Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Baseball Post

This, in a Rotoworld update on David Ortiz, is just pathetic:
Ortiz last played on Sunday. Although his injury is not expected to get any worse, the Red Sox may opt to play things safe with an 8.5 game lead in the American League wild-card race and place their 35-year-old DH on the disabled list.
Of course, the folks at Rotoworld are exactly correct; the Red Sox should be and no doubt are planning for the postseason, and keeping an eye mainly on that large wild card lead. But the Sox are half a game behind the Yankees! With any sort of reasonable system, everyone would be thrilled that we get another terrific Yankees/Red Sox pennant race. But instead, there's no pennant race, there's no excitement, there's only weeks and weeks of sitting around waiting for the playoffs to start.

That sort of thing works in football, where they play once a way and every game can be an occasion, but it just is a total waste of baseball's strengths. Regular readers know that I have my preferences of how to fix it, and I've seen reasonable arguments for other ideas, but this is just awful.


  1. I noticed this morning that we apparently have races in the AL Central (in which the division leader has the 5th best record in the league, and the third-place team--4.5 games out--has a losing record) and in the NL West (in which the division leader has the 4th best record in the league).

    The AL wild-card leader has an 8 game edge and the NL wild-card leader and the wild card leader has a 7 game advantage.

    The excitement is killing me....But, then, when I first began to follow baseball as if it matters (1958), the Braves won by 8 and the Yankees by 10. Through the 1950s the average margin on victory in the AL appears to have been about 8 games, and, in the NL, about 5.5, so thrilling pennant races weren't exactly routine back then...the 1960s were about the same...

  2. I have always hated the playoffs because I think they almost always make for bad pitching rotation matchups in the World Series. It’s hard to get the best pitchers from each team to go head to head a la Gibson vs. McLain in ’68 (the last year without divisions). Gibson’s domination of McLain was a great story of the series even though it didn’t matter in the end. Nowadays, the team’s best starter is often used up in the playoffs just to get them to the Series and that is not fun to watch.

    Of course, I’m reminiscing like an old man and I know there will always be playoffs, but the point is, whenever they try to leave a little less of that money on the table, the game loses a little more of its charm.

  3. Solution: implement a hard salary cap so the Yankees and Red Sox can't outspend the rest of baseball by a huge amount then the American League East will be more exciting every year.

  4. This is an interesting conversation, since it indirectly points to one of the reasons I self-identify as a conservative: where sentiment and money clash, always bet on money to win.

    I randomly happened to be visiting SC, marginally Braves territory, during late summer 1993, when the Braves began their magical run to the division. Its not an area that is much for baseball in late summer, but the market was pretty much captivated by the Braves beginning to come back on the Giants.

    Even though that race is quite memorable to a hardcore fan, how much incremental revenue did baseball generate that year because of that race? How many new, committed fans came to the game? Do people outside of Giant or Brave nation even talk about that '93 race?

    I suspect that if you added up the entire pool of additional revenue from that once-a-generation 'pennant' race, it would still be less than that generated from a single divisional series playoff game. (Well, unless it were at Turner Field).

    Hoping for pennant races in a rivalry with expanded playoffs is like hoping for the fly in its rivalry with the windshield.

  5. I lived in Atlanta and was a fan during that '93 pennant race and all I remember about it is the fire in the press box that seemed to start the whole thing.

    But you are right, CSH, and that is why I identify as a liberal. Because when money wins everyone else loses.

  6. The Red Sox are absolutely not playing it safe. They're just making a decision to protect Papi a bit so he has a better chance of being as productive as he has been earlier this season in September and October. Maybe he goes on the retroactive DL until Aug. 30, when the Yankees come to Fenway. We've only got the Royals, Rangers, and A's till then, we should be able to win all those series without Papi. It's Youk I'm more worried about.

  7. As reluctant as I am to expand the playoffs any further, I think a one-game playoff between the top two wild card contenders would be great theater. These one-game winner-take-all showdowns we've had as a result of regular season ties have produced some real barnburners. The Tigers-Twins playoff a couple years back was awesome, and 2007's Game 163 between the Padres and Rockies was the single greatest baseball game of my lifetime.

  8. I'm not thrilled with adding a 2nd wildcard, but how about this: The one-game playoff is played the night before the opening round of the Division Series, at the ballpark furthest from the top-seeded team.

    Imagine if Seattle beats Boston in Seattle, and then flies to Toronto for a game the next day. Felix Hernandez couldn't pitch until Game Three, and everybody else has jet lag. Advantage, division champion Toronto!

  9. This year really should make the fans of adding a second wild-card team think twice. Especially some of the ideas of making it a one-game play-off. Currently it would be Boston vs Tampa and Atlanta vs San Fran. Considering their leads in the WC, it seems ridiculous to have a 1-game playoff for a spot, when after 162 games both Atlanta and Boston (or NY) have proved their superiority. I mean, why not go further and expand to 32 teams and then play 1-game playoffs for the title ala FA Cup style. Wouldn't that be more exciting and a logical extension of maximising profits. (I really hate the 1-game playoff option.)

    I really like Jonathan's idea, but I would make one small change. I think if you make the playoffs you deserve at least one home game for your fans. So to keep the advantage to the division winner, I would have the first game of the series at the 2nd place teams home field, and the other 4 at the division winner's. That should be a sufficient advantage for the division winner to ensure they win more often than not.


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