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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Atlanta, GA (Buckhead)

    Baseball and the Wild Card

    In baseball, more than any other sport, a bad team has a shot at beating a really good team on any given night or during any given series. I like the wild card, but with the recent rash of success of wild card teams in the postseason (again, like no other sport), something MUST be done.

    If you were commissioner, what would you do to give the wild card team the disadvantage it has "earned" come playoff time? How about the wildcard team would have to win 4 of 7, while the pennent winner would only have to win 3 of five? I don't know. Just a random Monday rant.

    -EarlJam

    P.S. My team, the ZerO's have no chance at any playoff this year.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by EarlJam View Post
    In baseball, more than any other sport, a bad team has a shot at beating a really good team on any given night or during any given series. I like the wild card, but with the recent rash of success of wild card teams in the postseason (again, like no other sport), something MUST be done.

    If you were commissioner, what would you do to give the wild card team the disadvantage it has "earned" come playoff time? How about the wildcard team would have to win 4 of 7, while the pennent winner would only have to win 3 of five? I don't know. Just a random Monday rant.

    -EarlJam

    P.S. My team, the ZerO's have no chance at any playoff this year.

    I don't understand your starting point. If the wild card team plays well in the post season, why is that a bad thing?

  3. #3
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    Feb 2007
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    Dillon, Colorado
    The real problem is when you have a crappy division where the winner goes 82-79 or whatever. Wild cards are the SOLUTION to the problem, not the problem itself.
    As suburban children we floated at night in swimming pools the temperature of blood. -- Douglas Coupland

  4. #4
    Just make the series best of 7 which allows more time for the cream to rise to the top.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    St. Louis

    The wild card is the problem.

    Having a wild card is appropriate in a sport like football where you only play 16 games and there are lots of ties for division champ slots. IMHO, if you can't prove your superiority over the other teams in your division over 162 gaves, you don't belong in the playoffs, period. Of course, part of the problem in baseball is the fact that there are too many divisions, with too few teams in them, especially the AL West. Of course, I was one of the purists who didn't even like the expansion to 12 teams with 2 divisions in 1969, but learned to live with it because there was still a legitimate division with 6 teams in it, and because the better team usually, although not always, advanced to the World Series. (There were exceptions like the 1973 Mets.)

  6. #6
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    Feb 2007
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    Hot'Lanta... home of sports teams that disappoint in the playoffs
    The notion of requiring one team to win fewer games to advance seems truly strange to me. I cannot figure out how it would work. I can't see the logic in saying one team can win the series in 5 games but the other can only win it in 7 games.

    I think you just make all the rounds into a best-of-7 series, that's the best I can come up with. I think that tests your bullpen and starting pitching more and more closely simiulates the elements it takes for success in the regular season.

    One thing that bothers me about baseball is that its post-season is so different from the regular season in terms of time off. As a result, the pitching rotation and roles for a team in the post-season are often very different than they are for the regular season. I hate that. There is one set of rules and strategy that works for the regular season and then once you reach the playoffs you are suddenly playing by a different set of rules. What sense does that make?

    Baseball is already more random than any other sport. By this I mean that bad teams beat good teams more often in baseball than any other sport. Look at the top teams in other sports. The best teams routinely win 70%+ of their games in the NBA and NFL. It is not at all uncommon to have a team win 3 out of every 4 games. The worst teams all win less than a third of their games.

    Now, look at baseball standings. If you win 60% of your games, you are a stud team. It is not at all uncommon for a team to win their division by winning just 55% of their games or so. Heck, teams sometimes win their division playing barely above .500. It is soooo much easier for a bad team to beat a good team in baseball.

    My point in all this is that by its nature, baseball is going to have more playoff "upsets." The only way to counteract this is to stretch the post-season series out a tiny bit so we have a better chance of the better team winning. It may not help much, but it might help a little tiny bit.

    One more thing-- in my opinion it is not such a terrible thing when the Wild Card team does well. Quite often the Wild Card team is the better team or at least is the equal of some of the Division winners.

    A piece of me wishes baseball had 3 wild cards and did their playoffs the way the NFL does, though that would be a real mess in terms of scheduling because the top 2 division winners would get a ton of time off and that could be a problem for them in terms of staying sharp. Maybe if you made those opening round series best of 3... though that would make them insanely short.

    -Jason "don't forget more playoffs = more money" Evans

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Hot'Lanta... home of sports teams that disappoint in the playoffs
    Quote Originally Posted by rasputin View Post
    Having a wild card is appropriate in a sport like football where you only play 16 games and there are lots of ties for division champ slots. IMHO, if you can't prove your superiority over the other teams in your division over 162 gaves, you don't belong in the playoffs, period. Of course, part of the problem in baseball is the fact that there are too many divisions, with too few teams in them, especially the AL West. Of course, I was one of the purists who didn't even like the expansion to 12 teams with 2 divisions in 1969, but learned to live with it because there was still a legitimate division with 6 teams in it, and because the better team usually, although not always, advanced to the World Series. (There were exceptions like the 1973 Mets.)
    If you eliminate the Wild Card what do you do with the divisions? Do you go back to 2 divisions? There could be huge revenue losses if you did this because it would serve to eliminate teams from playoff consideration a LOT faster. Nothing is worse for August and September attendance than a lack of playoff races.

    Hmmm, what about 2 divisions and the top 2 teams in each make the playoffs?

    I sorta think that no matter what you do, there is not going to be very much of a reward for being the best team over 162 games. There is a reward for being good enough to make the playoffs but there is almost no reward for being better than the other playoff teams.

    -Jason "best of seven first round-- that's the only change I would make" Evans

  8. #8
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    Apr 2007
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    Atlanta, GA (Buckhead)
    Quote Originally Posted by cato View Post
    I don't understand your starting point. If the wild card team plays well in the post season, why is that a bad thing?
    I don't know the exact number, but wild card teams have won a few World Series. To me, it's too much. It's unacceptable. After playing 162 games, the team that earned first place should not have to fight for it's life in a five game series with a team that did not win the pennant. Lost that very first game, and suddenly, after 163 games, you are looking at a must win situation.

    It should be much harder for the wild card team to advance.

    -EarlJam

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    One thing that bothers me about baseball is that its post-season is so different from the regular season in terms of time off. As a result, the pitching rotation and roles for a team in the post-season are often very different than they are for the regular season. I hate that. There is one set of rules and strategy that works for the regular season and then once you reach the playoffs you are suddenly playing by a different set of rules. What sense does that make?
    What? This isn't true at all. The teams play 2 straight games at the better team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), then play 3 straight games at the other team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), and then finish up the last 2 in a row. Since division winners play eachother, they are naturally in different geographic areas (east, west, etc.) Unless you want teams finishing up a game at 11 PM, getting on a cross country flight, getting in at 5 in the morning, then having to play a game that same day, you have to have 1 day off for travel. This isn't extreme at all.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post

    I sorta think that no matter what you do, there is not going to be very much of a reward for being the best team over 162 games. There is a reward for being good enough to make the playoffs but there is almost no reward for being better than the other playoff teams.
    This isn't true either. The best team, if they are really good enough to be "the best" -- by having a several game lead over the next closest division winner, can essentially take the last week off to line up their rotation so their best starters are going 1-2-3. This is a HUGE advantage. They'll be playing a wild-card team that in most cases isn't decided until the last 2 games of the season. The wild-card teams scratch and claw the last month of the season to barely get in -- the division winners many times are able to put it on cruise control a bit, get healthy, get lined up, etc. The Wild Card by virtue puts you in a bad place -- you're tired and you're playing the best team which is rested. And the best team has home field advantage.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by EarlJam View Post
    I don't know the exact number, but wild card teams have won a few World Series. To me, it's too much. It's unacceptable. After playing 162 games, the team that earned first place should not have to fight for it's life in a five game series with a team that did not win the pennant. Lost that very first game, and suddenly, after 163 games, you are looking at a must win situation.

    It should be much harder for the wild card team to advance.

    -EarlJam
    Why? What if the wild card team has a better record than the other divison winners -- i.e. the cr@ppy divisions that produce winners that are barely above .500 (NL West last year, sometimes AL West).

    You can't blame a superior team for being in a division with another superior team, when the second place team in that division would have crushed a bad division.

    The wild card gets the best teams in the playoffs. I agree, though, that the first round should be 7 games.
    Last edited by tombrady; 07-09-2007 at 04:06 PM.

  12. #12
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    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by rasputin View Post
    IMHO, if you can't prove your superiority over the other teams in your division over 162 gaves, you don't belong in the playoffs, period.
    What if you finish second to the winner of your division, but both of you have a record better than the other 13 teams in the league? You don't belong in the playoffs then, when you're clearly one of the best teams in the league?

    I don't think I can be any more clear: The wild card gets the best teams into the playoffs.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2007
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    Hot'Lanta... home of sports teams that disappoint in the playoffs
    Quote Originally Posted by tombrady View Post
    What? This isn't true at all. The teams play 2 straight games at the better team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), then play 3 straight games at the other team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), and then finish up the last 2 in a row. Since division winners play eachother, they are naturally in different geographic areas (east, west, etc.) Unless you want teams finishing up a game at 11 PM, getting on a cross country flight, getting in at 5 in the morning, then having to play a game that same day, you have to have 1 day off for travel. This isn't extreme at all.
    The days off you are illustrating are very different than in the regular season. No team gets 2 days off each week (2 + 1 off + 3 + 1 off). The reality is that with the way the playoffs work no team needs to EVER use its 5th starter and teams often try to get by using only 3 starters. No matter what, in a 7 game series there is no way the 4th starter will pitch more than once.

    Having decent 4th and 5th starters in the regular season is a huge advantage. In the post-season it is almmost meaningless.

    -Jason "4th and 5th starters get 55 or so starts per year... and then they almost never start a game in the post-season... that is playing by a different set of rules" Evans

  14. #14
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    Feb 2007
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    New York, NY
    This thread raises a bit of a broader question that has been bothering me for a while. Why is setting up a system to ensure that the "right" teams win championships so important? Who, in the grand scheme of things, loses when a team like the 2006 Cardinals wins the World Series? (obviously, the Tigers lose, but that's not what I mean) Why is it so offensive that a wild card team has post-season success?

    I think this every year during BCS controversy, when people are so obsessed with making sure the "right" two teams play for the national title. Besides fans of the respective schools, who really cared whether Michigan or Florida played OSU in the title game? And why? Would the entire college football season of 116 schools have been somehow less meaningful or cheapened if Michigan played OSU rather than Florida? Why can't people simply accept that "Champion" doesn't always equal "Best Team"? Seriously, who cares if the best team isn't the champion for that particular season?
    Just be you. You is enough. - K, 4/5/10, 0:13.8 to play, 60-59 Duke.

    You're all jealous hypocrites. - Titus on Laettner

    You see those guys? Animals. They're animals. - SIU Coach Chris Lowery, on Duke

  15. #15
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    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Plenty of NCAA basketball championships have been won by teams that did not win their conference. Anybody want to go back to the old days when only one team per conference got a bid? Didn't think so.

    Exclusive of the wild card, there are plenty of examples of superior baseball teams losing to lesser baseball teams in a short, postseason series. Last year's Cardinals are a vivid example, but hardly the only one. Even in the days when the World Series was the only post-season, there were stunning upsets. Look at the 1954 World Series. It's the nature of the game.

    There are ways to tweak the system, using home field advantage. But in general the wildcard keeps more teams in the playoffs longer, generates more fan interest, and has been good for the sport.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by pfrduke View Post
    This thread raises a bit of a broader question that has been bothering me for a while. Why is setting up a system to ensure that the "right" teams win championships so important? Who, in the grand scheme of things, loses when a team like the 2006 Cardinals wins the World Series? (obviously, the Tigers lose, but that's not what I mean) Why is it so offensive that a wild card team has post-season success?
    I lose, as a serious baseball fan. Because MLB plays a 6 month regular season with 162 games, and I've tuned in to probably 40-50 over that span and then have to watch a team like the Cardinals win a horrible division by playing .500 ball (they wouldn't have won 75 games in any other division last year) and then get hot at the right (wrong) time when over the course of the season they haven't proven themselves to be worthy of the chance to get hot at the right time. Determining a champion in college football is a game of craps - you can't possibly get all the teams to play each other, and you only play a dozen games, so everyone's already aware of the fuzziness of crowning a "champion." Contrasting, what's the point of playing a game nearly every day for half the year and then allowing teams that win just 3 more than they lose to have a chance at your trophy? If you want the spectacle of The Playoffs to be like that of the NBA, fine, but don't waste 162 games of my time to get there. The regular season IS baseball in a way that doesn't apply to other sports. Don't tell me we need to play 162 games but that the goal of that is not to weed out the pack. The "champion" in such a long and grueling schedule should be a lot closer to the "best" team than in the NHL.

    I agree with those advocating making the Divisional Series 7 games. I'm on Rasputin's page as a general purist and hater on the Wild Card/3 division concept in general - I've been vehemently against it from the start but learned to live with it, because it's not going anywhere (I also can't deny the positives of more teams still having a fighting chance in September). If you're going to have it, though, what's the point of tricking up the playoffs to further disadvantage the Wild Cards, as EarlJam seems to want? Either a Wild Card team is worthy of being in the playoffs or it's not - you can't have both. To do otherwise makes a mockery of the whole thing. They're already disadvantaged by being stressed out by the push to make it in and then having to play on the road.

    Personally, I think the recent run of Wild Cards making or winning the World Series will, over the long run, turn out to be statistical anomaly. It'll even out over time.

    Jason's gripe about the playoffs operating differently than the regular season resonates with me. It's an inherent problem with baseball as a sport, being so reliant on pitching. If you think it's an issue in MLB, look at your average high school, Little League, American Legion and other playoffs and tournaments, with a single game, bracket approach (sometimes with double elimination). To win a single elimination high school state tournament, you've basically got to win 10 or 12 games in a row. In a double elimination tournament, you can basically pencil the team with the best 1-2 starting pitcher combo into the final. It's not even close to ideal in determining who's "best" as a whole. But what are you going to do? You can't have high school kids playing 80 game seasons.
    Last edited by Mal; 07-09-2007 at 09:12 PM.

  17. #17
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    Austin, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by tombrady View Post
    What? This isn't true at all. The teams play 2 straight games at the better team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), then play 3 straight games at the other team's stadium, have a day off to travel (like the regular season), and then finish up the last 2 in a row. Since division winners play eachother, they are naturally in different geographic areas (east, west, etc.) Unless you want teams finishing up a game at 11 PM, getting on a cross country flight, getting in at 5 in the morning, then having to play a game that same day, you have to have 1 day off for travel. This isn't extreme at all.
    This isn't always true, especially in the first round because TV mucks things up. Sometimes, it's been as bad as a day off between the first 2 games of a 5 game series, another day off after the second game, two more games at the other teams park, another day off then the 5th game.

    Thats 5 games in 8 days which NEVER happens in the season. I think Jason's point is that teams make the playoffs with, for instance, a strong 5 man rotation. That 5 man rotation means squat in the playoffs. So a team with a stud 1-2 and a weak 3-5 who scraped by in a weak division can always be set up to beat a solid 1 through 5 rotation in a five game series.

    When it all comes down to it, just win the games. But it is different monster in the post season when a team can rig up a three man rotation and hide the weaknesses that caused it to lose games during the regular season.

    All in all, though, I wouldn't change a thing. The Wild Card is perfectly fine with me, and if a weak division champion like the Cardinals didn't deserve to win it last year, someone should have beaten them.

  18. #18
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    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post

    Having decent 4th and 5th starters in the regular season is a huge advantage. In the post-season it is almmost meaningless.

    -Jason "4th and 5th starters get 55 or so starts per year... and then they almost never start a game in the post-season... that is playing by a different set of rules" Evans
    Or, those decent 4th and 5th starters then slot into the bullpen, making it even better. Having those starters on your team helps you out in the playoffs.

    The reason the travel is different is that teams don't fly east coast to west coast and back again 3 times a week. It doesn't "change the game" at all, unless you want to see super tired pitchers and players hacking it up like little league.

  19. #19
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    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by A-Tex Devil View Post
    I think Jason's point is that teams make the playoffs with, for instance, a strong 5 man rotation. That 5 man rotation means squat in the playoffs. So a team with a stud 1-2 and a weak 3-5 who scraped by in a weak division can always be set up to beat a solid 1 through 5 rotation in a five game series.
    Very few teams have a "Strong" 5 man rotation. Some teams might have 3-4 good pitchers, but nearly every team's 5th starter isn't really that good.

    Everyone's playing by the same rules though (well, except for that whole DH thing...), so just sign a couple great 1-2 starters. No one's forcing teams to spread it out to 5 mediocre guys.

    But like I said, those end of the rotation guys go to the bullpen, so they're still being used. As are other starters coming in on 3 day rest, or even 2 day rest.

    In the playoffs, you use every part of your team to win each game at all costs. Teams could actually do this during the regular season, but its been proven to not be effective -- this is why teams elect to have 5 man rotations, instead of 3, etc.

  20. #20
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    Wild cards in 3 divisions setup will always be ready

    The division winner clinched it over a week ago while the wild card contender was exactly that, a contender, right up until the last day. He never let his guard down for those last few games and that put him on top of his game. Wild cards may not be any worse a team than the div champ, may actually have a winning record against the div champ, the real difference is that he started his playoff rounds a week or so earlier than the champ and his game is sharper and more focused.

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