October 14, 2010

If Joe Posnanski ruled the world ...

"You kind of took it for granted around the Yankees that there was always going to be baseball in October." 
- Whitey Ford

That's got to apply to their fans, the Yankees faithful, too. It has to. I'm 28 years old. The Toronto Blue Jays have played in the postseason five times in my lifetime, winning, of course, two World Series. And let's be honest: I was far too young in 1985 and 1989 to truly give a damn. Were I a Yankees fan, those numbers would be 15 and five, respectively. And let's not kid ourselves: 14 straight years of October baseball in the Bronx -- 1995 through 2008 -- would have made me the most insufferable Yankees fan of them all.

I bring all this up because of Joe Posnanski's latest blog post. If it were up to him, he'd do away with the wild card and go back to baseball's old format: "two divisions in each league, a championship series, then a World Series." Posnanski would also not "be opposed to getting rid of the playoffs altogether and just taking the best team from each league and going right to the World Series."

No playoffs. "Getting rid of the playoffs altogether." Imagine such a baseball world. Fear it. God help the Blue Jays if Posnanski's ever running the show.

In all seriousness, the Posnanski piece is a thoughtful one. He's right: this year's race to the top of the American League East wasn't a race at all. It was a joke. And in the end, as is usually the case, the Minnesota Twins were the punchline. Anyway, Posnanski understands that if the playoffs were shortened, the economics of the game would have to be changed. He also understands that it's not going to happen; that there's no looking back on the wild card now, yo. And that's a good thing, because I'm all for the idea to add another wild card into the mix, and have two wild card teams face off in a best of three -- not a best of one; baseball doesn't roll that way --to determine who moves on to play in the division series'. Hell, I hope the change is in effect for next season.

I used to think the baseball season was too long. A hundred and 62 games? Are you kidding me? Now I realize it's the perfect length. Every game matters. Ask the San Diego Padres. Adding another wild card team makes one through 162 matter even more. Is this interest self-serving, so the Blue Jays can one day qualify for the playoffs? Absolutely. Toronto needs all the help it can get to scale the mountain, and end their almost two-decades long drought. Other than "Toronto Maple Leafs" and "Toronto Blue Jays," the blog label I've used the most at Sports And The City is "I miss the god damn playoffs." Were I in charge, I think everyone might make the playoffs. One versus 30, two versus 29, and so on. Playoffs for everybody!

While we're talking about October baseball, how about Saturday night: Lincecum against Halladay. The Freak versus The Doctor. Quite possibly the apex of a pitching matchup in the playoffs. I can't wait. And I'm grateful, Baseball Gods. Thank you. 

The photograph above -- me in about 40 years -- comes to you from Getty Images, via Yahoo!


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

I would suspect that Mr. Posnanski would like the playoffs more if there weren't so many off days and the games started and finished at a reasonable hour.

I'm for an extra wildcard. I think it would be grand. But instead of the current proposal, I would have the two wildcards play the two division winners with the second and third best records and give the best record team a first round bye. That would force the situation like the Rays and Yankees to fight for that best record.

I must be different than most NYY fans in that I always fear the worst and am suprised by the best. It's easier when the good doesn't happen and a real joy when it does.

I think Halladay will win easily over Lincecum. Don't think it will be close.

SP said...

I'm with you eyeb. It's ridiculous. I left a comment on his blog last night.

sporkless said...

I agree with the best-of-3 wildcard showdown, with the following caveats:

1. No 1-game tiebreakers (e.g., if two or more teams tie for the SECOND wild card spot). Use head-to-head or other cruel criteria to automatically determine.
2. Schedule cruelly to disadvantage the wildcards; e.g.:
Sunday: Last day of regular season.
Monday: Wildcard playoff Game 1, at home of lower seeded team.
Tuesday: Game 2 AND Game 3 if necessary (doubleheader) at home of higher seeded team.
This will really tax the pitching staffs. As it should.

Roberto said...

The only issue I have with an extra wild card team - or really, any extra teams that don't amount to 8 playoff teams in total per league - is that the division winners will sit idle for several days. Seems to me that this may kill the momentum for the leaders, and perhaps kill some interest for baseball fans, too.

I've been saying this to anyone who will listen for some time now: Stay with 8 playoff teams for all of MLB, but go back to two divisions per league. Division winners make the playoffs, and there will be 2 wild card teams per league (the two teams with the best records that didn't win a division).

Throw in a balanced schedule, and there will be less chance of a team getting screwed by being in a tough division, or winning a weak division and making the playoffs ahead of a better team in a stronger division.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

That makes sense, Roberto. Your plan is definitely better.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

@ William: I like the idea, about the top team in each league earning a bye. Reward them. And I think, yes, you are different from most Yankees fans. How do you fear for the worst when your team, more often than not, wins? And, re: Lincecum and Doc, I don't think it's that clear-cut. Halladay's great, but so is Timmy. Should be a goddamn doozy. Can't wait.

@ SP: Solidarity, brother.

@ sporkless: Doubleheader in the playoffs? That's CRAZY. I like it. Would be super intense.

@ Roberto: Please email me your resume. I'm going to make sure it's with MLB when Bud Selig steps down. Brilliant.