Failures of the New Playoffs on Full Display

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

This post is what you think it is, so if you already know, you don't even have to read it.

When the edict came down that another Wild Card would be added to create this ultimate death match one game playoff, I thought that there were three main reasons why this was a terrible idea.

  • A division winner with a much worse record than a wild card team getting to advance.
  • A one game playoff between teams with considerably different records -- worst case being that the team with the worse record eliminates the team with the better record.
  • Any one game can be decided by the fluky nature of baseball and does very little to demonstrate which team is actually better.

It doesn't make the idea any better or worse that all three have happened this year, but it certainly doesn't make me feel better about it. The 88-win Tigers are preparing to host the first game of an ALDS while two 93-win teams are at the play in game. This is stupid and should never happen. The 88-win Cardinals eliminated the 94-win Braves in a decidedly umpire altered game. This is stupid and should never happen.

One of the big reasons that this was done was to prevent teams from coasting into Wild Card position instead of going all out to win the division. What is continually glossed over is that if a team has a comfortable enough lead in the Wild Card to take their foot off the gas, sending them to a one game playoff is a much greater evil. They have a comfortable lead in the Wild Card, they don't belong in a play in game with a team they have a much better record than, they belong in the ALDS.

The regular season is being undermined to foster a March Madness attitude that simply does not suit baseball. It's being done to generate revenue and interest, which is fine. I'm as big a capitalist as the next guy. Baseball making money is good for baseball and there's a lot of money to be made in extending the playoffs.

I just wish the league would stop with the transparent and disingenuous act of selling this as a new and improved playoff system. It's a cash cow that will rob us of playoff matchups between the best teams in the league, and that's where the real postseason excitement is.

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