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And here lies the basic problem with the extended post season - it decreases the likelihood of the two strongest teams playing each other.
Both these options are terrible. More playoff teams just turns it into the NHL. Eliminating divisions eliminates rivalries and pennant races between good teams (it's a battle for fourth rather than first. No one wants to see a fourth place team in the WS.)
But the option on the left is the right direction. In addition to earlier start times and fewer off days (great idea), we need to make divisions larger and cut down on interdivisional and interleague play. Let only the winners make the playoffs.
My dream scenario is 4 divisions of 8 teams each. Play 16 games against each team in your division, and 6 games against all the teams in one other division (rotating). Division winners meet in the first round (best of seven) and winners meet in the WS.
This scheme creates rivalries, while still preserving some variety in the schedule. It creates the potential for 4 good pennant races, and insures we never have "second place" champion again.
"Meaningless" is in the eye of the beholder. Once upon a time two teams played each other simply to determine which team was better on a given day. The meaning was in the scoreboard. This still holds true at lower levels of sport - the HS football game against the cross town rival, etc.
But the trend in pro sports has been to turn everything into a season long race to the playoffs. And so we're told that a game lacks meaning if it doesn't have championship implications. Your either out or your in.
Sport has certainly gained in this trend. Higher ratings and more interest around the big game, etc. But I think we've lost something in this too.
Personally, I like an unbalanced schedule - it creates/maintains rivalries.
Important point - fans travel to see their team, especially if it is a short drive. In-division games allow this to happen more often. I've been to a few games in Cincinnati where the stands are packed with Cardinals/Cubs/Pirates fans. Reducing in-division games would hurt attendance for a lot of teams.
Clearly I'm not understanding the point of this article.
"There are flaws in the AL/NL split: Teams have uneven travel arrangements; the Designated Hitter is not universal; interleague play remains unbalanced. But those flaws are probably not fatal"
Indeed, these are features, not bugs. Part of the fun of MLB are the different playing conditions, DH/no DH, different ballpark dimensions, unbalanced schedules, etc. Who wants uniformity? Not me.
I think it is much simpler.
Ever coach/play Little League? No one can field. So a ball in play is always better than a strikeout, bunts lead to havoc on the field, and an attempted steal leads to a ball thrown away. All the "small ball" strategies work very well in Little League. As players get older, and the talent level rises, these strategies become less effective, but they still work pretty well, until you get to a high level of fielding capability.
Every player and manager grew up playing this way, and they have seen these strategies work hundreds of times. So they've got a natural bias, learned by years of positive reinforcement.
When the game's on the line, when the pressure is on, it is hard to go against what you've learned.
Personally, I'd be happy with less playoff teams. There is no getting around the fact that the Cubs finished third. The regular season should mean something.
Perhaps I missed it? What is the difference between the first table called "Here are the team rankings from 2014:" and the second table called "Here are the team rankings from 2014:"?
Neither team deserves to be World Champion. They both finished second.
"Baseball is boring. Baseball is slow. We need to speed up the pace of the game. The kids aren’t going to watch the games if this keeps up."
How about "Baseball is on too late at night"? My kids were in bed well before the late inning heroics. Heck, so was I.
Nice call on Danks - ouch!
Here's an elegant solution.
Add two more teams (to 32). Divide each league into two 8 team divisions. Each team plays their division rivals 22 times. No interleague, no interdivision. 154 game schedule. Division winners meet head to head in a 7 game league championship series. League winners meet head to head in a 7 game World Series.
No wild cards, no crappy teams sneaking into the playoffs.
It's baseball, not the NHL.
Tony Perez to the Expos for Woody Fryman. Thus ended my innocent childhood. Still don't understand what they were thinking.
Deeper please. Almonte, Carp and Maicer were all drafted in my 12 team AL only 4x4 keeper league. Almonte went for $14.
Just a note that the writers voted before the playoffs, but we voted after. Not knowing the Red Sox would win it all, a vote for Francona makes more sense.
A single trip to Skyline doesn't do the trick. You need to eat Skyline six days in a row. On the seventh day you will be craving it.
Thanks! I've been in the same 4x4 league since 1990. Part of what I like about fantasy baseball is that it is like baseball, but different. That's even more so in 4x4 - it's not about assembling the best baseball team, it's about predicting performance in the 8 categories and winning the game. Lots of weird things happen, and you are forced to notice them.
Hokey Smoke -Cloyd was the name of a Moonman (with partner Gidney) on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Interesting, but I was surprised you looked at individual performance.
I think the question is do teams with "chemistry" win more games? The non stats folks (Thomas Boswell) would say that teams without "chemistry" have a bunch of individuals chasing individual stats, at the expense of the team.
Perhaps compare pythag vs actual for low turnover vs high turnover teams?
This is good. Thanks!
I appreciate that you have taken the time to answer so many questions. Thanks!
Would love to see an article about what the Astros move to the AL does to single league formats. Although the Astros are terrible, that's still one more team to pick from for my AL only league - (1 more closer, etc.) and one less team for NL Leagues. What does that do to player values in single league keeper leagues?
4x4 would be nice. Please tell us how/why this is different/better than the PFM.
I think you miss a key point. The chance that Trout plays 162 games and is mediocre is pretty small. But what about the chance that he tears his ACL in April and is out for the year (or similar)? To me, that's the biggest risk of any $30+ player - you've put too much of your eggs in one basket.
Tim Salmon Warp=42.9, zero All-Star Games.
We should stop picking All-Stars based on the first 2.5 months of the season.
I was busy flunking out of college in Boston in the spring of 1986. That night, instead of school work, I spent the evening driving my girlfriend's car around Boston, thinking about my future, while listening to the game. About the 7th inning it occurred to me that I should go over to Fenway and watch the last few innings, as there were certainly seats available. But inertia was too strong and I never made it to the game. I'll always regret that.
I'm confused. How can there be more "value" than there is money available? For every undrafted player who has positive value, there must be an offsetting negative value of some drafted player, yes?
What am I missing?
I hope the BP folks recognize sarcasm...
OK, so what about people who have surgery just to be able to pitch again (or pitch with a bloody sock)? Aren't they also"damaging their health in order to make it in professional sports"?
Bob Hertzel, how did you get back in the building?
No on #3. Keep the leagues separate. They need a divorce, not a ring.
The extended playoffs lead to lower ratings. By the time the WS finally came, many had lost interest. Instead of building to a big finish, it peters out.
1970 - Brooks Robinson on his belly holding the ball up in the air.
They only need to win one of two. Why start Latos on short rest?
"My least favorite fact is that the Miami Marlins have two World Series championships and zero division titles."
Agreed. Second place teams have no business playing in the WS.
Hit List Factor: An average of a team's actual winning percentage and the three Pythagenpat winning percentages from our Adjusted Standings Report.Used to determine a team's ranking in the Prospectus Hit List power rankings.
Carl Crawford still listed with the Red Sox.
Hey - Crawford is now a Dodger.
7PM start time for the AS Game, playoffs and WS.
I know you don't get to embed the video, but we need a similar analysis for radio. The radio guys tend to stick around a lot longer, and have more idiosyncratic calls.
Let's not forget players who make a sentence (subject, verb).
Austin Kearns (as in typography)
Drew Stubbs (his toe)
It all goes back to little league. Small ball tactics work when the fielders are bad. Putting the ball in play is more reliable than hoping the 14 year old ump calls that close pitch a ball. Steal the base - they'll never get you out, and they might throw it away. Bunt, you'll probably end up on second.
It's extreme in little league, and still pretty true in high school. Once you get to professional baseball, the fielders, even the bad ones, are pretty good, and these strategies don't work so well. But 10 years of "education" in small ball is tough to unlearn.
I look forward to a similar on a small market team. How about the Reds?
Thank you. I really enjoy this.
BP better not get me pregnant.
Really great article. Thanks.
Can't begin to understand this. Why pay $3 million to Punto when you could burn the money for heat instead?
BP has been slowly evolving from a baseball site to a fantasy baseball site. Personally, I'm OK with that, but the change is noticeable.
Perhaps the difference between the Devil Rays and Red Sox is not medical staff but relative roster age?
Now pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon...Manny Mota...Mota
Going "strictly on gut instinct" apparently means no math allowed.
"my hands are as cramped as a 12 year-old boy after a very personal shower" - must we?
I would agree. Second Place = not the best.
Junior Felix. Key part of "Ken Griffey Junior Felix Jose Canseco"
They are a playoff caliber team only if we let too many teams in the playoffs.
The Cardinals are a second place team and do not deserve to be in the playoffs.
Bobby Tolan missed the 1971 season (age 25) after rupturing his Achilles in a basketball game. 42 Steals in 1972, but never really the same player afterward.
This is just dumb. I'm Sorry I tried to read it.
Makes me miss Bob Hertzel
I found this unreadable. Don't confuse cleverness with good writing.
The fundamental problem is the wild-card. Once we let non-first place teams in, the pennant race becomes the race for the last spot. As we add more playoff teams, the quality of the teams competing for the last spot degrades. Better to have a 100-win team left out once in a while (NL West 1993) then to watch to sub-.500 teams fight for the last playoff spot (like hockey), while the good teams have been resting their regulars for a month.
Anaheim? I still call them California.
Adding teams to the playoffs reduces the importance of the regular season, and increases the number of teams resting their regulars as they coast into playoffs.
It also robs us of great pennant races between good teams. As in the NBA and NHL, the end of the season becomes a battle for the last playoff spot, between teams barely over .500.
Give me 1908 NL, 1951 NL, 1967 AL, 1978 AL East, 1993 NL West, etc. Good teams battling to win. Much more entertaining and memorable than the current scheme.
But now Sizemore has been sent down, and Rhymes has been named the starter. So I think the numbers need some adjustment.
This is great!
More of this, less Bob Hertzel please.
I guess I have a special dislike for Hertzel as I grew up in Cincinnati, and had to read him when I was 12. (I even bought his book 35 years ago) Everything he writes reads like one of those old Baseball Digest articles I outgrew a long time ago. I didn't sign up for BP to read back issues of the Cincinnati Enquirer circa 1976.
Hertzel would be worth reading for "insight into what's going on in the minds of the people you disagree with" if his perspective was unique, unpredictable, or well reasoned.
That this guy has a vote says everything you need to know about what is wrong with the HOF. That this guy writes for BP says every you need to know about how much BP has changed, and why this the year I don't renew my subscription.
Grich, Trammell, Raines not even mentioned.
Why is this guy the one BP writer with a ballot?
Why not us BP cards and stats? Or will they not be ready until June.
Facts are not Bob's friend.
What! Now Will Carroll is gone too? And we're left with just Bob Hertzel, John Perratto and the guy from Baseball America?
I think it's time for me to move on as well.
The entire problem with the HOF can be summarized by the fact that this guy has a vote.
I grew up in Cincinnati in the 1960's and 1970's. Pete was my hero. He was every kid's hero. We all ran to first base when we drew a walk. We all batted with a weird crouch. I even had his haircut.
When the accusations came out, I gave Pete the benefit of the doubt. I believed his story. This country is a forgiving place - I figured if he was gambling, he could just claim "addiction" and beg for forgiveness - since he wasn't begging, I thought he must be telling the truth. (I still wonder what might have happened if he took that path 25 years ago.)
20+ years later we find out he has been lying all along. Foolish me for ever believing him. You reap what you sow. Pete had everything, and wanted more, wanted to get away with it. Well, too bad. To hell with him. Keep him out of baseball, out of the HOF forever. He still has his money, and his fame. Its not really a harsh punishment, he leads a nice live I'm sure. But he earned his banishment, his infamy. I have no sympathy.
And I grew up reading Bob Hertzel in the Cincinnati. These rambles down memory lane show just how far BP has strayed from its original mission.
exactly - 30 teams instead of 16 mean there is roughly twice the number of eligible players.
Yes, let's try something novel - like a season without interleague play!
I agree. I think I read this article in 1974 in "Baseball Digest".
(Although I have to give props for the Angel Bravo reference.)
Gotta fix the home team blackout. Otherwise I'll find it somewhere else (Justin.TV, etc), for free.
Shorter, and more.
Best of luck - I hope we read you again soon.
This is why I subscribe to BP. More of this and less "sportswriters" explaining why they are not voting for Tim Raines, please.
I subscribed to BP to read something other than the ignorant ramblings of sportswriters. When they hand out the BWAA cards do they take away your ability for critical thinking?
No Parker! No Mattingly!
This is not even close.
Glad someone noticed.
BP better not be running "best of decade" again next year!
Decade starts in 2011!
Trammell, Blyleven and Raines need to be in the Hall. Now that Rice is in there, we can expect Dawson this year. Dave Parker is saying if Rice is in there, he should be too.
The floodgates have opened.
"Regular" fantasy stats, and more than 20 players.
I'm in a deep AL only league - the fun starts in the players ranked 20-30 at their positions.
John Sterling is unbelievably boring and unlistenable. Every game is Yankee party line, without anything approaching humor or levity.
Kotsay was the closer for Cal State Fullerton. I saw him play against UCLA. 8 innings in CF, in the ninth he closed.
It's time to dump the wild card - as long as the wild card exists there is really only one pennant race each year, and the race is always between 2nd place teams.
2nd place teams don't deserve a shot at the WS.
1) I was also at the two 5-4-3 triple play game - July 17, 1990, Twins vs. Red Sox. Been to several hundred other games, never have seen a triple play. That night, two. Section 36, Row 7.
2) I had a thing for Junior Felix
CalRipkenGriffeyJrFelixJoseCansecodibbeMcDowell - say it all at once