Thursday, July 26, 2012

Unkool Moe Dee

People are constantly talking about how the trade talks are going to be crazy this year, since so many teams have a chance because of the second wild card.

But the #1 wild card and the #2 wild card in the American League are tied.* So as of now, every single team is exactly where they would have been under the old rules. (With the obvious exception that last year you would have had to jump over one more team than you do this year.)

So isn't it true that the fact that a lot of teams are "alive" has nothing to do with the new second wild card?

In fact, under last year's rules, a team a few games back of the wild card would know that if they got it, they'd have a five-game series, whereas now, that team would be the same number of games back, but they know that even if they become the FIRST wild card, they'll still be stuck in a one-game playoff. I'd think that might actually make more teams be sellers figuring it's not worth fighting so hard just to get to an elimination game.

I posted basically this same thing on Joy of Sox a few days ago, and since then I actually heard Wakefield agree with me about how you'd be less likely to want to sell the farm for a chance at one game that determines your season. I think MLB really botched this. Basically you're punishing a team who in the past wasn't punished, while adding the chance for more teams to join them in that same position--a chance teams might not even want to take. I like the whole "make the division race more important" aspect, but that doesn't even come into play in divisions with runaway leaders. Or in divisions where second place won't even get you into the playoffs.

But getting back to the original point: Why don't sportscasters/announcers recognize that the bunching up of the teams is what's responsible for more teams being alive at the trade deadline. (It's similar in the NL, with just 1.5 games separating the top two in the WC race.) Did MLB tell everybody to act like their new idea is working? Or are these guys just falling for something that if they took an extra second to look into, they'd see isn't true? Or do they think we're the dumb ones?

*Just a note on the way the standings are shown at MLB: They list the top two wild cards as being 0 games out. In other words, they don't show you how many games team two is behind team one, since it doesn't matter in terms of who's in and who's out. So you might look at the "games behind" column only and always think the two teams are tied. But the point is, the two in the AL are tied despite being percentage points apart, and the two in the NL are 1.5 apart, as of right now. (MLB has added a note about the top two teams making it and meeting in a 1-game playoff, but they still leave that weirdness with the top two appearing to always be tied. I would just put, for example, "+1.5" or "1.5 A" meaning "ahead" for the #1 wild card. Or something like that.)


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