Sunday, October 7, 2012

So What's the Scenario?

"Funny how falling feels like flying, even for a little while."
- Bad Blake

Bud Selig should be ashamed of himself.

Losing the One Game Playoff is cruel to emotionally invested baseball fans.

If what happened to the Braves had happened to the Yankees, Billy Crystal would be in Bud Selig's office shouting that this isn't fun, and it isn't funny.

As better writers have expressed, baseball is a game of quirks and oddities, where even the most superior teams do not exceed 65% winning percentages.

For camparison's sake, here are last season's Top winning percentages in...

Basketball
2012 Bulls/Spurs 75.8%
2011 Bulls 75.6%
2010 Cavs 74.4%
2009 Cavs 80.5%
2008 Celtics 80.5%

The 1995-96 Bulls won 87.8% of their games.

Football
2011 Packers 93.8%
2010 Patriots 87.5%
2009 Colts 87.5%
2008 Titans 81.3%
2007 Patriots 100%

Of course, Professional Football brought sports fans a perfect season 40 years ago, by the 1972 Dolphins.

Baseball
2012 Nationals 60.5%
2011 Phillies 63%
2010 Phillies 59.9%
2009 Yankees 63.6%
2008 Angels 61.7%

The 2001 Mariners had the highest wining percentage in the history of Major League Baseball, winning 71.6% of their games.

I'd love to sit with some fans and try to come up with philosophies why Baseball is this way. Is it rare that it's a team non-contact sport? In football it's easy to see if a team is noticeably bigger and stronger, they'll very likely win. Some very ugly baseball teams can go far with solid pitching and on base skills.

Long boring story short, baseball has a long season. I don't want to write "loooooong" or using all caps, but it's a long season.

The World Series was always just that, "a series" because a one-game championship would not provide enough opportunities to ensure fairness in the competition.

This stinks because this current scenario that punishes wild card teams with the anomaly of a one game "playoff", suits the purposes of purists who want to see division winners rewarded.

The biggest fear is that a great Cubs team will get hosed one way or another. They'll have a once-in-a-lifetime 70% winning percentage club that gets knocked out by a Wild Card team. Or, they'll get in as a Wild Card for a few years and just never get over that hump, as Bills and Rangers fans can empathize.

In the olden days, only the regular season winner of each league would go to the World Series. That's it. The 1954 Yankees won 103 games, and that's it because the Indians won 111.

Getting back at the absurdity of what a one-game playoff signifies, even in 1962, when bitter rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, finished with identical 101-61 records, they was a 3-game series to decide the National League representative in the World Series.

Side note: the deciding Game #165 had 4 strikeouts and 7 errors

Until baseball flexes their greed once more, by expanding the Wild Card round to 3 games, the trade deadline decisions for potential wild card teams will be noticeably affected by the absurd quirkiness of the current system.

It makes sense to extend the Wild Card round to 3 or 5 games right away because:

A. It is fairer, or more fair, if you prefer
B. It makes baseball more $$$, through TV, tickets, etc
C. It still puts the Wild Card at a disadvantage, by making them work harder to face a rested #1 seed

At one point yesterday, in what amounts to some very light lifting of numbers, no math at all, we compared the team statistics of the eight remaining postseason teams in the following categories:

Run Differential
Pythagorean Win-Loss %

Defense
Defensive Runs Save

Robinson Cano has had a great year
Offense
On Base Percentage
Adjusted OPS+
wRC+
wOBA

Pitching
Starters FIP
Bullpen FIP
Starters SIERA
Bullpen SIERA

Ranking all eight teams in each category, and adding up all the rankings showed the following results:

New York Yankees 28
St. Louis Cardinals 31
Washington Nationals 40
Detroit Tigers 45
San Francisco Giants 46
Cincinnati Reds 47
Baltimore Orioles 62
Oakland A's 62


Of course, there are more holes in this "formula" than Manual Noriaga's face 25 years ago. That Nationals also cannot be considered as strong as their Regular Season averages because of a fellow named Strasburg, wasting away again with a case of precious arm syndrome.

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