Friday, March 28, 2008


In the midst of March Madness, this thought came upon me...

"Do we even need playoffs at all?"

I imagine most people, certainly in this country, would answer with an emphatic 'Yes!' Or, even - 'What the hell are you on, bitch!?!?'

But - leaving the NCAAs aside for now (and yes, I realize I'm one of the first to call for playoffs in college football)... let's talk about pro sports. Specifically, Baseball - and how it relates to others (Basketball and Hockey (and American Soccer) on one side, and World Soccer on the other).

Baseball has a glorious history of post-season action. There were World Series of sorts even before the AL/NL classic that we know now, which has been played (with a couple interruptions) since the early 1900s.

The World Series - it really doesn't get much better than that.

...assuming it is competitive at all..... which it often isn't (how many of the last five have been sweeps?)...

The AL and NL championship series added a good deal of interest as well, allowing
for the divisions to form and the divisional races (expansion forcing things, etc.). There were some truly spectacular divisional races back in the day. Who can forget San Francisco losing out to Atlanta even though they got 103 wins, back in '93?

The new divisional setup and the Wild Card has added a new, different, level of interest. It keeps more teams in the hunt for longer - adds a new level of playoffs, and keeps many more fans interested in things for a much longer period. It also has produced some of the most memorable post-seasons in baseball history (or at least a good few of late have been fantastic, and one could credit the new format a little, right?).

This has to be a good thing, correct?

The thing that worries me is that baseball will see this 'Good Thing' and with all such things they will only think of how they can make it better. I've heard talk at various points of ways to tweak the system to make it better (maybe even to include more teams). I cannot stress enough how damaging this could be. We are already at a point where the field is getting dangerously diluted (Padres of 2005, anyone?). Any more and we are indeed looking at a situation where we get closer to basketball and hockey where the regular season is getting increasingly meaningless. If you let in half the teams to the Post-season, where everyone has a chance - why bother playing much at all for the games before that? In baseball this would be particularly disastrous with as long and difficult as the season already is. If they made it any less meaningful...

The main reason I went on this mental rant this morning is because I was thinking of the difference between MLS and most soccer (football) leagues around the world. Most leagues (EPL, la Liga, Serie A, etc.) simply have every team play every other team twice, home and away. You get three points for a win, one for a tie. The team with the most points at the end of the season, wins the league. Simple, direct, often unbelievably dramatic and always (or almost so) actually gives the title to THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE.

This is the greatest weakness with ANY playoff system. Sure it is exciting and sure it is fun to watch, and egalitarian... but it so often does not actually give the title to the best team, merely the hottest team at the end of the season. MLS fans know this well. DC United has been the best team in the league the last couple years, but has been knocked out of the playoffs that they have (because, of course - it is an American league, and we Americans can't grasp the concept of a league that doesn't end with a playoff).

This isn't just sour grapes from a DC United fan. The Dynamo won the title (both years) fair and square, under the rules... it just seems odd and pointless to me. Why do we have to destroy a good thing when we have it? The world model works fine, wonderfully (and has for over a hundred years). I won't get into the relegation thing (which is another story, but could make all sports here SO much more interesting, if we had it) - but the fascination with playoffs does bother me.

Does anyone really believe that the Giants were the best team in the NFL last year?

Does anyone believe that the Yankees were the best team in the AL in 2001 (over the 116-win Mariners)?

...and yet you still can't convince me that the Marlins didn't deserve the 2003 title (or the 1997 one for that matter). They WERE the best team at the time. That's what counts, under the rules.

I just need to chew this for a while. I definitely think MLS needs to bag the playoffs, though. If you want the respect of the world soccer community, then don't act like you know better than they do. You won't get the average American interested in soccer just because you have a crappy playoff, anyway. Don't insult our intelligence. (Try having a decent product, first. Gimmicks never work, in the long run.)

I also think MLB needs to make SURE they do NOT dilute their playoff pool any further. There is some real beauty to the regular season as it is. We need that grind and every game meaning something... we can't lose that. And, personally - I'd love to see a team win 100 games and miss the playoffs again. People remember that.

People also remember teams getting IN to the playoffs with 82 wins. For a different reason.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quick picks

We need to come up with some rules for this - but this year, we'll be doing a competition between Mike and I for ruler of the world. The contest will be making baseball predictions...

I just want to get my basic divisional picks in.

AL -
East - Boston
Central - Detroit
West - Seattle
WC - Angels

NL -
East - Mets
Central - Brewers
West - DBacks
WC - Phillies

Also -


NL - Prince Fielder
AL - Miguel Cabrera

Detroit over Brewers in the WS. Why not?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baseball is Back

And so is HB.

I swear. Not that ANYONE cares... but I need a place to vent, occasionally - and so does Mike, even if he doesn't know it.

With baseball returning, we will have stuff to write about, and with us both in the same fantasy league - we can make this one of those annoying places where people talk about their teams and just pisses everyone else off.

That would be fun.

Or I could go more fully into my new-found Roma addiction, and De Rossi man-crush. That will definitely need an entry or two. I feel the need to spill. In fact - I think I need to link to a photo right now...

Forza Roma!!!

Anyway... I plan on doing some stuff around here again. Maybe Mike'll join me We should do some baseball predictions again. Those ALWAYS work out well...

Welcome back world. HB is on life-support - but still alive!