American League - Final Weekend '05

Are you ready for some Baseball? I am!

All kinds of possibilities this weekend. The Yanks lead the Sawx by one game in the east. The Sawx and Indians are tied at 93-66. One of these teams is going to be sitting at home during the playoffs. I’m predicting it’ll be the Indians just because of their lack of experience in these situations. However, the Sawx really need a sweep at home to win the division outright. Not going to be easy against the Evil Empire!

Meanwhile the White Sox are visiting Cleveland. The Pale Hose are looking for home-field advantage during the playoffs and the Indians are trying to get in.

The action starts 7pm eastern tonight!

I think the experience issue is overplayed–how did the Marlins and Angels and Diamonbacks win everything, since they weren’t all grizzled playoff veterans?–but the one advantage Cleveland has is that the White Sox have clinched. They’ll be more concerned with resting veterans and getting their pitching staff in order than in winning. They have a 2-game lead for homefield.

I think it’s highly likely we end up with a tie in the East, with the Indians taking 2/3 from the White Sox. This would mean the 1-game East playoff will determine the last playoff team, as the Indians will get in as the wild card. But if the Indians only win 1 game, it’s a three-way tie, which means 1-game playoff in the East, with a 1-game wildcard playoff against either the Red Sox or Yankees.

Crazy, crazy weekend. Thank god I get NESN.

I agree with Steve. The White Sox will play to win in Cleveland, but only up to a point. Starters won’t go past their designated pitch counts and they will make sure the relievers get rested. All-in-all I’d say the Tribe has the edge for the wild card. But it’s only 3 baseball games, and the beauty of the game is that anything can happen.

I used to dump all over the idea of a wild card team in the playoffs, but I’d have to say I was dead wrong. It really has added immensely to late season baseball.

I still hate the idea of the wild-card, but have resigned myself to it. With this many teams and three divisions there’s no other choice, really.

I’ll add a “me-too” and give the WC to Cleveland, leaving NY and Boston playing for all the marbles - the way it is supposed to be, with no consolation prize. Like many, I have an irrational hate of the Yankees though they’ve never done anything to me or to a team I love.

Troy

No it hasn’t. That’s media BS.

With no wild card, the slide by Chicago/Run by Cleveland would have been that much more intense (since hey, Cleveland can always take the Wild Card if they didn’t catch Chicago). This last Chicago/Cleveland series would have more meaning because Cleveland would need a sweep to force a playoff for the AL Central instead of 3 games that only 1 team cares about (see Mark Buherle’s response to the question “What does the series with Cleveland mean?”)

The Boston/New York series wouldn’t have the possible safety net of “Loser gets wild card” (which is what happened last year, blunting the end of season race). It’d be “Sox must take 2 of 3 to force a playoff or go home” and not “Sox can win 2 of 3 to force a playoff, where they might need to win to play Anaheim instead of Chicago, or they might only need to win 1 if Cleveland tanks”

In the NL, MAYBE. As of 9/20, all it added was Houston. Philly was 5 behind Atlanta starting a 3 game series. A sweep would have made it 2 games, but Philly was only 1 game back of Houston for the Wild Card, so hey, no big deal if they only take 2 of 3 because they don’t need to catch Atlanta. The entire season, the NL Wild Card had been whoever finishes 2nd in the NL East or Houston. Until mid-september, the NL east teams in he wild card hunt were all in striking distance of Atlanta anyway.

Last year, the Wild Card had little meaning. In the AL, it was Boston (who I think had a chance to catch New York but it didn’t matter) with a big WC lead going into the last week. Anaheim and Oakland played each other in the final series for the West or nothing. In the NL, the West was LA or San Fran, but hey, even if San Fran didn’t catch LA, they could still get the wild card if Houston stumbled. San Fran ended up 1 game behind Houston and 2 behind LA. So the Wild Card was a big letdown.

It’s a fraud. The hype around it is BS that more often than not blunts divisional races which should be crucial but end up “It’d be nice to win but…”. On top of that, it screws teams in tough divisions because the schedule is unbalanced. Cleveland had to play Chicago and Minnesota something like 35-40 times. Philly had to play the brutal NL East (every team might finish over .500) while Houston gets to play a ton of games against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. If you insist on a Wild Card, you really need to balance the schedule.

If everybody clinched in early Sept. it would be boring as hell… I like the wild card.

It may be BS, but it’s not just media BS. I’m capable of thinking for myself, thank you. So it’s my BS too. :)

Seriously, without a wild card, there’s only one meaningful series left in the American League this weekend. The games in Cleveland may be meaningless to the White Sox, but they’re all-important to the Tribe. They’d be meaningless period without the wild card. (OK, I know you can’t have three divisions without a wild card, but we do have the possiblity of two one-game playoffs on Monday and Tuesday, which would be impossible without it).

Furthermore, the incredible finish of last season would have been impossible without the Wild Card, which I’d say is all the justification it needs.

Just heard on PTI that Ozzie is resting 6, count ‘em’ 6 regulars tonight. That’s the way to play it straight …

I don’t think it’s BS, and certainly not media BS.

Some years, the existence of the wild card helps provide a better pennant chase, while other years it might provide a safety net that takes some of the air out of it. But on average, the wild card keeps more teams in the hunt for a longer period every year. Without the wild card, fans of a lot of teams would have written off the season months ago.

Overall, I think it’s better for baseball to have more teams in the chase – especially when you consider that a few wild card teams have won the series in recent years.

Ok, Red Sox beat the Yanks 5-3 and are tied for first place. Indians and White Sox tied 1-1 in the 11th.

Jason, without the wild card Cleveland would have forced a 1 game playoff with Chicago if they swept this weekend. Chicago would have played all their starters at least tonight (instead of resting 66% of them).

That’s not meaningful?

But on average, the wild card keeps more teams in the hunt for a longer period every year. Without the wild card, fans of a lot of teams would have written off the season months ago.

First, “months ago” is silly hyperbole. Months ago, the Detroit Tigers were still in the hunt. The only teams that write off the season after the All Star break are teams that truly suck, and no amount of Wild Card will save them.

This is the media BS I’m talking about. It’s something the media keeps saying, but it’s just not true. The only team that really would have written off the season early was Houston. The Phillies were in NL East hunt until a week ago. The Indians were charging down on the White Sox (getting as close a 1.5 games back, from 15 at one point), and the Yankees and Sox were headed for another historic collision.

In 2004 the Wild Card did little to “include more teams” as it was decided earlier than some division races in the AL. In the NL, the Wild Card included Houston at the expense of blunting the NL West race.

In 2003 you again had an unexciting AL Wild Card race (Boston more or less having the spot before the last week started). In the NL, you had Chicago and Houston in a race all the way to the final weekend, only the loser was more than likely to win the Wild Card, so the Central race didn’t mean much.

In 2002, it was Oakland and Anaheim in a race late with the loser getting no penalty because the loser won the Wild Card by 6 games. In the NL it as Arizona and San Fran in the same situation (loser still makes the playoffs).

In 2001, there were no races at all in the AL. You could argue that the Wild Card rewarded Oakland for winning more games than either the Central or East division winners, despite finishing 14 games out of first (Seattle’s 116 wins). OF course, if you start worrying about that, you should be wondering about San Diego going to the playoffs over whoever loses the Wild Card this year. In the NL, guess what? The NL Central ended tied, which would have meant a 1 game playoff (the Wild Card is supposed to add excitement, right?), but instead both teams make the playoffs because of the Wild Card.

In 2000, Oakland didn’t need to play the 162nd game, because even if they’d lost to create a tie for the AL West, they would still have won the division (because they won the season series with Seattle) because Seattle had won the Wild Card. One more divisional race thrown out because of the Wild Card (which Seattle won by a game over Cleveland, who was in striking distance of the Central). In the NL, what do we have? Just another close divisional race (Atlanta wins the East by 1 game over the Mets) that meant nothing because the Mets were assured of the Wild Card anyway.

I’ll grant that in 1998 the Wild Card had actual meaning, because Chicago and San Fran went right down to the wire for the last playoff spot in a season where the only thing resembling a pennant chase was Texas and Anaheim (who finished 3 back). So it kept 2 more teams in the hunt. Hooray.

If you want to argue that the Wild Card keeps more teams in the hunt longer, it’s doing an awful job of it the last 6-7 seasons. It’s only the constant “Man, that wild card is a great addition!” media pablum that supports the idea. When it DOES include more teams, it often does that at the expense of a divisional race. How is it good to take focus and excitement away from better teams and put it on worse ones?

If you want to argue “Deserving teams wouldn’t make the playoffs without the Wild Card!”, fine. Personally, I feel that’s an advantage baseball has over the NBA and the NHL. Making the playoffs in MLB is extremely difficult, 162 games over 6 months with only 4 of 28 teams making it. In the other sports with 16 team playoffs, half the league makes it. You simply have to be a bit better than average to make the playoffs! If you want this position, it better be coupled with “balanced schedules”, because otherwise you can’t really say one team is more deserving than another because one probably played a bunch of easier games.

Indians lost 3-2 in 13 innings. They are now 1 game back of Yanks or Sawx. Stay tuned!

Danimal, all of your arguments are looking at what kind of division races we’d have if you dropped the wild card, but that implies you’d just have three division winners from each league – which doesn’t work, unless there’s a new playoff system you’d like to spring upon us.

When MLB changed the playoff format in the early 90’s, they went from two divisions in each league to three AND added a wild card to make it an even 4 playoff teams. You can’t just remove the wild card and say the races would be better, because that system is pure fantasy – you’d have to go back and rejigger the leagues into 2 divisions, and I promise you you’d see a lot more teams dead in the water in July.

Also, while I’d agree that it can make the divisional races less interesting, the only reason anyone in Boston or New York is caring about Cleveland or Chicago is thanks to the wild card. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

Sunday:

It comes down to this: Red Sox win and they’re in. If they lose and the Indians win, it’s one game playoff.

Plus: Go Redskins!

Sluggo, you could just as easily have decided that the best record in each league gets a 1st round bye and the other 2 play a best of 5 series. No need to re-jigger anything.

I really like almost everything about the current playoff system…the only thing I’d change would be to make the opening series a 7-game series. This would mean trimming the regular season by a few games, but the regular season runs for a month longer than it should anyway, so that’d be ok with me.

Oh, and the team with the better record should get home field advantage in the World Series, as is done in all other sports. Home field advantages that alternate with the season, and home field advantages determined by an exhibition game are pretty dumb.

They should schedule more double headers during the season to shorten the season.

Oh, and the team with the better record should get home field advantage in the World Series, as is done in all other sports. Home field advantages that alternate with the season, and home field advantages determined by an exhibition game are pretty dumb.

God, yes. This all-star game “it counts!” business is just stupid.

oh, tell me you’re kidding. After all your posturing and explaining and complete ignorance of the fact that you’d have an odd number of teams making the playoffs, you add this rider that you’d give one team in each league a full week off?

The fact is, the new system is far more exciting than the old system. It’s not hyperbole. Under the old system, 2/3 of the league would have been dead by the end of July, unlike the fun pennant races we had this year. If you wanted to argue that some third fantasy system was a better option, maybe you should have explained that about 15 posts ago instead of pulling it out of your ass now.

Edit: It just occurs to me that, under your new proposed system, instead of the White Sox playing the Red Sox this week, you’d rather kick one more team out of the playoffs and give the White Sox the week off? That’s an improvement? Come on.

The new system is far more exciting, though it is needed partially because the split into three divisions makes under-championship playoffs a little hard with 3 teams.

The current system works fine and makes the whole process a lot better… can you think that Cleveland, Red Sox, Astros and Phillies fans weren’t on the edge of their seats this weekend? Or how the playoff races unfolded in the last month? Cmon, it was friggin great.

Frankly, most of the folks that complain about the system also complain that interleague games are useless and that some of the matchups aren’t rivalries and are therefore worthless. Or they want to abolish the DH. Come on.

— Alan