chance to win the world series. How is this different than in the NBA, NFL, or NHL?
   90. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 01, 2013 at 08:57 AM (#4555600)
I dunno, but this guy looks like he could answer your question. I think the Injustice Exterminator is on the next cliff over.
   91. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4555605)

2012 NFL--- .625
2012-13 NHL .573
2013 MLB--- .564
2012-13 NBA .463


Hockey's percentage is not based on the same model as the other sports. From a W-L perspective, it would be much lower.
   92. . Posted: October 01, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4555614)
Hockey's percentage is not based on the same model as the other sports. From a W-L perspective, it would be much lower.

That's a relatively minor quibble, but it doesn't matter anyway. The comparison doesn't make any sense, because the nature of baseball does not lend itself to multi-round playoffs in the sense that the term is used in the other sports.
   93. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4555661)
The comparison doesn't make any sense, because the nature of baseball does not lend itself to multi-round playoffs in the sense that the term is used in the other sports.

I posted those numbers just out of curiosity, but I'm sure that if you went back to the start of the wild card era that baseball would come out the best. Personally I think that given the competing interests of regular season integrity vs not wanting to kill late season interest completely, baseball and the NFL have it about right, while the NBA and NHL are way over the line in tipping the scales towards the latter interest.

Obviously all this is purely a matter of aesthetic preference, and nothing else, because there's no way to make up a postseason format with 30 teams that doesn't come with serious drawbacks, unless you contract back to 16 teams and eliminate interleague play, which is a total non-starter.
   94. . Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4555675)
Obviously all this is purely a matter of aesthetic preference, and nothing else, because there's no way to make up a postseason format with 30 teams that doesn't come with serious drawbacks, unless you contract back to 16 teams and eliminate interleague play, which is a total non-starter.

I guess I missed the part where jumping from 26 to 30 teams means you just have to expand the playoffs. Baseball had 17 years of 26 teams and 4 in the playoffs. Those were the best 17 years in the sport's history, hands down, and 1987-93 was probably the very best era in the sport's history.

kill late season interest completely

Nobody was buying the jerry-rigged "playoff races" this September.
   95. BrianBrianson Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4555692)
and 1987-93 was probably the very best era in the sport's history.


You were born in 1976-1979.
   96. . Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4555697)
You were born in 1976-1979.

A decade-plus before, but nice try.
   97. villageidiom Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4555702)
I understand SOSH U's point, and embrace it. However...

In yesterday's game the Rays led from the start, and never trailed. Yet it was a damn exciting game because both teams were in it and it was an elimination game for both teams. Never mind that it was between the 4th and 5th best teams in the AL - is it often that the three best teams are the three division winners?* - or that we probably all felt going into the game that the Rangers would find a way to lose nonetheless. It was a great game.

MLB is guaranteeing at least two such games every season. I am in favor of this, not because it makes first place more valuable, nor because I like having more teams in the playoffs. I am in favor of it because baseball is awesome, and when they are elimination games for both teams they are more awesome. (Entirely subjective, I know.)

* It could be that the prize of winning the division and not facing the one-game elimination has incentivized teams to win the division, making it more likely that the wild card teams will be the 4th and 5th best records in the league, instead of the 2nd or 3rd best as has happened numerous times in the past. Looking at the AL this year, there were wild card contenders in each division, and each division-winner finished in the top 3 in the league. In the NL, the west teams didn't nearly contend for the WC... and the NL West champion finished behind the top WC team. Is this connected? (The anecdotal counter-argument to my anecdotal argument is the NL East.) I'll be curious in a few years to look at how this plays out.
   98. villageidiom Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4555706)
You were born in 1976-1979.

A decade-plus before, but nice try.
The counter to this would be to suggest you matured a decade-plus later than everyone else. Thankfully you can rely on your post history to defend against that notion.
   99. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4555718)
Obviously all this is purely a matter of aesthetic preference, and nothing else, because there's no way to make up a postseason format with 30 teams that doesn't come with serious drawbacks, unless you contract back to 16 teams and eliminate interleague play, which is a total non-starter.

I guess I missed the part where jumping from 26 to 30 teams means you just have to expand the playoffs. Baseball had 17 years of 26 teams and 4 in the playoffs. Those were the best 17 years in the sport's history, hands down, and 1987-93 was probably the very best era in the sport's history.


As I said, this is purely a matter of aesthetic preference.

----------------------------------------

and 1987-93 was probably the very best era in the sport's history.


You were born in 1976-1979.

Man, I feel 15 all over again. Thanks, Brian!
   100. . Posted: October 01, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4555726)
As I said, this is purely a matter of aesthetic preference.

Uh, no. It's a matter of remaining true to the sport's mechanics, and preventing it from proclaiming unworthy teams its "champion." That isn't "aesthetic."

Your suggestion that because the league is 30 teams, rather than 26, it absolutely just have more than 4 teams in the playoffs is the purely "aesthetic" observation.

The postseason in baseball is a random crapshoot. That alone militates toward allowing fewer teams in. Thus a postseason of a small number of champions works, a postseason of a third of the league and teams in the same division playing each other doesn't. That isn't merely "aesthetic."
Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Andere Richtingen
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - College Football Bowl Spectacular (December 2021 - January 2022)
(26 - 6:43pm, Dec 06)
Last: The Honorable Ardo

NewsblogMcCaffery: Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard passed Hall of Fame eye test
(102 - 6:43pm, Dec 06)
Last: LargeBill

NewsblogHere is Mets' preliminary list of managerial candidates
(10 - 6:34pm, Dec 06)
Last: Lassus

NewsblogBaseball Hall of Fame ballot 2022: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz join; Bonds, Clemens, Schilling in final year
(98 - 6:21pm, Dec 06)
Last: dark

NewsblogA’s reportedly eyeing Tropicana site for possible Strip ballpark
(28 - 5:49pm, Dec 06)
Last: Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc

NewsblogMinnie, Gil, Buck among 6 elected to Hall
(81 - 5:43pm, Dec 06)
Last: Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - Domestic Cups, Congested Fixture Lists and Winter Breaks
(44 - 5:10pm, Dec 06)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogWhat Does Endeavor, Silver Lake’s Push Into Baseball Mean For the Minors?
(5 - 5:06pm, Dec 06)
Last: John Northey

NewsblogOT - NHL Thread
(35 - 4:50pm, Dec 06)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogNBA 2021-2022 Season Thread
(1271 - 2:40pm, Dec 06)
Last: Fourth True Outcome

NewsblogMLB, union stopped blood testing for HGH due to pandemic
(37 - 1:45pm, Dec 06)
Last: Ben Broussard Ramjet

Hall of MeritMock Hall of Fame Ballot 2022
(35 - 1:38pm, Dec 06)
Last: cookiedabookie

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1895 Discussion
(7 - 11:23am, Dec 06)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogReport: MLB Owners Vote Unanimously to Institute Lockout
(35 - 9:28am, Dec 06)
Last: dejarouehg

NewsblogMarcell Ozuna was choking wife as cops burst in, police video shows
(62 - 8:37am, Dec 06)
Last: Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB)

Page rendered in 0.5895 seconds
48 querie(s) executed