Monday, September 24, 2012
Chipper Jones not a fan of wild-card game
By David Schoenfield
From David O'Brien's story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the weekend, Chipper Jones talks about the wild-card game:
"I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you. But Major Lague Baseball wants a bunch of teams in the playoffs. There’s nothing like cut-throat baseball for the fans. And people love that 163rd regular-season game. They’ve loved it in the past. I’m sure that’s probably what’s promoted a second wild-card team. I wish they would’ve done it a year earlier so we would have had a chance last year. But it is what it is."
"You say to yourself, we could possibly have the second- or third-best record in the National League when the season’s over and we have to play a one-game playoff just to get in. That doesn’t seem fair because anything can happen. Now if you were to say the two wild-card teams will play a best two-out-of-three, I’d be OK with that. We play three-game series all the time, and we concentrate on winning those series all the time. I think it’s more fair from a standpoint that anything can happen in one game -- a blown call by an umpire, a bad day at the office ... at least in a two-of-three-game series you have some sort of leeway."
I happen to agree with Jones. We're likely to see some scenarios this year that will possibly validate Jones' ideas and point out some flaws in this system. The Braves are currently 6 games up on the Cardinals in the wild-card race. That could easily be 7 or 8 by the end of the regular season. But all the Cards have to do is win one game and the Braves will go home.
Over in the American League, the AL Central winner is likely to end up with the seventh-best record in the league, meaning two teams with better records will go home and two teams with better records will play in a one-game do-or-die effort. To make matters even less fair, the Tigers or White Sox will get to align their starting rotation, barring a one-game tiebreaker between the two clubs. Right now, both clubs have their aces, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale, lined up to pitch the first game of the Division Series. Meanwhile, due to the scheduling quirk in this year's postseason, the AL Central winner will get to open at home.
So imagine you're the Orioles and you edge out the Yankees to win the AL East. Your possible award: A trip to Detroit to face Verlander in Game 1 of the Division Series. Lose that you and you have to win three of four games to move on.
It's just a reminder that baseball's World Series trophy isn't so much about crowning the best team in baseball, but about crowning the team that survives the random nature of October baseball.
Anyway, what do you think of Chipper's comments? Which playoff system would you prefer?