Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The oddities of baseball and the one-game playoff

The Pittsburgh Pirates just swept three games from the Reds over the weekend in Cincinnati to close out the regular season.  Before that series even began, it'd already been determined that the Pirates and Reds would be playing each other in the National League Wild Card game.  Pittsburgh's only reward for knocking off Cincy three straight to end the season (and finishing with the better record of the two) is that they get to host the single game playoff in their ballpark.  But it's all for naught if they don't win that one game tonight.  While it was a funny scheduling coincidence that led to this, it's somewhat ridiculous that the two clubs played each other in three consecutive largely meaningless contests, only to follow that up with one all-or-nothing winner-take-all game.

Admittedly this format is extremely entertaining, and as a Red Sox fan I am greatly enjoying sitting back and waiting for the winner of first Tampa vs Texas (who finished tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot) and now Tampa vs Cleveland.  However, for the teams that lose, it's heatbreakingly (I realize I just made up that word) unfair to have all the hard work of a 162 game schedule dashed aside by just one lone playoff defeat.  In relation to the length of the season, a single playoff game in baseball is the proportional equivalent of an NFL playoff game lasting a total of only 5 minutes and 56 seconds.

Here's what I wrote on this subject two and a half years ago before it actually came to be.

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