|Who needs more crazy gimmicks when you have these guys? MORE SAUSAGE RACES MLB!|
Casey is a frequent contributor to Boris Diaw Time! and a regular guest on the Boris Diaw Time! podcast. Considering my lack of knowledge/interest in all matters baseball, Casey is our unquestioned head of the MLB department. Also, Casey actually knows how to write so I don't have to edit the crap out of the things he sends me...unlike certain other contributors...*cough* Prince *cough*...
Why do I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who thinks MLB is being dumb right now? Oh sure, on the surface, and perhaps to the casual fan, it appears they’re trying to address the pressing issues within the sport. If you’ve paid any attention to baseball media over the last year, you’ve been told there is great need for another playoff team in each league. We all know that one league has more teams than the other, and, well, that’s just goofy. And finally, we all know the current setup is unfair for the Orioles and Pirates, and unless something is done right away, neither team will ever make the playoffs again!
Okay, so I meant for some of that to be a little sarcastic, but some of it is true, too! Sure, there really are some quirks in the game right now that deserve some looking into – but to think that the mere existence of discussions means they must be brewing up effective solutions is just stupid (see: NFL)! Let’s actually look a little deeper into the problems and the solutions supposedly being considered right now.
First of all, I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for awhile now; I am adamantly AGAINST adding a second wildcard team – especially if that team is basically going to flip a coin with the other wildcard team, bringing a whole new reality to the term “wildcard”. You know what I’m talking about – a one-game playoff between the two wildcard teams. This is more idiotic than having six teams in one division and four in another! Think about it; a team could finish seven games better than another team over the course of a grinding 162-game season, just to be dismissed because of one rough outing, one misfortune in how the starting rotation plays out, one bad call, one hanging curveball…the list could go on. We all know that, on any given day, a bad team could beat a good team in baseball – more so than any other popular sport played in America. Look, we’re all already weary of sitting through 162 games. Let’s not make those 162 games even LESS meaningful!
“But Casey, this will make it more exciting!” Let’s consider a few other scenarios that would also be more exciting: the warning track is a bed of hot coals and all outfielders must play barefooted; instead of running to 1st, batters must moonwalk; the pitcher gets to swap the baseball with a grenade thrice during a game on pitches of his choosing; and (my personal favorite) we place a woodchopper between 3rd and home and the runner has to jump over it before scoring. Now, are any of these GOOD ideas? (Please don’t answer that question!) My severely over-stated point is, just saying something is more exciting is never a sufficient argument. It’s merely a ‘pro’, against which ‘cons’ must be weighed.
In reality, I think the most conventional argument for this new proposal right now is that it brings more meaning to division races. Sure, we all can think of instances where a first-place and a second-place team go through the motions of the last series of the regular season, because both are content with either the division title or a wildcard spot. However, I don’t think this argument makes sense in the big picture. Aren’t we JUST as likely to have a different but similar scenario happen if there is an extra wildcard team? Last season, the Giants, Braves, and Padres were in a three-way battle for two playoff spots, going down to the last game of the season. It was one of the most fascinating playoff races in recent baseball memory. Guess what? If the proposed new wildcard scheme would have been in effect then, all three teams would have had a playoff berth. Sure, you could say the Giants and Padres would still be playing for the first-round bye, and that would still be exciting – but the Braves’ role in the race would be removed, making it less exciting.
The point is, in ANY sport, any time you add OR remove a playoff team; it takes away some races, just to add others. There’s always going to be a cutoff somewhere, it’s just a question of where. So I’m sick of hearing people talk about new exciting scenarios – it’s a wash! The only new excitement comes from the part where we have a one-game playoff. That’s the part we need to be discussing… and that’s the part that really has me perplexed. If we can all agree that the one game playoff is essentially a crapshoot, then what’s really happening is we’re reducing the number of ‘legitimate’ playoff spots.
Think about it - there would really only be six teams out of 30 that could play well enough during the regular season to control their own destiny in the postseason. Hmm, last time I checked, baseball already has by far the fewest number of its teams in the postseason compared to other American major sports. Think back to last postseason – eight teams, and you could see any of them (well, maybe any but the Reds…) making the World Series. Try saying that in football or basketball! There’s so much integrity in an 8-team playoff field! It’s clean, you’re very unlikely to get bad teams in there, and every series is important! Is the playoff field really one of major league baseball’s pressing problems right now? I just haven’t been convinced, not even slightly. When you compare it to other major sports, it is maybe the BEST thing going for MLB right now! The real issue they’re trying to solve here is the division races that aren’t as exciting as they want them to be. It’s about the regular season, not the playoffs.
Of course it’s about the regular season! Baseball is trying to convince us we should pay money to attend 1/162 of a team’s season! Try convincing the public that that is relevant! No doubt, MLB has a difficult task at hand here. In recent memory, they’ve tried things – interleague play being by far the most notable, and perhaps most successful. But after more than a decade, it’s lost its intrigue. You no longer have matchups for the first time since that legendary World Series 100 years ago. It’s no longer a novelty to see C.C. trying to wield a bat. Yankees-Mets is just another regular series that happens every year (oh, and also the Mets always suck now). In short, baseball’s looking for some new excitement.
Now, in light of the above, tell me this; WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU GET RID OF DIVISIONS?!?!? I see the big-wigs sitting around the table having this discussion: “We need something exciting for the regular season!” “Well, you know how rivalries like Yankees-Red Sox, Giants-Dodgers, and Cards-Cubs are some of the few sellers we still have? Let’s have them play fewer games against each other!” “Yes, that’s a great idea – abolishing the concept of division rivalry is the perfect move!”
Okay, here’s what I really think is happening. I think they’re sick of hearing how dumb it is that there are 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other… and I think they’re literally too dumb to fix it without getting rid of divisions. Well, fortunately I have had extensive mathematical training, and I have come up with an advanced solution to this equation: take one team from the 6-team division, and put it in the 4-team division!!! What a concept!
Okay, I know I’ve been ranting for long enough now, so here are my closing thoughts. Of all these stupid ideas, the dumbest part of it all is that MLB is now talking out of both sides of its mouth. If we’re talking about getting rid of divisions, why are we still talking about a fifth playoff team in each league? The whole argument for adding the extra playoff team revolves around the concept of wildcards – making sure we’re making the course harder for a team that doesn’t win their division, making sure division winners are rewarded properly, etc. Well, guess what, guys? If we have no more divisions, there’s no such thing as a wildcard anymore!!!! I’m starting to feel like I’m the only person in the world who’s put two and two together here, and now I’m really, really starting to worry. MLB, it’s time for you to make up your mind. Which is it that you want? Please don’t break my heart! I love baseball. Sure, we’ve been through some rough patches with work stoppages and steroids and all, but the kind of nonsense I’m hearing now is really making me think we’re headed toward the NFL-zone – had a good product, and screwed it up for no good reason!
Well, that’s all for me. Next week; Scott Cousins sends Buster Posey an e-card, Posey marks it as spam, and Brian Sabean files a report to the FBI about it.
In case you were wondering, the answer is YES, I'M STILL CELEBRATING THE FALL OF LEBRON/MIAMI. Don't worry Lebron, I'll get back to the real world someday. Would I normally be upset about DeShawn Stevenson running his mouth about the "classless" Miami Heat? Well, considering Stevenson's pedigree as a trouble making, thuggish, underachieving nobody...I guess I probably would. Still, I'm in a generous mood to anyone not named Lebron or not wearing a Miami Heat Speedo (I'm making the assumption that everyone on South Beach walks around in a Speedo...not sure if this is correct, but it's my worldview). So, good work DeShawn. You earned the right to run your mouth after getting demoted to the bench! In all seriousness, I would give nearly anything to see Jason Terry run like a jet through downtown Miami while Dirk follows him in an Audi, his head sticking out the sunroof, screaming insults at Miami fans in German. I could go on and on...
In case you didn't get a chance to read it earlier, here is my Finals wrap-up from yesterday.
Also, our good friend Nate Dunlevy from 18to88.com wrote a terrific piece on the dissimilarities between NBA Playoff legacies/judgments and NFL Playoff legacies/judgments. Nate and I have talked about this before on the podcast and he presents an excellent argument for why the comparisons cannot accurately be made. Follow the link here and check it out...it's well worth your time.
Lastly, the direction of Boris Diaw Time! will obviously be shifting with the end of the NBA season. As you can likely tell, I am a basketball fan first and eveything else comes second. There is still plenty of interesting NBA stuff going on (draft, offseason, labor situation) and I'll spend a lot of time on that, but we are going to be a bit slower over the summer. Coming up in the next few weeks will be a heavy dose of NBA Draft content. I'll go over many of the prospects, talk about players I like, players I hate, team needs, possible steals, and then cap it off with a mock draft shortly before the June 23 draft. Also, I have a lot of thoughts on the current NBA labor situation and I'll take the time to talk about that at least once before the draft. My big project for the summer will be team by team NBA offseason previews. Perhaps that won't be interesting for all of you, but hey, it's my web site and I love the NBA. If you don't like it, then flood my email with requests for Casey to write more baseball stuff!