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I'm glad for all his mistakes, Selig has almost gotten us to the intuitively correct playoff alignment, which is to have have 3 wild card teams, and instead of the 1 game play in, they and the worst division winner are matched up to play in a 5 game series to determine which two advance to face the two best division winners.
I would have preferred that they go back to 2 divisions if they wanted to add more wild cards.
No, it's made finishing runner-up half as valuable as it previously was. But it's done that through weakening finishing fourth*, not increasing the value of finishing first. That lost value was turned over to the fifth-place finisher. The value of winning the division hasn't moved.
Actually, they don't. They aren't buying the "races" for the wild card. Covered in another thread a couple days ago.
Then why would the Cardinals (or Pirates or Reds) care whether or not they finish first? Because they're only choice is first or newly-weakened fourth. By diminishing the value of the safety net, MLB has made winning the division more imperative, and thus more important than it used to be.
Is anyone still clamoring for their to be only two pennant winners in the playoffs? If so you'd be really hard pressed to determine who the best teams are this year wouldnt you?
A bye through a playoff round is just about the perfect reward for the top two regular season teams.
You can dance around it all you want, but the simple fact is that finishing first has the exact same value in 2013 as it did in 2011. It's attractiveness grows in relation to finishing fourth, but its value is the same.
In baseball, I have yet to be completely convinced that it isn't a disadvantage. These guys play every day for months. Asking them to sit for a week and then go full-out is... unexpected.
Why are you looking at "attractiveness" in relative terms but not "value"?
But even if you want to talk about how finishing first has more relative value against finishing second than it did before, then you have to acknowledge that finishing first has less value against finishing third (well, you know what I mean) than it did before.
Are you stupid?????
Look, I'm sorry to make you go through all the examples, we're just using different definitions of value. But, "even if you want to"? It's a discussion of the value of making the playoffs as a division winner vs wildcard vs missing the playoffs,
Nope. The likelihood that the wild card team wins the pennant is still 25%
Only the latter value is meaningful for any practical purpose.
Of course it does. Your road to the championship is far easier relative to not finishing first than it was before.
Think of 2004 in the American League. If we applied the new rules, winning the AL East would gain value for the Yankees against the wildcard, but the hypothetical lost value to Oakland (the 2nd wildcard) wouldn't affect them in any real sense and so does not balance out the gain relative to the first wildcard.
The lesson, as always, is that what the second wild card gives in terms of an improved race one place, it takes away from another race somewhere else in the league.
This is true of any two playoff formats. One works better in some situations, worse in others.
Under the 2011 format, this would be a winner take all game. Winner gets a full playoff share, loser goes home. Under the new one, the loser gets the still-valuable wild card play-in berth.
All of the increased relative value of finishing first vs. runner-up has been transferred to the lost value of finishing first vs. second runner-up. That's it. Finishing first has not been strengthened at all.
The new system punishes finishing first runner-up. It rewards finishing second runner-up. It leaves finishing first alone.
But this seems like a situation that will almost never happen. You're talking about the first place team having a larger cushion than ever before because now it can drop all the way to third. That's undoubtedly true, but it's not something that's going to come up a lot. "The bad news, guys, is that if we keep losing games we'll fall out of first and get stuck in the play-in game. The good news is that if that's going to happen, we can lose even more games, because falling to third place is no problem."
...this previous system delivered us a division race in the AL West that was the height of playoff excitement. Two teams, battling down to the wire, winner moves on, loser goes home.
One problem you have here is that you are arguing taste as if it is fact,("height of playoff excitement") and another is that you are conflating competitive ecology from the standpoint of a generic fan with the value of winning the division to an individual team.
No one is arguing that there aren't trade-offs in the macrosense, and that different systems look better in different years, as we see in 2005:
Win the division and you avoid having to be in that gunfight--that is how the second WC makes winning the division more valuable.
Looking at tomorrow's Reds/Pirates game, the Pirates beat the Reds over 162. But because they failed to beat the Cardinals over 162, beating the Reds over 162 could be a lot less meaningful if the Reds put up 4 runs in the 2nd inning tomorrow. Whoever wins that game will be in the mix with the division winners. But whoever loses it is going home, and they have to play this game in the first place because they didn't win the division.
It makes that one division more valuable. It makes the other division less valuable, a point you say everyone acknowledges but few seem to.
and 1987-93 was probably the very best era in the sport's history.
You were born in 1976-1979.
A decade-plus before, but nice try.
In yesterday's game the Rays led from the start, and never trailed. Yet it was a damn exciting game because both teams were in it and it was an elimination game for both teams. Never mind that it was between the 4th and 5th best teams in the AL - is it often that the three best teams are the three division winners?* - or that we probably all felt going into the game that the Rangers would find a way to lose nonetheless. It was a great game.
the need for larger samples to prove quality, etc.
This year would have had four excellent races with the old divisions: Tigers/Red Sox/Rays/Orioles/Yankees/Indians in the AL East; A's/Rangers in the AL West;
Honestly, if we must have ?30 teams playing in essentially the same league, I'd prefer expansion to 32, strongly imbalanced schedules, and eight 4-team winner-take-all divisions.
If the schedule were imbalanced enough, you'd avoid ?.500 champions for the most part, and there would probably be as many interesting races in September as in any other format, heightened by the concentration of play in small, even-number-sized divisions (you could do what the 1969-92 National League used to do, and play the last few weeks of the season entirely intradivision). Regional interest would go up, and also you could still have some interdivision and interconference play so that the Yankees and Red Sox got around the league once every few years.
My God, I've just described the NFL (except for the wild cards and bye weeks) … but you have to admit they're better at basic arithmetic than Bud and his boys.
Reiterating, the MLB postseason structure never had as a conscious design identifying the "best" team.
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