Monday, September 23, 2013

A New Magic Number

The Red Sox have clinched their spot in the playoffs, and they’ve clinched the division title. There’s only one
thing left for them to clinch, and that’s the best record in the American League. This honor is slightly more important than it was the last time the Sox made it to the Postseason. Sure, having home field throughout the playoffs was always great. But, the team with the best record gets to play the Wild Card winner. The Wild Card team now has to play an extra game before starting the Divisional Playoffs. That makes getting to play them a significant advantage. Since we now know that the Wild Card team won’t be the Red Sox, I feel better about saying this.

I hate the new Wild Card format.

Hate it. Can’t stand it. Worst thing baseball’s ever done.

Why? Because it adds yet another team to the playoffs that has no business being there. What’s worse, is it allows that team to advance based upon a fluky one game playoff.

Now, I do understand the “need” for one wild card. If you’re going to have the three division winners make the playoffs, you should allow for an extra team since, in many cases, that Wild Card team is better than some of the division winners. (I’d prefer not to have division winners at all, but that’s another battle.) We’ve had wild card teams with the second best record in baseball. So, if you’re going to have a playoff series, you need to have one out clause for a team like that.

A second one is just overkill.

Baseball, to its credit, is at least trying to reward the division winners. Although, not as much as they would reward them by giving them exclusive access to the playoffs. They’re making those wild card teams play an extra game as punishment. But, naturally, even that has its faults. So, one wild card team could finish ten games ahead of the other wild card team. They could have the second best record in baseball. But, they have to play a one game playoff against an inferior team and hope a bad bounce or bad call doesn’t end their season. Which is why players and fans are begging for at least a three game series. That lets the bad luck even out a bit. Unfortunately, there just isn’t the time for that sort of thing. Can’t have the division winners sit around for a week waiting. Thankfully, I have a solution.

A three game series. All three games played in the home park of the WC team with the best record. Two games on the first day, one game the following day.

It’s the best of both worlds. The three games reduce the luck factor. But, three games in two days definitely punish the wild card team. They have to burn their rotation and bullpen before that next series. It also gives a distinct advantage to the best wild card team, since they get to host all three games. It even gives some excitement to every game, Since all three games would be vitally important. Momentum-wise, it’s like three made for TV one game playoffs. How important would game one become? To know you only need to win one of the next two? How about game two? One team could be eliminated, with the other team earning an extra day of rest. Game three? Obviously as important as any game could be.

I’m not going to say it’s perfect. (After all, the only perfect plan is this one.) I’m not thrilled about the prospect of punishing a WC team that could be the second best team in baseball that harshly. But, as long as baseball insists on sticking with the divisions, it’s the way it’ll have to be.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Not bad. The first game would have to be on a weekend, otherwise MLB would lose precious tv revenue while most fans are working. Seems like three playoff games in about 24 hours or so would be exhausting for everyone, particularly the pitchers. Does this put the wildcard team at a disadvantage to the point where the next round isn't even competitive? Overall, it's a good idea worth considering.


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