This Week in (Dumb) Baseball: About the MLB playoff format
If you already thought the playoff format was bad, that's fine. If you didn't say anything before, the NL Central shouldn't have changed your mind.
It's Monday, which means our regularly scheduled programming of This Week in (Dumb) Baseball is ready for consumption.
As regular readers already know, this feature has the title, sure, but it's mostly for fun-- a fact that eludes the masses but remains the case. For example, if you tell me to "quit whining," you are missing the point. I'm mostly chuckling to myself as I write these things (with some exceptions, of course).
1. NL Central shouldn't be reason for playoff format change
One of my biggest pet peeves in decision-making is being reactionary instead of proactive in professional sports. That is, we wait until a major injury before fixing things that should have already been fixed in the first place, for example.
The latest? The fact that the NL Central houses the three best records in baseball is causing some folks to question the playoff format.
Look, having a wild card game means that after a 162-game marathon, teams are placed into a one-game do-or-die playoff. Everything about baseball says it shouldn't come down to one game like this. I get that.
I also understand that the Rangers with 88 wins going directly to the divisional round while the 97-win Cubs get a one-game playoff on the road seems unfair. I further understand that only one NL Central team getting as far as the NLCS seems wrong. I get these things, too.
In order for this to be a valid argument, however, we shouldn't be talking about the 2015 NL Central.
First of all, it's an anomaly. This is the first time in baseball history the three best records have all come from the same division. Changing the rules based upon something that has never before happened and will likely never again happen is, yes, dumb.
Secondly, the one thing I've always loved about the wild card is how much it puts the emphasis on taking down your peers and winning the division. The 2011 Cardinals were the NL wild card with 90 wins and entered a series against the 102-win Phillies on pretty much equal footing. Was that any more fair than making the Cubs and Pirates play for a chance at the divisional round?
See, we're always going to have reasons to call something unfair.
Here's another layer with the Cubs and Pirates this season. They each had 19 chances at the Cardinals. The Cubs went 8-11 against the Cardinals. Had they simply gone 10-9, they'd have won the division. The Pirates were 9-10. Had they won just one more game, they'd have ended up tied and two more would also have gotten them the division.
Thus, we can say the Cubs and Pirates earned their spots in the wild-card game.
Does it suck that geography determined this? Yeah. All three of these teams are better than both the Dodgers and the Mets, but life ain't fair. Sometimes things like this are going to happen and the problems will arise in any playoff format.
The answer isn't changing the rules based upon one example. If you already hated the playoff format and wanted to change it, I'd accept the argument. If you never before had an issue and now all of a sudden think it's wrong, this is pretty dumb.
The other option would be going back to the old playoff format and the Cubs missing the playoffs altogether with 97 wins. Does that seem OK?
Nope. The system we have is fine. Let's just enjoy the action on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
2. Oh, Greg
I like Greg Bird and I don't want to be mean, but I'm sure he got it worse from his teammates, so I'll just leave this here ...
Greg Bird had no idea champagne would burn his eyes. Thought the goggles he'd seen in pictures were to protect from flying corks. True story— Lohud Yankees Blog (@LoHudYankees) October 2, 2015
That's funny. I'm sure he's not the first guy to ever be in that position, though he seems to be the first to openly admit it.
And now, let us wash away the dumb with fun!
Welcome to the Show moment of the week
Jarrett Parker, this is what Clayton Kershaw's curveball looks like:
Call that one a double knee-buckler.
Wild card moment I: Cue-to
The Pirates fans vs. Johnny Cueto with a dropped ball and then Russell Martin homer!
Wild card moment II: Royals walk off
Little did these frenzied fans know what more was in store for them last postseason ...
On that note, it's time to put a bow on this thing. Bring on the 2015 playoffs, chock full of transcedent moments!
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