Playoffs: Totes Making Sense
The New Playoff Format, Unexplained
So, let me get this straight. The Braves, in the tough NL East, won six more games than the Cardinals (who got to play a generous portion of their schedule against the Astros and the Cubs) and they have to play them in a one game playoff to see if they are better? Weird.
Let’s have a W-L cutoff for this game. If the top Wild Card seed is five games better than the second, we should not have this game.
The play in game is decided by terrible Braves defense and one of the most thoughtlessly applied judgement calls in history and then the Cardinals get homefield advantage for the first two games against their next opponent? Are you sure? Are you sure the first games of this series shouldn’t be played in Washington since they were 10 games better (in a stronger division) than STL during the regular season, and the Cardinals are a Wild Card?
Are you sure that Detroit should get home field advantage for the first two games of their series against Oakland, who were six games better in the regular season against much tougher competition? Detroit won fewer games than two teams that didn’t even make the playoffs!
2-2-1 format for the first round. The impact of travel is nullified in the Post Season since both teams are on the same schedule.
NL Wild Card Game
The fact that Sam Holbrook’s now infamous call, which directly affected a major rally, is technically within the definition of the Infield Fly rule, does not make it excusable. The issue is that what was already an extremely liberal invocation of the rule (we’re talking men in drag in the ladies bathroom liberal), was made too late. The ball had completed 90% of it’s flight when he finally stopped scratching his crotch to point at what one can only assume Sam Holbrook realizes is the sky. Good luck flying Delta in the future Sam. Good luck wintering in Savannah. Hell, good luck figuring out which side of the newspaper is the top, so you can read through your 15 minutes of fame. You earned it, pal.
The fact is, Sam Holbrook is only the tip of the Shit Berg. 162 games of Chipper Jones’ last season, 162 games of the Braves playing steady and defensively sound baseball, keeping relatively healthy, was wasted. Several errors, one miserable call, and the lucky, lucky Cardinals spoiled 5 months of accurate tests in a game played under protest. It’s compelling to consider that throwing garbage onto the field was actually the most appropriate reaction under the circumstance.
The most unsettling part of this whole circus was that even if Freddy Gonzalez’s protest had not been against a call of the “judgement” variety, Bud Selig’s office would not have upheld it, no matter how compelling the evidence. And the reason for this is so trivial: scheduling. MLB would have tossed this out, not in the interest of baseball, the correct result of this particular game, and not in the interest of history, but in the interest of keeping things neat. All that lies between the Wild Card Game and the NLDS is one travel day. There simply would have been no convenient time to make up the end of the game. The league office would have issued a statement in support of the umpire’s call, while secretly ignoring the evidence in order to avoid inconvenience.
All critics of the Wild Card Game were well represented on the field in Atlanta on Friday night, but baseball, and it’s best interests were not.