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Old 05-24-2003, 03:41 AM   #1
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Question NFL Didn't Expand Playoffs - But Will MLB?

At their meeting last week in Philadelphia, the NFL owners decided to not to increase the number of teams qualifying for its postseason - indeed, they ended up not even bringing the matter to a vote.

But baseball may be more open to doing so - if this column, written by Bruce Jenkins and appearing in Friday's San Francisco Chronicle, is to be believed:


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Expanding playoffs is a bright idea

There aren't many better sights in baseball - and especially Oakland - than the second and third decks filled with grade-school kids, adding color and high-pitched volume to an afternoon of perfect weather. From an observer in their midst at the A's-Twins series finale, a few thoughts occurred:

There's a new idea gaining momentum in major-league circles, aimed at creating an extra round of playoffs within the next two years. Oddly enough, in the wake of excessive hand-wringing over high payrolls and (alleged) competitive disparity, the landscape seems fit for the occasion.

The most popular plan, gaining credibility with both MLB and the players' union: Cutting the regular season schedule from 162 games to 154. Adding a wild-card team in each league. Staging two wild-card series, each a best-of-three, while the six division champions take a few days to get their rosters and rotations intact. Then continue over three rounds, as we have it today, with the remaining eight teams.

Whatever arguments may come from traditionalists, wild-card outrage is pointless; the concept is here to stay. Adding another team would, in most cases, only intensify the intrigue of the September races. The real issue is whether there are 10 teams worthy of playoff status in a given year.

At the moment, there's no doubt. The early season has rekindled four solid rivalries in the American League: A's-Yankees, A's-Twins, Yankees-Red Sox and Twins-White Sox. There would be no disgrace in seeing Seattle or Anaheim involved. So whatever Commissioner Bud Selig might say about competitive imbalance, that's seven teams (or six, if you discount Chicago) with a realistic shot of winning it all.

The National League's depth is even greater. There's a terrific four-team race looming in the Central Division, featuring the ultra-talented Cardinals, Dusty Baker's Cubs, the Jeff Kent-Jeff Bagwell Astros and the Austin Kearns-Adam Dunn Reds. Nobody questions the Giants' potential, and the Diamondbacks' demise could give way to the Dodgers' ascent. The East has the ridiculously consistent Braves and the young, exciting Expos and Phillies.

Bring it on, we say. Just make sure the won-lost records determine the home-field advantages, not the All-Star Game, pie-eating contests or a game of Yahtzee.
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:06 PM   #2
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i think it should happen. 8 teams out of 30 is not enough they should have more and i beliee 6 would be a good number. it should be either
1) a division winner and WC from each div.

or

2) 3 division winners and 3 WCs based on best record regardless of division

IMO 2 is fairer. then what they should do is rank the team 1-6 with 1 and 2 getting byes
and having a best of 3 or 5 between
3-6
4-5
they need to make the rounds quick so the play offs don't take 2 months. so maybe a 3 game set in at the HF of the highest ranked team or have 5 games in 6-7 nights.

Basically i say bring on more play offs its good for baseball
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:23 PM   #3
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It is terrible for baseball. It's not like having a lot of playoff teams has helped the NBA.
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:47 PM   #4
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Please MLB, DON'T! Don't be as f***ed up as the NBA is!! Having less playoff teams will make the teams play harder, and make the 1st round playoff games MUCH more meaningful than the the NBA.
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:56 PM   #5
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I like the theory behind it, allowing the actual division winners a chance to regroup from the regular season, and I wouldn't even mind cutting the schedule to 154 games.

However, baseball is the one sport where the playoffs are still elite and only the best of the best get in, instead of half the league. Don't cry if you didn't get in because you won only 93 games, play harder.

I like the Wild Card, because you still have to have a damned good team to get in. But too many dilutes the playoff talent pool.
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Old 05-24-2003, 03:03 PM   #6
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Agreed. I like the fact that it is so hard to get into the MLB playoffs. As everyone's already stated, the playoffs just seem more meaningful when only the best are playing for the title.
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Old 05-24-2003, 04:15 PM   #7
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Yup, and it's also a fact that you know ANY of the 8 playoff teams has a chance to win the World Series, while in the NBA you can say there's no way in hell for 3/4 of them.
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Old 05-25-2003, 03:35 AM   #8
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Interestingly, there are some things about this proposal that "traditionalists" should actually favor! First, it brings back the 154-game regular season, which of course was the standard in the "golden age" these people claim to yearn for a return to; plus, adding two more teams to the postseason would place a higher premium on winning your division, since then such teams would get a first-round bye.

But there are a few "side issues" which will need to be looked at before baseball plunges headlong into this. First, should the two wild cards in each league be defined specifically as the two best second-place teams, or should both wild cards be allowed to come from the same division? Personally I would opt for the former; second-place teams still playing in October is one thing, but a third-place team is going too far. And with the schedule now "unbalanced," meaning that teams are playing a large proportion of their games within the same division, it makes all the more sense to cap the number of playoff teams that can come from the same division at two - it makes the division rivalries that much more meaningful.

Ground rules will also have to be established for when to extend the regular season to make up rained-out games. If they do it right (too much to ask?), they will decree that in no case will any games be made up to determine "seeding" between two teams that are definitely in the playoffs; if at the end of the regular season one such team is a half-game ahead of another, that's the way it goes. And they might even need to seriously consider forgoing one-game playoffs to break ties for division titles and wild cards as well and use tie-breaking procedures the way the other three major sports do; with a longer postseason, holding one-game playoffs in these situations would push everything back, and the suits would need to decide whether this is something everybody can live with.

The moral of the story is that unintended consequences can come back to haunt you in a big way, as the NFL has found out with sudden-death overtime; as a result, instead of a few games a year ending in a tie, a few seasons a year end in a tie, in that teams end up missing the playoffs despite finishing with the same record as other teams that do qualify, when in the pre-overtime era these races were usually decided by half-game margins (e.g., a 9-4-1 team beating out a 9-5 team for a wild card).

So the "Lords of Baseball" had better think this thing out very thoroughly.
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Old 05-27-2003, 03:47 PM   #9
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Anthony,

As a traditionalist, my heart skipped with glee when I saw the number 154. GREAT call to get it back down to that many games. We need more double headers though, and not those day-night ones where they clear the stadium for a few hours and then another game is played. Of course, that costs money, so getting back to more traditional double headers is VERY unlikely.

However, IMO, it would be unwise for baseball to do anything to change the current playoff format until the divisions can have an equal amount of teams in them again. I still don't understand why we can't get another team in the AL West through a move, or realignment again. Then we could have 6 five team divisions, nice and neat. I hate interleague, and would love to see it go. But if we have it, your tie breaker using it Anthony seems fair IMO.
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Old 05-27-2003, 06:51 PM   #10
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I think they should allow a few more teams in. I mean, in the West division in the AL and NL the past few seasons like 2 games have separated Seallte/Oakland/Anaheim/SanFran/LA/Arz, not to mention how close other teams come to their division title. why not let in a few more teams? Not 16 in total like the NBA or NHL but a few more.
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Old 05-27-2003, 07:16 PM   #11
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I think it is good the way they have it now because it guarantees that the 2 best teams (record wise) will get at least a shot at the World Series. I remember that one season when the Braves and Giants both won over 100 games, but only the Braves made the postseason because it was the old NL West.

But , to have possibly the 6th best team in the majors going for a title seems a little rediculous. They play 162 games for a reason. I am against the expansion of playoffs to another round.
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Old 05-28-2003, 10:39 PM   #12
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Well, as a Cinderella lover, and as the anti-purist, I'm all for expanding the playoffs. I can see the point about the playoffs being just for the elite, that's what makes baseball special, etc...but two posters said that teams that don't make it into that elite 8 team field should "try harder." That's the problem? Not trying hard enough? Should be interesting, then, when all teams give 100%.
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Old 05-29-2003, 02:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by buckeyefan78
Anthony,

As a traditionalist, my heart skipped with glee when I saw the number 154. GREAT call to get it back down to that many games. We need more double headers though, and not those day-night ones where they clear the stadium for a few hours and then another game is played. Of course, that costs money, so getting back to more traditional double headers is VERY unlikely.

However, IMO, it would be unwise for baseball to do anything to change the current playoff format until the divisions can have an equal amount of teams in them again. I still don't understand why we can't get another team in the AL West through a move, or realignment again. Then we could have 6 five team divisions, nice and neat. I hate interleague, and would love to see it go. But if we have it, your tie breaker using it Anthony seems fair IMO.

If the players' union had its way, there would have been 15 teams in both leagues a long time ago; but the owners are against it since it would mean constant interleague play (one such series going on most of the time, and occasionally three), instead of everybody playing their interleague games at selected times of the season, as is done now. When interleague play was first implemented, having all teams play their interleague games at the same time arguably made sense, but not any more. And as I pointed out once before, what would be so bad about, say, a Mets-Yankees series on the last weekend of the regular season, with playoff implications on the line for either or both? What could possibly beat that for "drama"?

But no matter how they did it, there are only eight teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, meaning that with six 5-team divisions, two Central Time Zone teams would be stuck in the Western Division (of either league or both), when at present only one such team (the Texas Rangers) must deal with this problem.

As for more doubleheaders - that's a collective bargaining issue, and the owners would have to offer the union something in return in order to get them to agree to it.
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Old 05-29-2003, 02:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by KevinBeane
Well, as a Cinderella lover, and as the anti-purist, I'm all for expanding the playoffs. I can see the point about the playoffs being just for the elite, that's what makes baseball special, etc...but two posters said that teams that don't make it into that elite 8 team field should "try harder." That's the problem? Not trying hard enough? Should be interesting, then, when all teams give 100%.
I said that, and I stand by that. I don't think they do play 100% all the time, at least in the early going. If there's a nagging injury or some other excuse, a player may likely sit out a game in April, because it "doesn't mean much." Well, a game in April is the same as a game in September in the standings. I guess that's just a pet peeve from me when people say games in April don't mean as much.
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Old 05-29-2003, 05:22 PM   #15
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Whoa. Did I read that right? 78 would permit playoff expansion if they added a team to the AL West? Wow. Consider me dumbfounded.

I heard about this idea a week or so ago, and heard a self-proclaimed purist claim he liked the idea because it meant more teams would hang around in the playoff hunt longer, meaning better turnouts in baseball-poor areas, which equals more revenue for the revenue-poor.

As Anthony points out, there are definitely some issues to be worked out, but the purist I heard support this idea suggested that this could work to help baseball, if failing to fix it fully, by potentially providing revenue in revenue-poor venues, when he'd rather see a hard salary cap and a hard salary floor, neither of which baseball is likely to have anytime soon. (The failure of the bigger markets to force a floor on the smaller markets is one of several dozen failures of the CBA agreed to last year.)

Comparisons of MLB playoff expansion to the NBA playoffs doesn't strike me as meaningful, though. The NBA has 29 teams, with more than half (16) making the playoffs. MLB has 30 teams, with only 8 making the playoffs. How is expanding the number of teams from 8 to 12 making it like the NBA or NHL playoffs? I don't get it. MLB is still allowing less than half of its population in the playoffs, while the NBA and NHL would throw in everybody if there was a stomach for it.

This whole elitist argument fails to move me. Baseball is a game like all the others. And while purists may argue that it has been horribly watered down (and it has), the fact is that the game needs help financially and in the TV realm and with younger fans. If playoff expansion is the route to avoid MLB collapse (an arguable premise, to be sure), I'd think purists would prefer playoff expansion.

Myself, I was hoping that MLB destroyed itself last season, took some time off restructuring, and came back next year with a product that could compete against the NFL. As it is now, baseball is a sport only sports-lovers (which I am) and purists can love. And purists continue to have their questions...

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