- This Ain’t the NBA. Starting this season, 33% of the teams in baseball will make the playoffs. In the first World Series, one of the eight teams from the National League played one of the thirteen teams in the American Association. Less than 10% of the teams in professional baseball made the playoffs. I’m not suggesting the MLB should revert to those numbers. Hell, I’m not even suggesting that they should go back to a two-division Championship Series format (although I think that would be amazingly awesome). But I’m saying that 33% is too many. Plus, under these rules, we would have had to watch the Red Sox and Braves make the playoffs last year. I think everyone can agree that the more times those two teams make the playoffs, the worse the playoff system is.
- They Already Play 162 Games. If you don’t have a pretty good idea of which teams are the best in baseball after 162 games, maybe there’s something wrong with your sport.
- Last Season Was the Best Day of Sports Ever. My only interest in who made the playoffs last year was to root vehemently against the Cardinals. But the final day of the 2011 season was the greatest day of sports I have ever seen. I leaped off my couch when Evan Longoria hit his home run. Because sports are awesome, even though Tim and Eric fucking suck.
- Five-Game Series Were Already Too Short. One of the biggest complaints about the Divisional Series is that a five-game series isn’t long enough to determine which team is better. The shorter the series, the more likely a bad bounce, a bad call, a lucky break, or (in the case of the White Sox) flat-out cheating is going to screw the better team out of a chance to advance. As if you need to be reminded, Buckner and Bartman both happened in a Game Six.
- Game 163s are Amazing. As ‘Duk already pointed out, there have been six Game 163s since the introduction of the Wild Card system. I hate the White Sox, but I have to admit that the hype around the 2008 “Blackout Game” and Jim Thome’s home run to win it were pretty cool to experience. The 2009 Game 163 between the Tigers and Twins was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever seen, as was ending of the 2007 Padres-Rockies matchup. But, most importantly, I’ll never forget the 1998 tiebreaker from its initial joy to its terrifyingly close finish. ‘Duk argues that the one-game playoff is like an automatic Game 7. I disagree. The magic of Game 163 and Game 7 is that they’re not always necessary, which makes them so special when they come along. Of course, the new format ensures that Game 163s are MORE likely, since there will need to be definitive Division winners and Wild Card winners. Fingers crossed that by 2023, EVERY game will be a deciding Game 7!
- An 84-Win Padres Team is Going to Beat a 103-Win Cubs Team. Dolan and I talked about this the other day (I tried to get him to record it for a podcast), and you know the Cubs are going to finish second in the division behind a 104-win Cardinals team, then get bounced from the playoffs in nine innings. It’s gonna happen!
- Two Teams’ Seasons Will Boil Down to Two Players. In the playoffs, series are often won based on which team gets their ace to throw more innings. A mediocre team with one Roy Halladay and four Ryan Dempsters in its rotation likely has an advantage over a great, deep team with five Matt Garzas in its rotation. Isn’t the whole point of the playoffs to determine which TEAM is better? After a 162-game grind with 25 guys on the roster, two teams’ entire seasons are going to rest on two players.
- If Setting Playoff Pitching Rotations Was Difficult Before, It Really Sucks Now. I’m sure glad I’m not a manager. Not only because apparently the Cubs’ job requires a head balder than Karl Pilkington’s, but also because playoff rotations are going to be a bitch to figure out now. Managers are necessarily going to have to start their aces in the one-game playoff. But that almost certainly means that those aces will only see one start if their team advances to the Divisional Series. See #7.
- This Is Clearly a Money Grab by the Owners. Bud Selig just found another way to make his golfing buddies more money. As if 81 games plus playoff games weren’t enough to buy those ivory backscratchers.
- The Divisional Series Are Terrible in 2012. Because the new playoff system was instituted in a last-minute, half-assed way, the teams with the better records in the 2012 season are going to have to play their first two divisional games on the road before heading back to their parks for the final three. There’s a reason that format only lasted a couple of seasons in the mid-’90s, and the reason is because that format is terrible. A higher-seeded team could find themselves in an 0-2 hole before they even get to play in front of their fans.
Don’t even get me started about how evening the number of teams in each league and creating daily interleague play will hasten the arrival of the universal DH, because I’m already riled up. And- Wait. Oh, God. There’s no way there will be a situation where Chip Caray has to do one of these games, will there?