Why The Playoff System Stinks

October 4, 2008 – 11:13 am

Here we go again with yet another year of playoffs that is making a mockery of the regular season.  I know, none of the Divisional Series are complete yet, but the writing is certainly on the wall with all four of them now sitting at 2-0.  And the best teams in both leagues are on the verge of being eliminated.  One of the great things about baseball is that after playing a 162-game regular season there’s very little doubt about who the best teams are.  Just not much room for “sampling error”.  But then there’s this crazy playoff system that not only allows for second-tier teams to make the playoffs, but with the initial 5-game Divisional Series — gives them an excellent chance to actually knock off a superior team.

Look at the Cubs-Dodgers series.  The Cubs were the best team in the NL, winning five more games than second-best Philadelphia.  The Dodgers had the 8th best record in the NL — eighth!  They would have finished in 5th place if they had been in the Cubs’ division.  But look what has happened.  The Cubs lose game one mainly because Ryan Dempster walked seven batters.  In 33 starts during the regular season he never once had seven walks — heck, he only gave up seven walks in the entire month of September!  Then in game two the Cubs lose as a direct result of making four errors.  They played 161 regular season games and never made that many errors in a game.  So two fluke games and the Cubs are all but assured of being eliminated from the playoffs by a very mediocre team that really should not even be in the playoffs .  That just ain’t right.

And on the AL side, we have the same thing happening — although not as grievous an injustice.  Although  the Angels had the best team over the course of the regular season, at least Boston had the 3rd best record.  But even then, during the regular season the Angels won their series with Boston 8-1!  And yet in spite of all that, they will more than likely not even have the opportunity to play for the League Championship.

Obviously the current playoff system is all about the money — what isn’t these days in American society?  But I do miss the old two-division system where you were pretty much guaranteed that the two teams playing for the League Championship were the two best teams in the league.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.