Posts Tagged ‘wild card’

The Sports Revolution: Saving the Division Series

Last year about this time, I laid out my plans for an entire postseason overhaul. This year, while standing by most of those innovative suggestions — the nine-game World Series, in particular — I want to revisit the aspect of the Major League Baseball postseason that I, and every baseball fan I know,* continues to find most troubling.

*I do not know John S.

I speak, of course, of the Division Series.

The Division Series — scourge of the favorite and the underdog alike, a duality best occupied, it seems, by the Minnesota Twins. The Division Series — where a season of tidings of comfort and joy can come crashing down in four days. The Division Series — where baseball’s postseason most trivializes its regular-season and creates fundamental questions regarding the justice of its champion. The Division Series — why does it drop the “League” when the LCS never does?*

*Methinks the answer lay in an aversion to a certain FX television program. Perhaps I’ve anthropomorphized too much. That, or they don’t want to confuse members of the Latter-Day Saints.

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Not a Crapshoot? Or, We’re Disagreeing with Joe Posnanski Again?!?!?

Joe Posnanski doesn’t like the Division Series—in fact, he ranks Division Series games as the seventh most exciting games in a baseball season, behind “Cool mid-season matchups between great starting pitchers” AND “Important pennant race games in August.” He makes a pretty compelling argument, but he falls back on one piece of conventional wisdom that I don’t think is quite true: that the Division Series is a crapshoot.

People say this all the time: The Division Series is too short. It’s a crapshoot. Great teams get upset all the time by mediocre teams that snuck into the playoffs. One great starting pitcher can exert too much influence. But is this really true? Let’s quote Posnanski himself:

“You know how people always say that in baseball the playoffs are a crapshoot? Well, there’s a reason they say that: It’s because the playoffs are a crapshoot. Since 1998 — an arbitrary cutoff point, yes, but I’ll give you the whole set of numbers in a minute — since 1998, teams with better regular season records are 42-42 in series against teams with worse records. You can’t get much more crapshooty than that. Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: Fixing Baseball’s Playoffs

Let me set the scene for you: It’s the Division Series, and a team that’s 15 games better than the team it’s playing has just been eliminated in four days. Some people notice.

Let me reset the scene for you: It’s the Division Series, and a team that’s 15 games better than the team it’s playing has just survived quite the scare in a taut seven-game series that drew national attention.

We must face a simple truth, sports fans: Baseball’s playoff system is broken. In this, the Fifteenth Year of the Wild Card, it is time to finally discuss change.

The main flaw with Major League Baseball’s postseason is its reliance on Chip Caray as its announcer. Pierre kids…maybe.

The main flaw with Major League Baseball’s postseason is that the regular season’s best team rarely if ever wins the World Series anymore. My evidence: The team with the best record in the regular season has won the World Series just twice since the inception of the Wild Card in 1995. Those two teams are the 1998 Yankees, who won 114 games and are the second-best regular-season team in American League history, and the 2007 Red Sox, who won 96 games. I’m tempted to exclude the ’07 Red Sox from this “Best Team” discussion because their 96 wins not only tied them with another team (the politically incorrect Indians) but also marked the fewest wins by a league leader since at least 1978, and that includes the strike-shortened, 144-game 1995 season.*

*But not the strike-shortened 1994 and 1981 seasons, where winning 96 games would have been a remarkable achievement in each case.

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