Welcome to "Chatter from the Pressbox", the website dedicated to the Pressbox of the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Today's Matchups Around the Ranger's System

Today's (5/20) Match-Ups Around the Ranger's System

Round Rock: Martin Perez (3-3 5.27) vs. Fresno Grizzlies: Andrew Kown (3-1 2.61) @ 1:00 PM CT

Myrtle Beach: Kyle Hendricks (1-4 2.91) @ Wilmington Blue Rocks: Sugar Ray Marimon (3-0 2.65) @ 12:30 PM CT

Hickory : Santo Perez (2-2 6.19) @ Asheville Tourists: Daniel Winkler (4-2 6.06) @ 1:05 PM CT

Friday, March 2, 2012

Off Topic: New Playoff Format--- Fixing Something That Isn't Broken

Major League Baseball has announced that the new playoff format that was agreed upon with the new CBA will go into immediate effect in 2012. There will be two additional playoff teams, one in each league, in the 2012 postseason. People have had different view points on the new format. I will first go into some of the facts and then give my opinion on why I believe they are trying to fix something that was never broken and why I think they should have gone a much easier, cleaner route if they actually wanted to change things.


Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/baseball/mlb/03/02/playoffs-expand.ap/index.html

- MLB will have 2 Wild Card teams from each league beginning in 2012.
- The two wild cards from each league will play a 1 game playoff and the winner will go against the top seed in the LDS.
- MLB will no longer go by the rule where two teams in the same division cannot play each other in the first round. 
- The Houston Astros will switch to the AL West beginning in 2013.
- For just 2012, MLB will have a 2-3 playoff format in the LDS, which means the team that has "home field advantage" will begin on the road. This new format cut back on travel time, which allowed the 1 game Wild Card format and tie breakers to fit into the schedule.
- Unlike past years when head to head records were used to break division titles, the tie breaker will be on the field in a one game tie breaker. This could make things extra complicated, more on that later. 

With the facts out there, my thought from the beginning that I heard this was "wow, what is major league baseball doing." I've listened to some of the positive points of this, the "extra drama", keeping fans of some teams that never have a chance more interested. But even with those there are FAR too many negatives and reasons to not like this.

Point #1: By Having Two Wild Cards, MLB is Making the Postseason More Mediocre

The American League Perspective

Since 1996, the American League Wild Card has had at least 90 wins 15 of the 16 years, including 15 seasons in a row dating back to 1997. Over those 16 years, the Wild Card spot in the American League has ONE less win than the 2nd best American League team does cumulative with 1,515 wins compared to 1,516 wins. They are well ahead of the 3rd best division winning team, which has 1,454 wins during that span of time. If everything broke down, you would have to go further down to 1,422 wins for the 5th place team, which would be the 2nd Wild Card winning team. The Wild Card has had the 2nd most wins in the league more times (5) than it has been 4th in wins (3).

Over the last five seasons in the American League, the Wild Card has belonged to the AL East with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox each taking two and the Tampa Bay Rays taking another. They have had 3 95 win seasons, a 94 win season, and in 2011 the Rays had 91 wins. The Wild Card spot has 15 90+ win seasons, the 2nd Wild Card spot would have 7 90+ win seasons.

Over the last twelve seasons, there would have been a gap of five or more wins between the Wild Card winning team and the second Wild Card winning team in eight of the seasons.

The National League Perspective

While the American League has been much more defined as being dominant from the Wild Card spot, but less so from the 2nd Wild Card spot, the National League has not been so dominant. Over the last 12 years, there has only been 1 case of a 5 or more game gap between the first Wild Card and second Wild Card.

Again, however, the Wild Card has more wins than the 3rd best division winner (1,461 wins to 1,438), and once again the second Wild Card team would make the process more mediocre coming in at 1,425 wins over the last sixteen seasons. The second Wild Card spot would only have had 5 seasons with 90+ wins, which is even less than the 3rd division winner (8 times). The National League Wild Card winner over the last 16 years has had 90 or more wins in twelve of the sixteen seasons, including four straight.

The National League Wild Card spot has had the fourth most wins in six of the sixteen seasons. They've had the second most wins in two of the sixteen seasons.

Point #2: Was There Actually Something Wrong?

By adding the second Wild Card spot, MLB was basically saying that there was something wrong with the way that Wild Cards were able to win in the postseason. Beyond the fact that this was probably a ploy to make more money and drama, I believe that MLB really thought they needed to make more of a challenged for the Wild Card teams. But was there ever really an issue?

Since the Wild Card has come into existence, roughly 25% of the World Series teams have been Wild Card teams, and roughly 25% of the World Series winners have been Wild Card teams. Yet every postseason 25% of the teams are Wild Card teams. Now they get to boost that % to 40%, granted only 25% will actually go into the first non-one game playoff format.

Point #3: The Oakland Athletics Factor--- The One Game Playoff Format Is Really Ridiculous

I do not like the fact that there are more Wild Card teams, but if they're going to add another one to each league, couldn't they have at least made it a 3 game playoff format? The problem with a 1 game playoff format is that you're going to have situations where the two Wild Card teams play each other with a legitimate spread of games between them in the regular season. A one game playoff format proves even less than a 3,5, or 7 game playoff format in the postseason does. Any team on any given day can beat a team for a one game series. Heck any team can beat any team in a seven game series, but that's for another day.

Imagine for a second that this had actually started when the Wild Card took form. Now imagine that you're a fan of the 2001 Oakland Athletics. Your team just finished with the 2nd best record in baseball that season, second only to the 116 win Seattle Mariners. Are you really telling me that you wouldn't be as upset as anybody can ever be if you now know that your team has to go into a 1 game playoff against the mediocre 85 win Minnesota Twins? Now continue telling me that it will never happen, but in 2001 it would have happened. And if it's happened before, chances are something similar will appear down the road. If that doesn't change your mind about this, then I'm pretty sure nothing will.

Point #4: What Major League Baseball Should Have Done

Now, I've given some points that I believe are problems for this. I'm not a complainer, and I won't complain about something that I don't at least have a pretty good solution for. If MLB really saw a problem in the whole Wild Card race thing, then I believe they really should have taken three simple steps that could have easily been changed, ruined pretty much nothing, and immensely helped bridge the gap that they want to close where Wild Card teams actually have a chance in the postseason.

A) Get rid of the rule that said two teams in the same division couldn't play each other.

This was the easiest of the three and the one that they actually did. It was one of the best moves they made this offseason and one that should have been done a long time ago. No longer will you have the Red Sox or Yankees avoiding the other in the first round and playing some worse team despite being the Wild Card team.

To go a step further, I'd actually want the Wild Card team to get homefield advantage if they have a better record. I understand that you want to award the division winner, but why? Why award them if they are an 84 win team and the Wild Card winner is a 95 win team? That makes little sense.

B) Change the LDS to a 7 game round

This would have effectively given advantage to the better team, while not adding the extra Wild Card winner. In the end it also probably would have worked out the same, since now you have the chance of even more tie breaker games.

C) Change the LDS/LCS format to 2-4-1 or 1-4-2

This may be the craziest and one that people don't agree with, but by giving the home field advantage team 4 games in the middle, you really emphasize the advantage. As it works out right now, the team without the advantage simply needs to win 1 on the road and they have 3 at home and could sweep home. The advantage really doesn't become one until game 7 as well, which outside of 2011 has not happened all that often. Not enough to justify it as "home field" advantage anyways.

In the end, Major League Baseball doesn't care what I think, but I believe that the move to add the second Wild Card has a chance to water down the postseason even more. I am and always will be a big baseball fan, but I don't want to see baseball become like the NBA or hockey where it's actually more of an accomplishment to not make the postseason than it is to actually make it.

Baseball is a game that is played on the field and if MLB tries to make it so that the Wild Card has no chance, they will never succeed in their quest because it is impossible to guarantee anything. And to try to compete with the NFL in TV ratings would be a mistake. The sports are so different with the NFL being a 17 week (16 game) season with 1 game a week and then a one and out postseason. If the NFL tried to adapt a 162 MLB schedule with best of 7 postseasons, their ratings would suffer greatly as well.

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