Sunday, June 10, 2007

The unrecognized madness of baseball

I talked, in a previous blog entry, about how the culture of winning was really a little too heavy in basketball in a blog entry and that it's taking away from the sport.

Now this is a lot worse in baseball, of course. It's so much more cut-throat competitive because only 8 times make the playoffs and the way it works with only wildcard team allowed, my hometeam of the Baltimore Orioles has virtually no chance of making the playoffs. If it amasses the third best record in the league, the odds are that the teams ahead of it will be Boston and New York, the two highest high rollers in the league. The problem with the 8-team format in baseball is that teams that are by any definition good and have a legitimate chance to make a run for the title, won't get the chance to do so. I think just with the wild card rules, there's usually only room for one extra team like a power conference.

How great was it last year for everyone in the the Central division of the Eastern conference in NBA Basketball for example when all 5 teams made the playoffs? That means that you get a great level of competition going. Over the last couple years, Baltimore has acquired a relatively decent compilation of all-stars just like New York and Boston with Rafael Palmiero, Javy Rios, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada and Sammy Sosa. Toronto has also been enjoying some success in terms of player acquisition. But they are probably encouraged to label themselves failures and go back to the drawing board, reshuffling their roster, trading players away and the like.

And my god, New York Yankees fans live in such a do-or-die state of life. With Roger Clemens being signed to the Yankees, the question people are asking is "Is he worth the money?" The truth is you can't really answer that question. They might think that they can measure money based on the change in wins, but whether you win or lose in baseball is so much more random than any fan really cares to admit. If a person who specialized in batting can only perform his designated skill 1/3 successfully and still be considered an ace, then that should tell you something right there. It is wayyy too random of a sport to attribute winning the world series entirely to skill. A very good portion has to do with a spin of the roulette wheel and whomever makes the decisions in baseball and whomever voices their opinion as a fan needs to take that into account.


Adam said...

Interesting article, but I don't fully agree with everything. First, the expansion to three teams in each league has doubled the number of teams that make it to the play-offs. Personally, I like it that so few teams make the playoffs...when they finally do make it, it's that much more exciting. I can't believe that .500 teams often make the playoffs in basketball...the meaning of post-season play is reduced highly as a result.

Second, winning in baseball is not random. How else could you explain the amazing play of the Mets early, but dropping like a rock recently. Or, better yet, the NY Yankees - they were horrible, but then fired off 9-straight wins. If it was random, the odds of that occurring would be 1 in 512.

Still, I agree there are many problems with baseball...For one, having 2 or 3 great pitchers (as opposed to 5 good ones) leads to a strong play-off run every time as a result of the numerous off-days.

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