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A sixteen-team playoff is silly, but that doesn't stop this guy from writing about it

Sep 30, 2010, 3:29 PM EDT

I love America and everything, and free speech is a fabulous concept, but the problem with it is that, because of its pesky guarantees, the police can’t come and drag people who write stuff like this into a dank cell and let them spend their final years someplace where they can’t bother anyone:

In their offseason meetings, the people who run the game should shorten
the regular season and expand the playoffs — and not just by adding two
extra wild-card teams, the current popular notion.

Instead of a 162-game regular season followed by three rounds of
playoffs for eight teams, baseball should have a 148-game regular season
with four rounds of playoffs for 16 teams . . . Making the tournament 16 teams would bring baseball equal to the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League.

I could refute the column point-by-point, but let me merely say this: anything designed to mimic the NBA and NHL playoffs is, by definition, a bad idea.  Let me also add that any playoff system that would have had the 2010 New York Mets making the postseason is, by definition, awful.

Serious question: do basketball and hockey writers sit around and think up ways to “fix” things that aren’t wrong with their sports all the time like baseball writers do?  And if they do, are they as half baked as the kind we see in baseball?

Either way, I should start doing this. I try to post 20 things a day here, and it’s not always easy.  If I were to just make up dumb stuff like this all the time, I’d be done before lunch and I’d have all of my afternoons free.

  1. okobojicat - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Hockey writers do think up ways to fix their sport. But then again, they have reasons to.
    There is an argument for 2 more teams in each league. I think its a bad argument, I think its wrong. But I can see someone make that argument.
    But any more than that is stupid.
    Also, I am fan of shortening the regular season back to 154 to have the WS end by Oct 15. I hate that WS game 1, 2, 3, and 4 are already scheduled. I hope everyone in the first 2 rounds sweeps so that we have to sit here for 2 weeks going “uhhh, where’s the baseball?”

  2. geoknows - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I can’t believe there is somebody who seriously LIKES the basketball and hockey playoff formats. Basketball particularly has rendered the entire notion of a regular season meaningless. It feels like they play all year to eliminate what, three teams? Then they seemingly play all summer to get to a champion, take two weeks off, then start the whole process over again. Stupid.

  3. Professor Longnose - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I think they should forget the regular season and just have a huge round-robin tournament. That way, all games would be meaningful, and we wouldn’t have to watch the Pirates and the Royals after about June.

  4. ThatGuy - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    I personally love how Hockey does it, to me the Stanley Cup playoffs are the most exciting in sports. Then again, hockey is my favorite sport with baseball coming in second so I may be biased. Best of 7 series means the best team will generally win, but its possible a hot goalie can lead his team a long way(see Canadians, Montreal), playoff beards, sudden death OT, best trophy in sports. Im not sure whats not to love.

  5. Joe - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    This would be better, because instead of playing 82 games to eliminate less than half the teams from the playoffs, you’d be playing 148 games to accomplish that.
    And hey, it’s always more fun when you’re cheering a race for 8th place instead of a race for first.

  6. Bill@TDS - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Even if you do like the NBA or NHL playoff format, my perception of those sports (not actually being a fan of either) is that in a short series or even a single game, taking health and whatnot out of the equation, the best team *usually* wins. A bad team makes the playoffs, but then almost invariably gets destroyed by the Celtics or Lakers in the first round, and even if they pull out a miracle in that round, they’re done for in the second.
    In baseball, there are way too many bad bounces and lucky breaks to have anywhere near that kind of certainty about it. If you go to that kind of format in MLB, it won’t be five years before you see an 85- or 88-loss team (or, their equivalent in a 148-game season: a 70-78-team, say) win the World Series. Why would we want that?

  7. mattjg - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    My biggest problem with baseball is that the regular season is meaningful and ends with exciting pennant races. I’d much prefer a system that caused me not to care about the regular season and only tune in once the playoffs start since I know all the good teams (and a few not-so-good teams) will be there. Also, let’s get rid of outdoor stadiums, reasonable ticket prices (compared to other sports) and the AL-NL format. In fact, I’d be a lot happier if we could just find everything enjoyable about baseball, throw it out the window, and replace it with inferior solutions from the NBA or NHL. I, for one, can’t wait to see someone take on A-Rod’s expiring contract in five years when he’s a shell of himself just so that the team can rid itself of enough money to compete five years down the road.

  8. lar @ wezen-ball - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    The Stanley Cup playoffs is the best thing the NHL has going for it. The NBA playoffs, on the other hand, are terrible (for someone like me – I guess they work okay for the way Stern wants things to go).
    And, yes, they do try to fix things in the NBA, but it’s never the “hey, you know, we have way too many teams in the playoffs – let’s reduce them.” No, they like that. They try to fix it by coming up with new and dumb ways to re-seed the teams or change how top seeds get home field advantage. I don’t even know what the current set-up is – I think a division winner is guaranteed a top-4 seed and HFA even if they’re the #4 seed… some people even say they should get rid of divisions (or conferences!) altogether, and just rank the teams by their overall record.
    Basically, I’m saying that there are morons everywhere. At least no one in baseball is advocating the dissolution of the American and National Leagues themselves…

  9. Chicago Doug - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Not that I like the NBA either but their is something to be said for the way their league is alligned. Bud proposed it several years back when he suggested a “radical” realingnment of the leagues. Basically, the teams would be split into two leagues of equal sizes – with one league representing the teams in the eastern half of the country with the other half containing the leagues western teams.
    While it will never happen, I think it would actually work quite well – especially the playoffs. The top four teams in each league would make it. With regionalized playoffs you wouldn’t have people screaming about start times or cross country travel. The World Series would also have a tendency to draw in more fans from across the country as well (I mean how many baseball fans in California were glued to their tv’s for last year’s Phillies/Yankees match-up?)
    Ok – I am going to take my “Bud’ hat off now and get back to killing time at my job for the next hour and half.
    PS: Neither league would have a DH. Ever.

  10. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    Actually, NBA HFA goes by record, not seeding. Something baseball could certainly take from it. Of course, that’s about the only thing baseball should take from the NBA playoffs, but it’s a start.

  11. lar @ wezen-ball - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    See, I can’t even remember. Does that mean the only advantage you get as the division winner is that you’re guaranteed a top-4 seed?

  12. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Yeah. Which is all baseball should guarantee, for that matter. Hell, I’d make it so that winning one’s division only automatically qualifies one for the playoffs if one wins a certain amount of games – otherwise, your spot turns into a second wild card, and you need to beat out everybody else in the league. Could you imagine if Boston and Texas were duking it out for the last spot in the AL right now?

  13. ThatGuy - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Im not sure if that was sarcasim or not, but I was not suggesting MLB should adopt NHL style like the original author was. Simply stating I like the NHLs tourny. MLBs is a good format, I have no qualms with it.

  14. Philip P - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Correct, division champs get the top seeds and then it is based on records thereafter.

  15. ThatGuy - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Thats likely the case for Basketball(honestly have no idea, cant say i’ve watched more than 5 basektball games in my entire life), in hockey it is not uncommen for a goalie to get hot and carry their team far into the playoffs. Happens to atleast one team every year, and you get the whole Cinderalla team aspect of it.

  16. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Ugh, and I try so hard to avoid the impersonal you, but it’s even worse when I relapse mid-sentence. *facepalm*

  17. Bill@TDS - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    But has there ever been a truly bad hockey team that won the Stanley Cup? I’m talking, like, comfortably sub-.500 for the regular season? I’m confident that that would be a pretty common occurrence in baseball if this happened.

  18. geoknows - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    I do have to admit that hockey playoffs don’t approach basketball for aggravation level. Not sure why, other than to say that I like hockey quite a bit, but gave up on basketball many years ago.

  19. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Would it really be so bad to have the Mets in the playoffs? The comedy potential for Mets fans trying to determine if this was good or bad (good because they’re in the playoffs, bad because Minaya and Manual might keep their jobs) would be off the charts.

  20. John_Michael - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Other ways to improve baseball:
    – Fielders are allowed to interfere with runners. So a runner rounding first can get laid out by a clothes lining second baseman.
    – If you get hit with a throw, you’re out. Like in kickball.
    – If a game is tied after regulation, it goes to a home run derby.
    – If your homerun lands in specified zones beyond the outfield wall, the runs are doubled.
    – After scoring, a runner can round home plate and go onwards to first base again.
    – After a batter gets hit by the pitch, he can ‘pitch to himself’ by throwing the ball up and swinging at it, like a coach hitting infield practice. The ball is live the moment it leaves his hand.

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