Monday, October 17, 2011

Changing the MLB playoff format, part II

LittleCuz and I are still debating this issue in PMs on FB.  If you missed the first installment of the discussion, the link is here.

As opposed to the first post where I published a rebuttal, this post is simply me copying verbatim our discussion.  Please feel free to add your two cents worth.

Zebster"You want another round of playoffs, a one-game round at that. Does the fact that the Cardinals (who got in on the last day because the Braves had the 2nd greatest choke of all time) are going to win the World Series change that opinion?"

 LittleCuz"No, it only re-enforces it, besides like I told you at the cook out, I'd rather see a 3 game series. The fact that we almost had not one but 2 one game play offs and the attention that got, tells me that extra series could be good for baseball. Did you listen to the sports talk radio stations the day after the season ended? Lots of comments about how exciting it was and looking forward to, indeed, hoping for the excitement of a one game playoff. Not everyone is a hard core traditionalist like you Zeb, if they were we'd still be playing 9 game World series and have no DH."

Zebster:   "I like the DH. No one wants to see pitchers hit (or not hit). I'm not so much a traditionalist as I am a fan of history, and I hate watching teams get hot for one month and win a championship when they're not the best team or at least one of the 4 best. If that's the attitude, then it makes the regular season irrelevant. So let's shorten it then. Cut the season in half, let everyone into the playoffs playing 7 game series if the point is just excitement for those who don't care for the game anyway."

LittleCuz: "See I don't see it as people who don't care for the game anyway, those people won't watch games anyway, because the don't care. Let's look at hockey for sec. They hang on to the traditions even though it alienates 80% of the sports population. That's why you have to watch hockey on Versus and not ESPN. So I don't want MLB making those same mistakes. So it's more about making the game more appealing to the average fan. The diehards (you and I) will watch no matter what. I wouldn't mind shortening the season 20 games and having an extra round or two. However that's not going to happen. So it's not worth talking about. Kansas City, or Boston or New York for that matter aren't going to give up those regular season ticket sales.

So there fore let's talk about solutions that are actually viable. Whether we like it or not, when there's an MLB playoff game going on at the same time as a regular season NFL game, the NFL game gets better ratings. It's the average fan that makes the difference, not the diehards. If baseball alienates the average fan, baseball will be history.

As for the history of the game, it's so far from what it was in the "good old days" that trying to make it matter doesn't make sense any more. The DH (which I agree with you on), pitch counts and the wild card have already severed any link the modern game has to it's origins.

I also don't buy the "teams get hot for a month" argument. The same thing happens in all sports Zeb, even hockey. You've said it yourself, a goalie gets hot for a month and an average team beats a great teams so I don't see how your St. Louis argument applies."

Zebster:  "Any sport that caters to the average fan will lose the diehards eventually. So you decide if you really want to cater to the average fan because the diehards are the ones who buy the tickets and the tv packages. The NHL almost killed itself trying to cater to average fans and geographic locations that didn't really care. The huge boom in Nascar was due in part to trying everything possible to cater to the mainstream (many of those changes were hated by the traditionalists), then when it wasn't chique anymore, it almost crashed completely. Yes, you need to be smart and do some thing to make your sport grow but you're in trouble if you do that at the expense of your diehard fans who love the sport intrinsically. The fairweather fan is not any place to bet your survival.
Baseball's playoff format is unique. Having something in your sport unique is not a bad thing. Having the baseball playoffs look like the NHL or NBA just because they let everybody in isn't a good reason to do it.
Again, if you look at my argument about the right way to bring interest to the sport, it is by shortening the regular season, making each game more important. That's a more "honest" way of creating interest IMO. The other thing you do, while nearly impossible, is to get a true salary cap.

Since I started piecing this together, the Cardinals won game 6 last night, punching their ticket to the World Series.  With their momentum, they would seem to be the favorite.  Does anyone other than me have a problem with a team squeaking into the playoffs winning the World Series, which would be potentially worse if more teams were in the playoffs.


dasnake said...

hello all, when the wild card first came into play i was on the fence, firstly, the five game series, i didn't like it and i still don't. a wild card team that comes in hot has a far better chance at winning three out of five than a pennant winner who have been cruising and using their larger roster down the stretch.
secondly, i thought it was a money maker in the nhl sense, but i don't feel that way now. a one game playoff? i wouldn't like to see that fly, one hot game, one bad game and the good team could/would be out, but a three game would give everyone a fighting chance, just like i didn't like the five game series and i probably wouldn't like a one or three game series it would open different areas to a world series that to me isn't viable to a lot of small markets. we are going to have a series this year that for the fans like us it will be great, hard hitting small ball that you have to think like a manager and pay attention to the game compared to just sitting there blankly watching a "game". but to the fan nowadays who doesn't pay attention to stats, batting prowess, pitching prowess and managing methods, hew york, boston, philly et al will be missed and the games won't be watched. i love baseball and always have been a yankees fan since before the dodgers and the giants moved, so it doesn't matter whether big market or small i will be there, but a lot won't, just my two cents.

Brent said...

I might watch a game in this World Series. I am definitely rooting for the Rangers.

And as a casual fan, I don't want to see another round of playoffs for baseball. I would like to see the regular season shortened. 162 games is way too long to keep my interest. Imagine what it is like for people that are in their 20's.

dasnake said...

anyone watching the series, is it always so quiet here baseball wise? who are you cheering for at talledega?

tpubgu said...

The baseball season has always been like running a marathon rather than a sprint, mile or 10k run. It rewards the teams that plays the best over the long run rather than short spikes.

I am willing to look reducing the number of games to like 154 or whatever it was before that (132?); but nothing less because of the marathon example.

I think Little Cuz was way off base with trying to get an extra 3, 5 or 7 games series to decide who goes into the playoffs. I think this was was an amalgamation of teams teams dying at the end of the marathon, so a one-game win-in, if you will, is appropriate. If you can't win that 163rd game, you don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

The season is long enough, I hate to see it spread out to December.

Brent said...

I watched Game 1. It was OK. And how do you really choose a team to root for in this series when you are an Astros fan? The Strangers are the closest team to us and the Red Birds are a hated division rival.

Baseball here isn't the top sport discussed, but it has been rather quiet on that front.

Zebster said...

This Red Sox fan doesn't have much to say since I don't have a dog in this hunt and we're still in shock about the end of the season and waiting for all the pieces to fall where they will. I would like to see the Rangers win, being an AL team, and I am keeping an eye on the Series. The other 3 original members of this blog, also BoSox fans, I can't get to write anymore. I'm more of a baseball fan than the other sports but I do find it the hardest to write about sometimes.
As for 'dega, I'll still be rooting for the 43, 9 and 4. I am hoping for a new champion this year.

dasnake said...

hey, that's what i wanted to see, i'm a devout yankee fan, i even have the tophat logo tattooed on my leg, and don't get snotty, i'm old, and i'm allowed to do things that younger people wouldn't/couldn't, as for the series, i don't care, i just want to watch good ball, that's what the game is all about, for me, game seven, tied score end of the ninth, yahoo.

as for 'dega, can't wait, great race today, c'mon number 88.