Are the playoffs fair?

Leave a comment

I’ve been going on for years about how the playoffs are a total crap shoot and how they rarely if ever guarantee that the best team makes it to the World Series, let alone wins it. Of course, I’m also a Braves fan, so it’s fair for you to ask whether or not my complaints are valid ones or if they’re merely post-hoc justifications for 1993. And 1996. And 1997-2003 while we’re at it.

But there are a lot of folks without my biases and pain who feel the same way. Like Mariano Rivera, Mike Scioscia, Brian Cashman, Scott Boras, Joe Girardi, CC Sabathia and a bunch of other people in the game who think that the system could use some tweaking:

Whether it’s fear or just a perception that the playoffs are unfair, in recent years players, managers and team executives have been growing more frustrated with the three-round playoff format, which made its debut in 1995.

“The Yankees have 26 world championships,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says. “If we had played all of those years with divisions and wild cards, we would not have 26 world championships. This is much more perilous, a lot more combustible.”  . . . I’m telling you, it’s not fair,” says Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hinter, whose team again faces the Boston Red Sox, a year after finishing with baseball’s best record and losing to them in the opening round. “You look at the Kansas City Royals, and they can still beat you twice in three games. The same thing can happen in the playoffs. It might be good for Vegas, but it’s bad for baseball. Who wants to see a fluke win the World Series?”

There are all kinds of suggestions in the article regarding how to fix things. Mike Scioscia thinks that the wild card team should play Game 1 at home and the next four on the road. Girardi thinks it should be 2-1-2, with the wild card team the middle game at home.  Scott Boras — the last guy you’d ever think would worry about competitive balance — thinks that the wild card team should play the entire first round on the road.  Others think that there should be two wild card teams with a play in series, thereby weakening them for the division series, while others still think the first round should be the best of seven.

After last night’s drama, I’d be on board for a regular play-in game or series, but it’s not like we can push out the playoffs any further. I mean really, the World Series is already ending in November this year. Maybe the best way to accommodate that would be to schedule more doubleheaders during the season and end the regular season a week earlier. That would certainly reward team depth the way everyone seems to want to, even if it put a dent in TV ratings.

In the end though, we have to acknowledge that a lot of this really is whining. Sure, it’s maybe not fair on some abstract level that a 100 win team could be punted in three games by an 83 win team, but these are the playoffs and that’s just how it goes. We can tweak here and there, but in the end, there is no practical way to make any short series approximate the conditions of 162 game season.  The division winners and we 1990s Braves apologists are just going to have to deal with that.

UPDATE:  More potential unfairness.

The Mariners are hosting a “Celebrating Women in Baseball” night this summer

3 Comments

The Mariners have announced that on August 15, the first event in their “Beyond the Baselines” series will be held at Safeco Field. This one is called “Celebrating Women in Baseball.” Those who purchase tickets will receive a Mariners Women in Baseball t-shirt and a voucher for a drink. The event will include a pregame panel discussion in which the members of the panel discuss women’s contributions to the game and much more.

The panel includes moderator Meg Rowley of Baseball Prospectus, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle, Orioles director of analytics and major league contracts Sarah Gelles, Mariners scout Amanda Hopkins, and Mariners manager of baseball information Kelly Munro. The panel discussion will be streamed on Facebook Live, starting at 5:10 PM PT.

This is how you hold an event designed for women. There is no patronizing “101” class that treats all women as if they have no knowledge of the game. Women directly from the industry are invited to speak, not men speaking about “what if”s. Hopefully, the event goes swimmingly and it becomes something all the other teams in baseball adopt until women holding positions in baseball becomes so normal we don’t even notice it.

Terry Francona will not manage tonight’s game against the Rangers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As we wrote this morning, Indians manager Terry Francona left last night’s game against the Rangers after falling ill. Specifically, he was said to be experiencing a rapid heart rate and dizziness, just as he did back on June 13 when he left an Indians-Dodgers game.

According to a release from the team, Francona was evaluated by doctors at Cleveland Clinic last night. The tests, thankfully, have ruled out any major health concerns, but Francona will not manage tonight’s game against the Rangers and was advised to stay at home rather than come to the ballpark. He will continue to be monitored.

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him in the past, so caution is certainly in order.

Bench coach Brad Mills will manage the team tonight.