American League - Final Weekend '05

Yeah, but it ain’t gonna happen. The owners want gate receipts for two games, not one. I’m afraid the old-fashioned double header has gone the way of the umpire’s balloon chest protector.

<Sigh>Another typical ending to a sports season for a Cleveland fan. We all saw it coming when Grady Sizemore (who is going to be a fabulous player) dropped that fly ball in KC. A little more cement in Cleveland’s well-deserved reputation as the most jinxed city in sports. I’ll take some comfort in the fact that the Tribe will probably be the favorite to win the Central division next year. Then the question will be what new way they will find to break our hearts.

The Tribe was a year early. Everyone knew they were building something teriffic there. Next year they’ll probably be without Millwood, though.

Yes, he’ll probably be their major FA loss. The other question is whether Wickman will return. Of course, every team without the Yankees’ unlimited budget has to make some adjustments. The comfort comes from the fact that that the Tribe has so many good, young players especially up the middle.

Eh? Double-header tickets are always separate, you do have to pay for both games. It’s not like you have to charge a two-for-one game deal if you have a regularly scheduled doubleheader, there’s no rule preventing it.

— Alan

Heh, either I’m showing my old age (most likely) or you are revealing yourself as a youngin’. There was a time in baseball when the Sunday afternoon double header was as normal as a hot dog and a beer. There was only one admission charge for both games. There was only about an hour between games and they didn’t empty the park in between. The day-night double header only occurred in response to a rain out. Now, of course, it’s the only kind you see.

That was like two hundred years ago.

Heh.

— Alan

Which is more ignorant, looking at the current seasons/schedules and ignoring the wild card, or saying “Well, without the wild card you’d have a bunch more teams dead early because you’d only have two divisions”?

With one, you can look at the results, and not worry about what would have been needed for the playoffs because all you’re talking about is the divisional races (the only way to guarantee a playoff spot, so with or without a wild card it’s important). With the other, you’re magically inventing a whole new schedule (there’d was/would be no unbalanced divisional schedule with a two division format) and declaring the results. Sure.

2/3 of the teams would have been dead by the end of July? Now who’s being ignorant? Do you remember Boston’s collapse leading to the Bucky Dent homer in the playoff? Philly’s multiple collapses? The last year of the old format (1993), both NL divisions were decided by 3 games or less. Half the teams were within 10 games at the end of the season. I don’t have daily standings at hand that far back, but it’s reasonable to assume that many of those teams were closer with 2 months left. There’s no reasonable way to declare a team 10-12 back with 2 months to play “dead”. If we use Cleveland as the outer bound of “dead” (since they got to within 1.5 games of Chicago with 7 games left), then 22 of 30 teams weren’t dead at the trade deadling. Not quite 2/3.

I didn’t mention some third fantasy system (which is somehow ludicrous, but conjuring up a set of results that supports your theory isn’t) because the playoff system doesn’t matter. My point was that the wild card “adds excitement” for far fewer teams than people like to believe, and just as often blunts excitement for the divisional races (which should be more important).

Honestly, I don’t think giving the team with the best record time off is a bad thing. Right now, there’s almost not benefit to having the best record in your division (or overall). Your benefit is exactly the same as the team with next best record. You start at home and get 1 extra home game. Why is it a good idea for the NFL to give the best teams a week off, but an insane idea for baseball? On the days with more than 2 games currently, the first game is at 1pm (tomorrow). You know what the TV ratings are for that game? If they run 2 or 3 games at night, you’ve just split your audience. If you were running one series in each league, you’d have a bigger audience for each game.

I know it’ll never happen because owners love money too much. They’ll add an extra wild card to each league and have a mini-playoff before they cut back (but hey, you’d still have teams idle for a while!)

Aside:
One of the “new” adjustments talking heads have been tossing around is adding a second wild card, and having the 2 play to determine who goes on. The # of games depends on the head and how they’d squeeze it in (start earlier, cut back on regular season, end later…) but one of the first reasons they give is to provide greater reward for having a good regular season record (i.e. being able to rest and set your rotation).

Anyway. You don’t think a 1 game playoff between Boston and New York to decide who goes on and who goes home would have been better than the Yankees celebrating the AL East clinch on Saturday (which even the announcers and Boston players didn’t understand, because of the muddled rules) then trotting Jaret Wright out on Sunday? You don’t think Cleveland going into the final series needing to sweep to get in would have been more exciting than “Well, if Cleveland wins and Boston wins, then on Saturday…” which amounts to “It would be good if Cleveland won, but they can get in if they don’t”?

The wild card doesn’t make things more exciting. Any excitement generated is usually stolen thunder from divisional races. I can’t see how getting excited about 4th place instead of 1st is a good thing. The media keeps shouting from the all-star break on (and even earlier at times) that all these teams are still in the wild card hunt, conveniently ignoring that most of those teams are still in the divisional hunt and the bottom tier teams are only nominally in the wild card hunt. Look at the Tigers this year. They were 5 games out of the Wild Card at the break. Anyone with a brain knows that’s a bogus argument because the Tigers just aren’t that good. On top of that, everyone ignores that not only does this team on the fringe have to play better than they have to date, but they need a large number of teams to play WORSE. Detroit would have had to outplay 6 or 7 teams to get to the wild card. It’s wishcasting to say that a team in that situation is in the hunt. As an example, Tiger Woods was 2 behind the leader and finished when the final round of the PGA was suspended. There were 4 players ahead of him yet to finish on Monday. If they all faltered, he could be in a playoff on Monday for the title. He WENT HOME. He knew (and said as much) that the odds of all four stumbling were tiny.

The idea that it keeps fans excited (and thus coming to the park and watching on TV) is bogus. Fan attendance pretty reliably lags team performance by a year, so “being in the hunt” in July doesn’t matter because by the start of next year it’ll be clear if the team was in it or not. The White Sox didn’t draw substantially more fans as the season went on, despite being surprisingly good. They’ll see a bump next year (probably). The Tigers didn’t see an attendance bump because they were “in the hunt” in July, and after their finish they likely won’t see one next year.

Trotting out the handful of exceptions versus a hundred years worth of teams that were dead when 10-12 out with 2 months to play isn’t going to get you very far.

A bit faulty thinking that the wild card is somehow 4th place.

The idea that it keeps fans excited (and thus coming to the park and watching on TV) is bogus. Fan attendance pretty reliably lags team performance by a year, so “being in the hunt” in July doesn’t matter because by the start of next year it’ll be clear if the team was in it or not. The White Sox didn’t draw substantially more fans as the season went on, despite being surprisingly good. They’ll see a bump next year (probably). The Tigers didn’t see an attendance bump because they were “in the hunt” in July, and after their finish they likely won’t see one next year.

More faulty thinking. In fact you just contractdicted yourself… you say a team in the hunt will see a bump in the performance next year, then provided an example of Detroit where you just said it won’t happen. You can’t say you’re just referring to the Wild Card hunt, because Chicago wasn’t in the WC hunt - they were in the friggin lead.

Texas was all over the hunt last year and had very good attendance all the way to the last week when they were still in. The final three-game series and sweep against Oakland was positively electric.

— Alan

Dannimal, whatever point you’re trying to make, it’s lost on me.

  • On July 1, Minnesota and Cleveland were 10 games out, but in a virtual tie for the wild card.
  • On August 1, both teams had fallen to 15 games back, but still in the thick of the wild card race.
  • With a month to go, Cle and Min were still 7.5 and 11.5 games back, but 1 and 5 games back of the wild card.

If you can’t see how the wild card made the summer more exciting for fans of these teams … we can’t help you. Mathematically alive or not, no one gets all pumped up for a team 10 games back. The wild card also obviously made Houston’s summer, and kept the Phillies in the race right up to the final day. It’s mind-boggling to think how anyone could construe this as media hype.

For the record, I think the Yankees and Red Sox should have played for the division today, a rule MLB should change, wild card or not. As it stands, I’m going to the Angels-Yankees game tomorrow and enjoy the start of one of the best stretches in sports. :)