Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wild Wild Card

I know it is spring training and I am talking about the end of the season and the wild wild card put in place by the Bug. I wish there was time to correct this situation but the powers that be have decided. MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to the new play-off set-up for this year. Too soon for my taste, as I do not think it has been accounted for in the 2012 schedule nor is it the proper scheme for baseball playoffs.

The talk in the off-season was what would happen to the Astros and when. Well, everyone had a point of view on that one and nothing happened for this year. The realignment has not been done. The next topic was the new playoff scheme in the new contract between the MLB and the MLBPA. Both parties to the contract agreed to extended playoffs. How could they not? Each player and team wants to extend into the postseason. Money and pride of success are the reasons. Owners make more money and players get postseason stats and the fans can hope against hope that their team will go the distance. Fans want their team to go further. Excellent. Bug Selig said "We're working on dates right now. That'll all take place. It looks to me like we'll have it because I've told everybody we have to have it. It'll be exciting. One-game playoff, it will start the playoffs in a very exciting manner."

I like the idea of another round of playoff chances. With now ten teams eligible (out of thirty), I do not think it is overboard. Now 1/3 of the MLB teams will have a postseason game. The NHL and the NBA have a bigger chance of getting into the playoffs. NHL and NBA teams have 53% chance (16 out of 30 teams) and the NFL 37%. I have heard it said many times that when the playoffs start in the NFL, the season has finally begun. It is felt that the regular season is nothing more than waiting for the real action to begin, that the regular season is diluted too much. I would not like to see this happen in baseball. In baseball’s long history the length of the season has meant everything. Teams vie for besting the other in each series they play. Strategies, of which there are many, are crucial to the outcomes as the teams size each other up. The key word I think here is "series".

Baseball is played as a series of games. Other than a tie at the end of the season, there are no regular or postseason encounters of one game. The shootout style being implemented this year is not the way the game should be played. In the NFL, 12 teams are in the postseason and they only ever play one-offs. The NBA and NFL play series, as well, to determine advancement to the next round. As Richard Justice, from MLB.com, put it “…no team will want to settle for a wild card berth because those one-game playoffs are just too risky.” My point precisely. It is not the way the game is played.

I look forward to seeing the wild wild playoff game. But how will it fit into the schedule this year? The commissioner’s office has not done the homework. According to the current schedule, divisional play starts on October 5, 2012. That leaves no days from the end of the season to the divisional series if a team is in a tie and makes the wild wild card. The schedule should have been revamped for the next season.

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