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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Do-or-die games: what do they prove?

Initially the 2015 tournament started with the two mandatory do-or-die games among the wildcard teams.  One loss and you're out after playing 162 regular season games to get there.

Then on to the first series, the quarterfinals, which is best of five.  The three most wins in 2015:

St. Louis CardinalsSTL10062.617--
Pittsburgh PiratesPIT9864.6052.0
Chicago CubsCHC9765.5993.0
Note they are all in the same five team division.  There are, of course, four quarterfinal series.  Ironically, St. Louis has already lost the first of those to be decided: 3-1.  The Cubs beat Pittsburgh in their wildcard game and yesterday dispatched the Cardinals.

All three of the remaining quarterfinal series are tied 2-2.  Today destiny awaits:
Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals

New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers

So what?

Many people find the one game wildcard elimination unfair and would like that changed to best of three, even though the percentages are not much different as to which team might win.  But what is affirmed in even the five game series?  Or in the next two best of seven game series?  Even seven games are only 4.3% of the 162 regular season games.

More fundamentally, what is the point of a tournament after playing 162 games?  Obviously, it's just a way to make more money and has nothing to do with determining which team is best.  That was already decided: the St. Louis Cardinals.  Any attempt after the 162 game regular season is nonsense.

Previously, I've suggested among multiple ideas, that all teams participate in the tournament, that the 162 (or fewer) game regular season be used only for seeding.  Because the Major Baseball League (MBL) has 30 teams, it might be easier to give the top two teams early byes.  Heavy penalties could be imposed on lousy teams in early rounds or games.  Possibly:
- starting a series with a loss ... or two
- give the higher seeded team a run
- give the higher seeded team more, even all, home games.

You get the idea.  However, this does not address that fundamental question: why have a tournament?

And when a team needs all possible games to win a series, what does that prove?

Making it all the more absurd is the basic nature of baseball.  In football the most important player is the quarterback who is likely to have the ball in his hands in the last five minutes of a close game and in at least one third of the plays overall.  In basketball there are only five players on the court and the best will definitely get the most touches and have the ball at the end.  In both sports, those players succeed about half the time.

In baseball the starting pitcher is the most important and he changes, almost never starting more than two games in a series.  Only in the Mets-Dodgers series are both teams starting their best in both games one and five.  The other two series are all over the place.

And the best non-pitcher may get only four plate appearances, which may not be with runners on base.

Ambiguity and ambivalence should be added to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

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