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    Monday, September 30, 2013

    Why I Hate the Wild Card Game

    I feel like I've railed against the new one-and-done playoff round before, but this year is a perfect example of why I dislike it.

    I know people love to say that the Wild Card is the "easy" way in to the playoffs, which is why it's okay for the top two Wild Card teams to fight for the spot. But look at the NL. This year, the 94-win Pirates and Francisco Liriano get one game to "prove" that they're better than Johnny Cueto and the 90-win Reds. How does that make any sense? Why does this one game mean so much more than the previous 162? Or the 19 other games the Reds faced the Pirates this year (of which the Pirates won 11)? One false slip (like, say, this) and that 4-win difference means nothing.

    People always come back to that with "well, they should have won their division." That's still awful reasoning to justify an unfair system. Why do the Pirates' 94 wins (in a division with three playoff teams, one of whom had the best record in the NL, no less) count for less than the Dodgers' 92 (and in a division where the second best team went 81-81*)? Why is it the Pirates who have to justify their place in October? Why not have a one-game playoff between the Reds and Dodgers? Is it just because the Dodgers had the foresight to move west fifty-odd years ago?

    *Although, strangely enough, the Dodgers actually carried a losing record against their NL West opponents.

    This happened last year, too, when the 88-win Tigers (sixth-best record in the AL) snuck in through the weak AL Central while the 90+ win Orioles and Rangers had a one-game playoff (to be fair, since they had the same record, that would have happened in the old system too). But I think this one is an even better example of the ridiculousness of it, given that 1) one Wild Card team surpassed a division-winner; 2) the Wild Card teams play in the same division, so there's no "unbalanced schedule" argument; and 3) the race for top Wild Card wasn't particularly close. The only argument against actually having the two worst playoff teams play each other seems to be the divisions, a completely arbitrary assignment.

    I probably shouldn't be as worked up about this. The World Series stopped being about crowning the best team in baseball long ago. But maybe the fact that so many people pretend it is is what annoys me. Or maybe it's just the awful logical reasonings that get thrown around to justify it, as if this is a better, more exciting, or more fair system than what existed before. It very clearly is not.

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