Monday, October 5, 2015

Excellence, schmexcellence

Look, I know how this is gonna sound. It's gonna sound like whining.

It's gonna sound like a guy sitting here in his Roberto Clemente jersey harvesting sour grapes, because his baseball team got burned in the wild-card one-and-done last year and likely will again this week. It's gonna sound like a lot of boo-hooing whose only possible response from the heartless multitudes is "Ah, dummy up. Whyncha win your division if you didn't want to wind up in the one-and-done?"

To which I will respond: Hey, we tried. We won 98 games, for cryin' out loud. What else do you want?

We (and by "we," I mean, of course, my luckless Pittsburgh Pirates) won 98 games, and the Chicago Cubs won 97, and the only reason both are in the one-and-done is because the (expletive deleted) Cardinals turned into the best team in baseball and won 100. Three teams, one division, one patently ridiculous set of circumstances.

Look. I know the argument. You should be rewarded for winning your division, and blah-blah-blah. It's nonsense. What if you play .500 baseball and still win your division because everyone else in it is the '62 Mets? For that you should be rewarded?

Sorry, but no. And I'd say that if this were, say, the Twins or the Indians who were in the same position as the Pirates and Cubs.

That's because it is patently absurd that one of the three best teams in baseball is going to be gone after Wednesday night, before the playoffs even fully begin. How does that make October more appealing?  The playoffs are supposed to be the best of the best. Instead, in Seamhead World, it's the best and sure-glad-we-played-in-the-NL-Least.

That's just wrong.

What's right is to reward excellence, not happenstance. Best records in both leagues, regardless of where they finished in their respective divisions, get the byes to the divisional round. Worst records meet in the one-and-done. You say that's not fair, because you won your division?

Tough. To paraphrase the heartless multitudes: "Ah, dummy up. You played in a crap division. Whyncha win more games?"

Some numbers: The two other NL divisional winners, the Mets and Dodgers, finished seven and five games behind the Cubs, respectively. Behind the No. 2 wild-card. In the American League, the AL West champion Rangers finished 10 games behind the Pirates. Yet they all get a pass into the divisional round?

Wrong. Just flat wrong.


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