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Why-ld Card?


Phils Phan

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Other than money what justifiable reason is there for the Wild Card in baseball to exist? It used to be so perfect, to have a chance to make the post season, you had to be a champion in the regular season. While obviously some teams had it easier than others some years, but it made sense when you play 162 games that you should at least be a division champion to earn a shot at the October crapshoot.

Now though? Finish 5th best in the League. Why 5th? Heck it we're letting 5th in, why not 6, see the number of teams now is arbitrary. If in 162 games you don't separate yourself as the best, it's complete bull that you just have to do good for a few weeks and you'll be declared World Champions. It sucks honestly. What's the point of the regular season now? What are the races now? A race to play one more game? Where you can just be third in your division yet be called the best because of one month? It's all pointless. It's a mess now, they were correct in calling the Braves-Giants chase in 1993 "The

Last True Pennant Chase".

Sigh.

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Yes, money, but there's also excitement. It keeps more fans involved and excited right up to the end of the season, even after division titles are wrapped up. Plus it rewards good teams who might happen to be in a tough division. Is it fair that a hypothetical 95-win team that's not a division champion misses the playoffs while an 85-win team that is the best of a weak division does?

There's also alignment. As soon as MLB went to three divisions per league, they pretty much had to add a wild card team. The second wild card seems a little pointless, because like the A's this year, you play 162 games only to play one more, but it's not that bad.

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Yes, money, but there's also excitement. It keeps more fans involved and excited right up to the end of the season, even after division titles are wrapped up. Plus it rewards good teams who might happen to be in a tough division. Is it fair that a hypothetical 95-win team that's not a division champion misses the playoffs while an 85-win team that is the best of a weak division does?

There's also alignment. As soon as MLB went to three divisions per league, they pretty much had to add a wild card team. The second wild card seems a little pointless, because like the A's this year, you play 162 games only to play one more, but it's not that bad.

Artificial excitement. Why stop at 5? Why not 10? Then everyone would be excited!

And is it fair that one team can win 95 games and another only win 85 yet that 85 win team merely has to win one game and then they're at the same stage.

They didn't have to realign, and even if they had to a bye for the best record in the League and a quick best of 3 between the other two would be far superior.

Every league has non-division champions. Why should baseball be different? Whoever wins the championship is the champion. It doesn't matter where you are once you're in the playoffs.

Well that's not counting leagues that care about tradition like the EPL. And it sucks in every sport, but in baseball it's especially worse since they already play 162 GAMES. And no that's not remotely fair, why should one month be all that really matters when the other team was so much better the other 6?

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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

Yes, exactly. It's like the shootout being "unnatural." What is natural?
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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

Yes, exactly. It's like the shootout being "unnatural." What is natural?

Robert Redford?

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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

Well it's arbitrary by baseball standards. For over 120 years, since the dawn of the professional game, you had to be a champion in the regular season to potentially be crowned the champion. Then some numnuts realized they didn't have large enough mansions and made it so you only have to be good, not great for 6 months and then be over .500 in one month and...bam! "World Champions".

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I like the previous format with one wildcard. 8 out of 30 teams making the playoffs is perfect, and four out of 28/30 would be too few. With a third of the teams "making the playoffs" now, it's too much. Baseball is a marathon, and all the games need to mean something. It's silly that a team can get a wildcard now, potentially finishing with the second best record in baseball, be declared to be "in the playoffs," but have their entire playoff experience possibly end after one game, in what was previously known as a regular-season tiebreaker game. You don't make the playoffs and get eliminated in one game. That's not baseball. That's fine for football, but not for a sport that is all about endurance and everybody being required to contribute, and not just relying on one superstar.

And if the new commish is anything like Selig, it's only a matter of time before baseball waters itself down to a 16 team playoff like the NBA and NHL. If after 162 games the best you can do it determine the top 16 teams, you've failed as a league. The games have to mean something. Nobody is going to give a crap about going to a Tuesday night game in early August when their team has already clinched a playoff birth. At that point, it's just Ugh, wake me up when the playoff start.

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I like the previous format with one wildcard. 8 out of 30 teams making the playoffs is perfect, and four out of 28/30 would be too few. With a third of the teams "making the playoffs" now, it's too much. Baseball is a marathon, and all the games need to mean something. It's silly that a team can get a wildcard now, potentially finishing with the second best record in baseball, be declared to be "in the playoffs," but have their entire playoff experience possibly end after one game, in what was previously known as a regular-season tiebreaker game. You don't make the playoffs and get eliminated in one game. That's not baseball. That's fine for football, but not for a sport that is all about endurance and everybody being required to contribute, and not just relying on one superstar.

And if the new commish is anything like Selig, it's only a matter of time before baseball waters itself down to a 16 team playoff like the NBA and NHL. If after 162 games the best you can do it determine the top 16 teams, you've failed as a league. The games have to mean something. Nobody is going to give a crap about going to a Tuesday night game in early August when their team has already clinched a playoff birth. At that point, it's just Ugh, wake me up when the playoff start.

Yeah I could somewhat tolerate it with one Wild Card, at least they were "The best of the rest", but now with 5 making the playoffs has really lost it's importance and they've created a 162 game race to appear in one more game. When teams have to decide and plan out if they're gonna celebrate certain clinches, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Back in the good days that was a non-issue, every clinch was extremely significant.
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I agree with the premise that the best teams over 162 games should be rewarded. From 1903 to 1968, we had two leagues playing balanced schedules and the 162 games each played should have done a pretty good job of determining who was best. And, of course, without interleague, it made the World Series all that much more interesting...Detroit's 98 wins was not necessarily better than St. Louis's 93 wins since they played entirely different schedules. There is a certain "purity" to this (though this is somewhat a synonym for "natural", which has already been debunked in this thread).

However, starting in 1969, most of that purity was gone anyway. For example, the 1987 Twins did win their division and they did perform well in the postseason but playing an essentially balanced schedule, they had fewer wins than four AL East Teams that year. One could argue that having two wild cards (i.e., the Twins and Tigers as division champs, Blue Jays and Brewers as WildCard and the Yankees still unfairly out behind the Twins) would have actually improved the fairness that year.

So essentially, we have four choices:

  • Go "deadball" and just have one team per league
  • No divisions and pick the top-4, 5, or whatever, but this still allows teams to get in without "winning anything"
  • Division champs only (which, as we have seen, still lends itself to potential unfairness)
  • Wild Cards (which can let mediocrity in but can also provide some justice to a 100-win second-place team)

On the above, the only way to assure true integrity in the championship race is to use the first bullet. Obviously, that's never going to happen because having the majority of the teams out of the race by the All-Star Break is not a good way to keep fans watching.

The advantages to the current system, as I see them, are:

  • Fans of most teams have at least outside hope into late summer (which is probably the key to the "money" argument)
  • It makes "buying" championships harder. Teams can have a huge payroll and probably get to the playoffs, but in the playoffs anything can happen.
  • Corrects the potential error of the 2nd-best team being left out. It's really the best way for that type of justice to be administered under a division system.

To nitpick a bit, I would rather keep with the one wild card format for the simple reason that the current format can give an advantage to the weaker wild card team (as someone here suggested in July when it looked like the A's and Angels could fight to the finish with the loser not having its rotation set, finishing several games in front of Seattle and having to face King Felix; this did not play out but in theory it could some day).

I get it. a 162-game schedule could have built-in championship integrity. But the OP cuts right into that by wishing for divisions anyway. It's kinda all (pre-division) or none. As soon as we have divisions, we risk damaging the integrity of the pennant race. But I am not convinced the game would survive with only two postseason teams. This three-division format is as good as anything I guess.

To Old Roman's point...right now MLB is still the sport where it is "special" to make the playoffs. But they are really teetering on the edge there. 5 out of 15 per league is not much better than 6 of 16 in a pro football conference. I hope they don't expand more.

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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

Well it's arbitrary by baseball standards. For over 120 years, since the dawn of the professional game, you had to be a champion in the regular season to potentially be crowned the champion. Then some numnuts realized they didn't have large enough mansions and made it so you only have to be good, not great for 6 months and then be over .500 in one month and...bam! "World Champions".

No sport should have it where the second best team, after a freaking marathon season, could potentially miss the playoffs just because they were unlucky enough to be in the same division as the best team. Baseball needs to have fewer playoff spots than other sports to preserve the regular season, but four playoff teams out of 30 would be just silly. The 1993 Giants missed the playoffs when winning 103 games. That's a great story. The 85 win Twins riding homefield advantage to a game 7 championship win after winning the playoff spot from the Island of the Misfit Toys? Not so great.

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I agree with the premise that the best teams over 162 games should be rewarded. From 1903 to 1968, we had two leagues playing balanced schedules and the 162 games each played should have done a pretty good job of determining who was best. And, of course, without interleague, it made the World Series all that much more interesting...Detroit's 98 wins was not necessarily better than St. Louis's 93 wins since they played entirely different schedules. There is a certain "purity" to this (though this is somewhat a synonym for "natural", which has already been debunked in this thread).

However, starting in 1969, most of that purity was gone anyway. For example, the 1987 Twins did win their division and they did perform well in the postseason but playing an essentially balanced schedule, they had fewer wins than four AL East Teams that year. One could argue that having two wild cards (i.e., the Twins and Tigers as division champs, Blue Jays and Brewers as WildCard and the Yankees still unfairly out behind the Twins) would have actually improved the fairness that year.

So essentially, we have four choices:

  • Go "deadball" and just have one team per league
  • No divisions and pick the top-4, 5, or whatever, but this still allows teams to get in without "winning anything"
  • Division champs only (which, as we have seen, still lends itself to potential unfairness)
  • Wild Cards (which can let mediocrity in but can also provide some justice to a 100-win second-place team)
On the above, the only way to assure true integrity in the championship race is to use the first bullet. Obviously, that's never going to happen because having the majority of the teams out of the race by the All-Star Break is not a good way to keep fans watching.

The advantages to the current system, as I see them are:

  • Fans of most teams have at least outside hope into late summer (which is probably the key to the "money" argument)
  • It makes "buying" championships harder. Teams can have a huge payroll and probably get to the playoffs, but in the playoffs anything can happen.
  • Corrects the potential error of the 2nd-best team being left out. It's really the best way for that type of justice to be administered under a division system.

To nitpick a bit, I would rather keep with the one wild card format for the simple reason that this format can give an advantage to the weaker wild card team (as someone here suggested in July when it looked like the A's and Angels could fight to the finish with the loser not having its rotation set, finishing several games in front of Seattle and having to face King Felix; this did not play out but in theory it could some day).

I get it. a 162-game schedule could have built-in championship integrity. But the OP cuts right into that by wishing for divisions anyway. It's kinda all (pre-division) or none. As soon as we have divisions, we risk damaging the integrity of the pennant race. But I am not convinced the game would survive with only two postseason teams. This three-division format is as good as anything I guess.

To Old Roman's point...right now MLB is still the sport where it is "special" to make the playoffs. But they are really teetering on the edge there. 5 out of 15 per league is not much better than 6 of 16 in a pro football conference. I hope they don't expand more.

Believe me if it were up to me it would be one team from each league, no interleague play, however I do like to think in the tiniest fraction of what is possible nowadays. At least make it so you have to win SOMETHING, so at least the season is still a chase for the prize instead of a chase for one game on the road or one game at home or a division title that really doesn't mean much.
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Complaining about sports being arbitrary doesn't work. It's all arbitrary. It's a game we made up. Why 5 and not 10? Because 10's too many. Artificial excitement? What does that mean? IT'S ALL ARTIFICIAL. Baseball is not an organic crop that sprouted up from the Earth. It is a creation of man, and is thus artificial.

Well it's arbitrary by baseball standards. For over 120 years, since the dawn of the professional game, you had to be a champion in the regular season to potentially be crowned the champion. Then some numnuts realized they didn't have large enough mansions and made it so you only have to be good, not great for 6 months and then be over .500 in one month and...bam! "World Champions".

No sport should have it where the second best team, after a freaking marathon season, could potentially miss the playoffs just because they were unlucky enough to be in the same division as the best team. Baseball needs to have fewer playoff spots than other sports to preserve the regular season, but four playoff teams out of 30 would be just silly. The 1993 Giants missed the playoffs when winning 103 games. That's a great story. The 85 win Twins riding homefield advantage to a game 7 championship win after winning the playoff spot from the Island of the Misfit Toys? Not so great.

Tough luck if you were second best, this is (or was) a big boy's league, whoever wins wins. The Giants missing with 103 wins is a great story because it just shows the enormous battle there used to be in the regular season, intense to the end, unlike now where they'd both be comfortably in a playoff spot. And yeah you'll have team like the 87 Twins, which is why I'd rather they abandon divisions altogether, but they at least did win something, their division, even if it was less impressive due to it being an off-year within it. Heck, there could be years where one League is way off compared to another, but there should still be a World Series to decide a pennant winner.
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It did benefit the Giants knowing that they were locked into the 2nd slot before their final series, so Bumgarner could go, and the Pirates burned Cole in their last game to try to catch the Cards. Then again, Volquez was having a really good 2nd half, so it's not like they were at that big of a disadvantage.

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Believe me if it were up to me it would be one team from each league, no interleague play, however I do like to think in the tiniest fraction of what is possible nowadays. At least make it so you have to win SOMETHING, so at least the season is still a chase for the prize instead of a chase for one game on the road or one game at home or a division title that really doesn't mean much.

Your ideal of one team from each league is consistent with your desires. And you realistically acknowledge that it's not going to happen so you begrudgingly accept divisions. But I'd still contend that once you have divisions, you need to establish some mechanism to eliminate a 1987 scenario (Yes, even on rare occasions when Minnesota wins, it's tainted).

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It did benefit the Giants knowing that they were locked into the 2nd slot before their final series, so Bumgarner could go, and the Pirates burned Cole in their last game to try to catch the Cards. Then again, Volquez was having a really good 2nd half, so it's not like they were at that big of a disadvantage.

OK. I did not watch that closely. So, yeah, the Giants and Pirates finished with the same record. But because the Pirates had the, um, "misfortune" of being behind a lesser division leader, they had to scramble a bit more, whereas the Giants could set themselves up. This is a less egregious example than if, say, the Pirates were 5 games better than the Giants, but it does really illustrate the above point that a one-game playoff is not "baseball." Starting pitching is so key and coincidental circumstances really helped the Giants. Hopefully MLB does not take negative feedback form this and set up a best-of-three for the wild card, giving the division champs a long break (which many feel would be a disadvantage). The solution, in my opinion, is to go back to the one-WC format. But a pro sports league reducing it's playoff teams? Ha.

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I'm gonna start breaking this one out here because I hear this over and over and over again in baseball, college football, hell even NCAA Tournament playoff-alignment threads

divisionplayoffarguments_zps30f401e8.png

(which I've also explained here)

Now, I don't see the overkill in having 2 teams play for a 4th spot in each league, but I can see where it can become a problem down the line. Still though, compared to 16/30 in the NHL and NBA, the MLB is fine. It's not really rewarding mediocrity by adding two non-division winners (one of which doesn't even get to be in the actual playoff part of it) compared to the amount you'd see by going to some sort of NFL format or, godforbid, the NHL/NBA format*.

*the NHL/NBA format works with the random nature of the two sports. It would be absolutely awful to use for baseball.

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I agree with the original premise. If you couldn't be champion in your own division in 162 games, why do you get the chance to be the World Champion in about 20 games? As a Giants fan, I was totally fine with 103 wins and no playoffs. They didn't deserve it, they weren't even the best in their own division. I too, would like 2 leagues, champions only in the World Series. But, if you have to have divisions, the playoffs should be a round robin system, best record is the World Champion, sort of a mini-season at the end. If, in this year's championship series, San Francisco beats Los Angeles, Baltimore beats Kansas City, and then San Francisco beats Baltimore, how can you say San Francisco is the best? They didn't play Kansas City, there's no proof San Francisco is better unless they play them.

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