Wednesday, September 22, 2010

9 comments It Appears The Mike Celizic Tag Is No Longer In Use

As many of you may have heard, Mike Celizic, or "Hat Guy" as he is more commonly referred to by many, passed away today from cancer. I have gone after him a few times in the past on this blog for his New York and Boston-centric takes on everything. He tended to view every event in baseball through the eyes of how it affected the Red Sox and the Yankees and also tended to write journalism I disagree with him upon. Obviously, I am sad to hear that he has passed away and I never harbored him any ill will. The purpose of this site isn't to ensure those who write bad journalism pass away, but to mock them endlessly for writing bad journalism and hoping they live a long healthy life to eventually see the error of their ways.

Not to get overly sentimental, but it is odd to have a occasional target of mine like Celizic pass away. I never wrote about him too much, but when you read what someone has written on a weekly basis like I tried to do with his work (and I read it not to find things I liked) then you feel like you know the person just a little bit. I have never met him, but I knew enough about him from his writing to have an idea of what he was like. He was writing a cancer journal for and his last entry is a good read. It's painfully more honest and well-written (for obvious reasons) than many of his columns I covered here were and I enjoyed reading it. He had to make some tough decisions towards the end and it is clear he was at peace with his decision. I just hope they bury him with his hat. It would only be right.

-(Now for a sudden change in tone)

(No more sentimentality ahead)

(Last chance to change the tone in your mind with which you read what I am writing)

I was watching the Braves-Phillies game (more like it was a massacre if considered in the context of the entire series) on Monday evening and Joe Simpson, who analyzes games for SportSouth, made the following comment:

(Disclaimer: I like Joe Simpson on the whole and not just because he broadcasts Braves games)

He said, and I am paraphrasing since I couldn't find the comment anywhere on the Interwebs...

"Privately, and I think Phillies players and management will deny telling you this...but the Phillies do not want to come to Atlanta in October with the NL East still undecided. I think they want to wrap it up as soon as possible to avoid having to play the Braves in Atlanta with the division title still up for grabs...that's the sense I have gotten."

You think? You mean the Phillies will tell you privately, not publicly of course, that they would like to win the NL East division as soon as possible so they can rest players and set their postseason rotation? Does this differ from the feelings any team has at the end of the year? Every team wants to wrap up their division quickly so they can set their postseason rotation and not have pressure during the last days of the season.

I think, and I am sure the Phillies would tell me this privately as well, the Phillies players would like to clinch the NL East in mid-July or perhaps before the season actually starts. I think the Phillies' feelings about winning the division early has more to do with clinching the division as soon as possible than it has to do with their fear of playing the Braves in Atlanta. No team wants to play anywhere on the road the last week of the season having to win games to clinch their division.

-We all know Murray Chass hates technology, so naturally it makes sense that he wouldn't like the Wild Card system either. I personally don't hate the Wild Card because I feel like only letting four teams in the playoffs before 1994 was the wrong thing to do. It tended to leave out competitive teams that may have deserved an opportunity to appear in the playoffs. I like the Wild Card, and in fact, I think the fact that four teams have won the World Series as the Wild Card shows it has a place in baseball and was the correct move to add two more teams to the playoffs (actually four teams since three divisions instead of two divisions were implemented at the same time as the Wild Card was introduced).

I don't think it dilutes anything to have a team that didn't get first place in their division make the playoffs. The Rays absolutely deserve to make the playoffs this year since they have proven they are the third-best team in the American League this year. Why should they not make the playoffs simply because they are cursed to be in the same division as the Yankees? So I like the Wild Card and Murray Chass doesn't.

When the subject is the wild card, two thoughts come to mind: how Bud Selig gets/takes credit for its creation and how the president was the only owner who objected to it.

I don't recall Barack Obama objecting to the Wild Card in the mid-90's.

George Bush, of course, wasn’t the president yet; otherwise he wouldn’t have been the owner of the Texas Rangers and in position to object to the creation of the wild card.

George Bush, of course, isn't the President anymore. The correct term is ex-President.

He didn’t necessarily object to the wild card itself, but he opposed the change to three divisions in each league, which was tantamount to opposing the wild card.

Eh...kind of. George Bush never objected to the actual Wild Card so it is hard to say he was the only owner who objected to the Wild Card. He objected to the entire re-alignment that put his team in the AL West. So he seems to have opposed the Wild Card only through the proposed re-alignment of the divisions.

If someone kidnaps my child and takes him/her to Montana, I am not objecting to my child going to Montana, I am objecting to him/her being kidnapped. If my favorite restaurant announces it is only going to serve turkey burgers with mustard covered leeches as a side and I object to this because I don't like mustard covered leeches, it doesn't mean I am objecting to turkey burgers as well.

I'm not sure if we can deduce that George Bush objected to the Wild Card simply because it was a part of the divisional realignment plan, which was what he really didn't like.

Under the proposed three-division format, the Rangers would have been placed in the American League West and would have been two time zones from the division’s other teams. Bush believed that difference would have had too severe an economic impact on the Rangers’ television and radio advertising revenue.

Nowhere in there does it seem that George Bush didn't like the Wild Card system. He did not like how the divisions were re-aligned and he sort of had a point. Texas is sort of central in the United States, not on the West Coast. Of course one team had to go to the AL West and I guess the Rangers were the obvious choice.

I have never been a fan of the wild card because I have always believed a team should have to win something, a division or league title, to compete in the post-season for the ultimate championship.

How about out of the 15 years the Wild Card has been in place, four times a Wild Card team has won the World Series? Isn't that proof enough on its face these Wild Card teams deserve to compete for the ultimate championship? The Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays (the projected Wild Card winners in each league) going to be pushovers in the playoffs? Well, the Braves may be, but the Rays won't.

The Boston Red Sox have an 83-68 record in the AL East and will not make the playoffs because two other teams in their division have the division and Wild Card lead. The Texas Rangers have an 83-67 record, which is pretty much the same as the Red Sox. The Rangers would miss the playoffs if they played in the AL East, but because they will "win something" Murray thinks they deserve to make the playoffs and the 89 win Rays should sit at home. This doesn't make sense.

In the National League, the Braves are tied for the second-best record. Should they miss the playoffs because they happen to be in the same division as the Phillies when they would either be tied for the division lead or winning the division if they played in either the NL Central or NL West? To say a team has to "win something," that means getting rid of the Wild Card is to base a team's "winning something" on the division they were placed in and ignoring the claim a team with a better record may have to be in the playoffs. I don't see how the possibility that each year the three best teams in each league may not all be in separate divisions can be ignored.

Furthermore, the existence of the wild card undermines what otherwise would be a scintillating division race. A perfect example exists right now.

It must be opposite day. Because a perfect example of this statement being bullshit exists right now. There are 3 teams fighting for 1-2 spots in the playoffs in the NL West. Three teams and there are 1-2 spots for those teams in the playoffs and the three teams are separated by 2.5 games. Last year the Tigers and the Twins had a one-game playoff to see which team deserved to win the AL Central because they had identical records when the season ended. The winner of this one-game playoff went home and the loser went to the playoffs. So fuck the idea there is a lack of drama. It still exists.

The Yankees and the Rays have the best records in the majors. Both are in the same division and should be involved in a terrific race for the A.L. East title. But the race is meaningless. Both teams are virtually certain to make the playoffs, one as division champion, the other as the wild card.

Great cherry-picked example. How about the two examples I just gave where three teams are competing for potentially one spot in the playoffs? How about the NL East where the Braves are slowly losing the division and possibly a Wild Card spot at the same time? How about the AL East where the Yankees beat the Rays head-to-head, which gave them a large lead and decided which team got home field advantage (at the time) throughout the playoffs.

In 1993 the San Francisco Giants won 103 games but didn’t gain a playoff spot because the Atlanta Braves, then in the National League West, won 104 games and the N. L. West title. The Giants took their 103 wins and went home.

Naturally, because the Giants didn't "win something" they had to go home and miss the playoffs. That Giants team had the second-best record in MLB that six games. But they didn't "win something" so they went home and that makes sense to Murray. Without the Wild Card, the second-best team in all of baseball missed the playoffs in 2003. Shit happens, but it doesn't have to happen. It's not like MLB expanded the playoffs to include almost half the teams in the majors when the Wild Card was introduced. Only eight teams still make the playoffs, which is less than any of the other major sports.

The strength and value of the wild card, its proponents argue, is that it keeps more teams in post-season contention later into the season, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Really, why would we want baseball to be more exciting? It's better to have teams out of contention late in the season to curb fan interest and all.

I also enjoy how Murray basically says he can't argue with the advantages of the Wild Card...but naturally he still doesn't like the Wild Card.

There are years like this, where the wild card is decided early.

Murray does realize there is this thing called "the National League," right? The Wild Card in the National League is not even close to being decided. So if you believe there is only one league, and that is the American League, then the Wild Card is decided, but otherwise the Wild Card has not been decided early in both the American and National League.

the N.L. wild card race is wide open. Recent developments have altered that landscape as well as the division competition.

And now Murray contradicts himself when he said the Wild Card was decided early. Murray probably thinks it is a terrible thing to have a Wild Card race. What's this "competition" thing that is going on? Isn't that bad for baseball to have more teams be in contention for the majority of the year? That's not how things were done back in his day!

Until Tuesday night, the Braves had been in first place in the N.L. East since May 31, basically 60 percent of the season that had been played. The Phillies had been the wild-card leaders. Suddenly they switched places.

The Giants were 6 ½ games behind the Padres in the N.L. West Aug. 25, but 10 games later – 10 games that the Padres lost – they were only a game behind San Diego.

Murray is doing a really shitty job of convincing me the Wild Card needs to go away forever. If anything, this is proof the Wild Card works as a way to let competitive and deserving teams into the playoffs.

Not to be overlooked are the Colorado Rockies, the comeback kings of recent seasons. They are threatening to do it again. The Rockies were 11 games out as recently as Aug. 22, cut their deficit to 7 games by the start of this month and were 4 ½ out when the Padres ended their losing streak at 10.

How boring to have three teams making a run at the division and the Wild Card like this. Get rid of the Wild Card permanently!

The wild cards have attracted enough positive attention to prompt some people to suggest that baseball should add more wild cards to the playoffs.

I don't think more Wild Cards should be added. The MLB playoffs are fine like they currently are.

Fortunately, though, the commissioner has said that won’t happen.

It's ever so fortunate, because we wouldn't want to risk the current disaster that the Wild Card system represents. How terrible that a team with a better record than a division winner would actually have a chance to play that division winner head-to-head in the playoffs to determine which team is actually better.


Matt said...

i guess Murray doesn't like the NBA or NHL. all sorts of teams make the playoffs in those leagues that don't "win" anything.

what a dopey argument. you almost get the idea that some writers just run out of ideas and write about the first thing that comes to mind - then pick a side, any side.

ben, you've got the right idea. just write about bad articles that get written because of what i just said. brilliant!

go phils!

rich said...

Furthermore, the existence of the wild card undermines what otherwise would be a scintillating division race.

How do you punish a team (Atlanta, Tampa) that plays in a really good division, while rewarding other teams (Texas, Cincinnati) that play in shit divisions?

Remember a few years back when the Padres were barely .500 and won their division? Can you justify keeping another team that's much more qualified out?

Furthermore, it doesn't kill the races. For example: If Atlanta comes back to win the NL East, they likely get home-field throughout the playoffs. If they don't, they're the road team every series. Furthermore, the WC team plays the harder of the two teams.

There are tangible benefits to winning your division.

But the race is meaningless. Both teams are virtually certain to make the playoffs, one as division champion, the other as the wild card.

And one will have to go to Minnesota and play; while the other gets to bring in a slumping Texas team to their home park. Seems like a big friggin' difference.

keeps more teams in post-season contention later into the season, and it’s hard to argue with that.

So his argument about killing playoff races is void?

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, that's a completely different story to Murray. Probably because he didn't think of that comparison at all.

The sad part is that Murray didn't have to write this. It's on his personal web site (blog), so no one forced him to write this and make a deadline.

Go Braves! (all the way to 2nd in the Wild Card race)

Rich, it is all apart of the "old" way of thinking in a two dimensional fashion where winning the division means something more than the fact you beat the other teams in their division. It's good to beat teams in your division, but there are going to be teams left out if only division winners make it...just like you said. Thinking about this hurts Murray's brain so he just wants to assume winning the division means you are better than any other team in any other division.

It doesn't take anything away from the division races, you are right. I don't know how he can't see that.

He completely voids his entire argument during the last half of this column. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I wish these old school ass hats would realize 2 things about baseball

1, The Wild Card is not going away
2, The DH is not going away

Then we could move on and not have to read about this crap

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, but then what would I write about?

I 100% agree with you though. I don't like the DH, but I don't think baseball should get rid of it at this point either. I am not egotistical enough to think simply because I don't enjoy it as much as others do, it should be gotten rid of.

The wild card is nothing but a good thing in my mind.

Anonymous said...

Even if getting rid of it was a good thing. The union simply would not allow it

Anonymous said...

I like it probably because I grew up with it following an AL team (Boston)

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I don't like the DH, but I also think it has a place in MLB. It's not that big of a hot-button issue for me to actually try and make a big deal out of its existence. The DH doesn't ruin baseball.

As far as the Wild Card goes, having four teams in the playoffs was too few. Every team doesn't deserve a shot to be in the playoffs, but to cut it off at 4 total teams was leaving out qualified teams. I think the WC fixes that.

Anonymous said...

The author of this blog should reconsider his position on Mike Celizic. Nobody wants to hear about how you targeted Mike's articles before he died. If you never met Mike you should not post negative comments.

Mike was a very special talented writer and a heck of a friend. He was more fun than anybody you will ever come across and a kind, caring gentleman.
Mike was as cool as they come. Trust me.