Friday, October 9, 2009

First to Third: May the Best Team Win?

It turns out Matt Holliday made a colossal mistake that just cost the Cardinals the division series. Yes, I realize that Holliday dropping a line drive that... well... was RIGHT TO HIM!! only put the Cards down 2-0, but in a best of five series, that about does it for the Cards.

Baseball's postseason is like a lottery. Teams enter with just about the same chance to win and one small blunder or one small mistake makes the difference between advancing to the next round - or not. In a five game series, all a team needs is 2.5 good starting pitching performances to advance to the next round. That's why I'd like to see baseball make the division series seven games.

In a seven game series maybe the best team doesn't always win, but mistakes like Holliday's don't cost a team their postseason life. Baseball plays 162 regular season games (163 if you're in Detroit or Minnesota, apparently) for a reason: to create a chance for the best team to win. A five game series does not follow the same logic. A five game series is chaos for a few days and then one team emerges to play for a chance for the World Series. Earlier this year, the Nationals beat the Yankees two out of three games. If this were the division series, the Yankees would have their backs against the wall. I don't think anyone would dispute that the Yankees in 2009 were much better than the Nationals, but say the Nats won the next game. Is that really the best way to decide who moves on after 162 games? I don't think so.

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