Wednesday, October 17, 2012

4 comments Terence Moore Toes the MLB Line for the One Game Playoff

Terence Moore writes for and though we see the line at the bottom of each article that says,

"This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."

most reasonable people know this is bullshit. Come on, does anyone really think if Terence Moore wanted to write a scathing review of the job Bud Selig has done as MLB Commissioner that he could? I doubt he would be allowed to be overly-critical of Selig. So it turns out Terence Moore really likes the idea of a one game playoff, which isn't in line at all with his other opinions posted on He is an admitted traditionalist and has written columns against six man rotations, expanded replay, and he doesn't believe there are iron men in baseball anymore. This isn't a sportswriter who loves change, yet he really likes the idea of a one game playoff and I am supposed to believe his opinion isn't affected by his employer? It turns out Terence loves the one game Wild Card so much he wrote two columns about how great it is over a ten day span.

The one game Wild Card games are now over. They had great attendance and got great ratings which is all MLB cares about. The one game Wild Card is the new reality for baseball fans, and while I would much prefer a different system where there are three games played, these are the rules teams know and have to play within. I don't have to like it and would prefer the system to change even though I know it won't. I can't imagine a writer as traditional as Terence Moore likes the one game Wild Card either. It's almost comical to hear him talk like he does like the one game Wild Card playoff.

I'll focus first on the one Terence wrote on September 30, complete with a video of Bud Selig extolling the virtues of the new Wild Card system.

Two Wild Cards in each league instead of one? A single-elimination playoff game between them? The winner advancing to a best-of-five Division Series during an attempt to reach the League Championship Series and World Series?

It all makes sense to me.

"Do I want to keep my job? Yes, I do. So it all makes sense to me."

Actually, it took awhile. Then again, I also believe the designated-hitter rule is the cause for global warming.

Terence Moore hates the designated-hitter rule, which has been in effect for 39 years now, but the one game Wild Card is a breath of fucking fresh air for a stale playoff system to Terence. This doesn't make sense to me.

Adding a designated hitter in one league = stupid idea that changes the game of baseball.

Adding another layer to the playoff system which at best devalues 162 regular season games in one playoff game = why didn't we think of this before?

Yeah, well, despite the extra preparation that could lie ahead for Johnson, I'm guessing he would rather have the luxury of five games to win three than the anxiety of sitting one loss from missing the NLDS as a Wild Card participant.

You mean the part where a team's entire season comes down to a one game "series?"  It's not only the anxiety of it, but the stupidity of playing 162 games and then having a one game playoff to see which team gets to advance to the Division League Series. At that point, a team's accomplishments over one season are judged by one game and whichever team has the better game on that certain day is the team that wins. It sounds good in principle, but I would believe MLB wants a playoff system that reflects the talent and achievements of a team over a 162 game season. I would believe wrong.

Just saying. Plus, I'm just saying I understand the concerns of many players about the new playoff format.

Because Terence really hates this idea, but can't say that because he works for It doesn't make logical sense for a guy who is such a traditionalist to enjoy the new Wild Card format that most traditionalists don't like.

Jones is correct with his analysis. This new playoff format really is "cutthroat baseball," but in the good sense. Baseball now has a bunch of teams playing competitively every moment down the stretch.

I am absolutely not against this. Make it a three game series. Give the team with the better record two home games or a one game lead in the series so that Team A who won 94 games has to win one game to advance while Team B who won 91 games has to win two games to advance. I'm in favor of cutting the season down to 154 games to make this work as well. In fact, keep the season at 162 games and make the first two games a doubleheader at Team A's park and the next game at Team B's park one day later. I don't know, but another idea can't be worse than a one game "series."

(And before you say/think it, I am not upset with the format because the Braves lost their one game Wild Card. If you follow me on Twitter you know I hated the format before they lost to the Cardinals. It's a stupid format in my opinion and should be changed regardless if the Braves won or lost.)

Here's the bottom line, though: September baseball is more relevant now than ever before. With less than a week left in the regular season, half of the 30 teams in the Major Leagues either had clinched a playoff spot, were close to doing so or had a legitimate shot of surging into the postseason without having the earth spin backward.

I think a second Wild Card is a great idea. The format for the second Wild Card sucks. What can be gained from a one game playoff that hasn't been proven all year? It puts too much emphasis on a one game "series."

Remember the recent old days prior to this year? There was one Wild Card in each league, and even though the drama wasn't as prolific as we have now, there still was drama.

You can go all the way back to ... last season.

The problem with the one game playoff is the fans of baseball and MLB want completely different things. MLB wants manufactured drama so people watch the playoff games on television and fans of baseball want to see two teams compete against each other in a fair competition that determines whether one team is better than the other. To have a one game playoff after 162 games for the Wild Card spot is like having the NFL playoffs start with the #3-#6 seeds playing one quarter of a football game and then declare a winner. It isn't representative of that team as a whole or that team's accomplishments nor talent.

Either way, those Wild Card races joined several others from previous seasons to create an extra buzz around September baseball that didn't exist when division winners alone advanced to the postseason.

This isn't to say the playoff format with only division winners and no Wild Cards never produced fairy tales.

Notice how it is clear (at least to me) that Terence Moore doesn't think baseball needs more drama. He is bringing up instances where the build-up to the playoffs were exciting enough as it is. He makes a point to say there was drama last year and there were great finishes in years before that. He's saying the new system is great, even though it doesn't improve upon the previous system very well. That, along with knowing he is an admitted traditionalist, is why I think he is toeing the MLB line here.

Before division play in 1969, the only way to make the playoffs was by winning the AL and NL pennants. Period. And that also had its memorable Septembers. They included everything from the Red Sox holding off challengers down the stretch in 1967, to the Cardinals doing the same in '64, to the events leading to Bobby Thomson's homer for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers in '51.

As you can clearly tell, Terence is clearly behind the new system because the old system wasn't broken in his opinion. His point of view certainly isn't affected by the fact his employer is MLB. Nothing needed changed, but let's change for the sake of change. That doesn't sound like something Terence Moore would support does it?

It's just that what baseball has now with its two Wild Cards in each league and "cutthroat baseball" everywhere is keeping the turnstiles clicking and the television ratings rising. Big time.

And that's what it is all about, isn't it? Turnstiles clicking and television ratings rising. If people are watching there can't be an issue with the product can there be? Does Terence Moore or MLB think less people would watch if there was a different format? I don't know for sure, but I would love to see the format changed.

Then, just to let us all know he really, really does like the Wild Card, Terence Moore wrote another article on October 9 telling us how great it worked out this year. I can almost see Bud Selig scowling over Moore's shoulder as he proofreads what Terence is writing. As long as they keep telling us there isn't an issue then that's what we believe. Much like Joe Torre and MLB rejecting Atlanta's protest less than hour after the game was over (and think about how Joe Torre would feel if this had happened to one of his Yankee teams), if Terence Moore gets told to keep writing the one game playoff is a great maybe someone the public will believe long as they aren't given any other viable options for the format of the second Wild Card "series."

The whining continues over the one-and-done format in baseball's Wild Card system. They should do this. No, they should do that. Then, after they finish making a bunch of changes by the start of next season, they should keep tweaking things -- you know, just because. 

Here's the best idea: Leave it alone.

Why should MLB make changes or tweak the playoff system "just because," right? Even though it seems "just because" is the justification for a second Wild Card in the first place. We wouldn't want a better format to get in the way of drama. It isn't like this is a difficult debate to understand or there are tons of options available, so I'm not sure how complicated the suggestions for tweaks needs to be. Make it a three game series and I am happy. I love the irony of Terence saying the whiners should stop suggesting this or suggesting that and just leave it alone. This would have been great advice he could have given his employer when the idea of a one game playoff was first proposed. This would be assuming he didn't completely toe the company line of course.

Baseball should do nothing about its new Wild Card system, because the way it works for both the American and National Leagues is absolutely perfect. 

(Bud Selig reads this sentence and then gives Terence Moore a big smile and a thumbs-up)

Others disagree, of course,

I disagree because a one game playoff isn't a good format. I would bet even Terence agrees and would say so if he didn't work for, who IN NO WAY forces an opinion on their writers. These are Terence's own words, of that I am sure. 

and nobody has screamed louder about the horrors of single-game elimination in baseball than retiring Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones...

Said Jones, speaking to reporters in Philadelphia nearly two weeks before that NL Wild Card Game, "You say to yourself, we could possibly have the second- or third-best record in the National League when the season's over, and we have to play a one-game playoff just to get in. That doesn't seem fair, because anything can happen." 

So I am guessing that Chipper Jone is one of those whiners Terence is talking about needs to be quiet? This despite the fact Chipper seems like he has a pretty good handle on the issue with a one game Wild Card playoff and ended up looking like somewhat of a sage.

There also were three errors by Braves players, and in case you're wondering, the latter contributed the most to their 6-3 loss. Not the controversial call, and definitely not the Wild Card system. 

This is absolutely true. The Braves finished six games better than the Cardinals and had beaten them 5-1 during the season series. Clearly, one more game was needed to determine who was the better team. So yes, the Braves absolutely lost that game on their own, but even the three errors points to the flaw in the one game Wild Card format. One bad game can ruin a team's 162 game season. The Braves had one bad game, as did the Rangers. Yes, this is the system in place, but the system in place is flawed. I believe three games would better represent a team's talent over the 162 game season.

This isn't the NFL where a team's best players play in every single game. Baseball is a team sport where a team has five starters that determines the strength of a pitching staff. In my opinion, any playoff series that relies on only one starter to win the series isn't reflecting the type of game baseball is. Putting an over-emphasis on one game in a "series" is a flawed playoff concept in baseball.

It already is the rage nearly everywhere else. In fact, folks love sudden death throughout sports, and it's been that way forever. 

Again, sudden death in baseball is a concept that doesn't reflect the sport. Yes, a Game 7 or Game 5 in a playoff series is also a sudden death game, but the fact the series is tied reflects four or six other games that were played in the series. You can't do sudden death in baseball over one game and expect it to be a playoff series or accurately reflect a team's talent.

There is a reason the productivity around corporate America drops every March. It's courtesy of the "madness" created by the college basketball tournament as it makes it way to the Final Four. There also are conference tournaments before that.

All of those tournaments are sudden death. 

Right, these are sudden death games. Basketball can do sudden death because every healthy player who played during the season is represented in that game. The University of Kentucky can use its bench to beat the University of Louisville in a game. There aren't healthy players in a college basketball or football game who contributed during the season who would not appear in a sudden death game. So sudden death can work in basketball or football because it represents the talents of an entire team. In baseball, if only one game is played then the entire team isn't represented in the game. Ryan Dempster doesn't get a chance to start a game or Max Scherzer doesn't get a start in a one game series. Part of a good baseball team's strength is the starting pitching of that team. This starting pitching depth isn't represented in a one game series.

Such also will be the case for the major college football playoffs that are slated to begin in a few years.

The NFL playoffs already feature sudden-death games. 

Again, these are different types of sudden death because every healthy player on a NFL or college football team that led that team to the season's record is represented. This isn't the case in baseball. The one game playoff has a completely different roster from the season and even from the rest of the MLB playoffs. It is a completely different type of game which puts an over-emphasis on one game and not enough emphasis on a team's starting pitching depth.

There were 10 single-elimination baseball games before 2012, but they were staged to decide which team at the end of the regular season would make the playoffs.

The thing about these sudden death game is they occurred when two teams with the exact same record faced off against each other to determine which team won their division. A sudden death game makes sense because there has to be a division winner and the teams have equal records over a 162 game season. There is no need to have a sudden death game for the Wild Card spot because most times the teams won't have equal records (I am assuming this would be true the majority of the time and feel comfortable in doing so). It isn't necessary to have a one game playoff because the teams probably won't have the same record. A three game series would make more sense to me between the two Wild Card teams.

Most of those games were heavily attended, and last week's one-and-done games were no exceptions. 

While the games create excitement, this doesn't mean they are good for the sport in the long term. I do realize I am yelling into a void and MLB doesn't care because they got what they wanted in ratings and attendance.

You had 52,631 people squeezed into 49,586-seat Turner Field, and the majority of those folks were in place for the first pitch.

That was despite a 5 p.m. start on a Friday evening, when traffic is brutal throughout the Atlanta area.

Translated: Fans love the current Wild Card system, and everything else being equal in sports, it's always about the fans. 

This isn't a translation that fans love the current Wild Card system. This is a translation that Braves fans want to see Chipper Jones' potential last game as a Brave and if MLB is going to stick the team with a one game playoff the fans are going to be there to support their team. The fact the game was sold out only reflects fans wanted to see the Braves in a playoff game and possibly (and ultimately) only had one chance to do so. I can't deny it is a format that MLB sees as working, but this doesn't mean it is the most efficient and effective way of determining the Wild Card winner.

Still, you have knee-jerk suggestions about expanding the Wild Card round in each league to nothing less than a best-of-three series. I say "knee-jerk" because few making these suggestions wish to deal with the ramifications of expanding the playoffs. 

Because we wouldn't want a 162 game season to go 1-2 more games. That would make a mockery of the sport. It's more important to MLB that there is a one game playoff for the Wild Card and the already long season doesn't go 1-2 games longer than necessary, than it is to ensure the other 162 games are fairly represented when determining the Wild Card winner.

Right now, if the World Series goes seven games and there are no rainouts, it would finish on Nov. 1, which already is pushing things, especially if games are played in St. Louis, Washington or Cincinnati.

So shorten the season to 154 games. After all, we've learned when it comes to the one game Wild Card playoff a team's record over 162 games gets them the same reward in the playoffs as which league wins the All-Star Game. Actually, MLB values a win in the All-Star Game more than they value a team's record over 162 games. At least a team from the league that wins the All Star Game gets four home games in the World Series as opposed to one home game in the Wild Card "series."

Start the regular season earlier, you say? When? The middle of March, when that madness is happening in college basketball? 

There only needs to be a three game series. It isn't like MLB would have to move the regular season schedule back two weeks to make this happen. So this argument is stupid because the MLB season wouldn't have to move further back into the NCAA Tournament. The MLB season would have to be shortened or the season would start 2-3 days earlier than usual.

Not to mention, MLB starts their baseball season right in the middle of the Final Four and Championship Game. What's the issue with starting the season the weekend after the Final Four is set? When has MLB ever been concerned with starting their season against competition from college basketball or been concerned at all with competition from other sports? Baseball season takes place right in the middle of college football and NFL season.

You also would have serious ramifications involving Spring Training. All of those municipalities in Arizona and Florida didn't have those bidding wars to have teams shorten their stays in town each February and March. 

"I'm sorry we can't make the Wild Card format we created more fair and equitable to the team with the better regular season record, but it is just too much work. We wouldn't want to interfere with exhibition games or start the MLB season 2-3 games earlier than we do now, even though we have no issue continuing to push the end of the World Series further back until the start of November. So even though MLB created a flawed format, it is too much work to make any corrections to the format."

I mention shortening Spring Training, because the other two options would have about as much chance of happening as changing the color of baseballs.

• They could shorten the regular season, which would mean lost revenue for owners and for the game overall. 

I would like to see the season shortened to 154 games, but I know that won't happen. So move the season back 2-3 days or schedule a doubleheader during the season so there can be a three game series. Fans love doubleheaders.

So get over it, and then join the rest of us by enjoying what Jones likes to call "cut-throat baseball." 

It's not about enjoying it or not enjoying it. I enjoyed it, but I would like to see a more equitable version of the Wild Card series where a baseball series is actually played which better reflects the two team's season record.

(Bud Selig tells Terence Moore he did a good job and then gives him a pat on the back) 


rich said...

Baseball now has a bunch of teams playing competitively every moment down the stretch.

You play 162 games to get to the playoffs and then you get one game (or 0.6% of the regular season) to advance or not.

Lets expand this to the work place: You get ~110 days off work, so lets say you work 255 days of the year. It'd be like busting your ass 253 of those days and then being fired because the guy who eats paste managed to outwork you for a day and a half.

It just sucks when you see a team like Detroit (88 wins) squeak in due to a shitty division, while Texas and Baltimore (93 wins each) play one game to determine who moves on.

If you're going to make it as arbitrary as a one game play in, make the two worst records play, regardless of whether their a division winner. The fact that a team with five more wins got eliminated after one game.

Remember the recent old days prior to this year? There was one Wild Card in each league, and even though the drama wasn't as prolific as we have now, there still was drama.

What rock did Terence have his head under? This year's stretch was boring as shit, each wild card was won by at least two games. Maybe the AL was exciting, but the only reason the NL race could even be termed above "awful" is because the Cards and Dodgers were playing terrible baseball down the stretch and the Phillies and Brewers made late runs, but neither came closer than FIVE GAMES.

The most exciting parts of September were the As and Rangers in addition to the Os and Yankees, but they were both exciting because the division was at stake, not because of the second wild card.

Like you Ben, I like the idea of the second WC slot, but hate the execution.

the television ratings rising. Big time.

Hahahahaha, no they aren't. The ratings for the play-in game was 3.3 averaged for both games, that's up slightly from last years LDS, but part of that is because two of the LDSs were matchups of small market teams.

For comparison, the LCS this year has had a bigger jump than the jump from 2011 LDS to 2012 play in game.

Another comparison - SportsCenter's rating this week? 4.5. The fucking game between the Browns and Ravens was a 5.8, a 3.3 is not something to point to as being indicative of overwhelming fan support.

Then again, no one made this argument. Most people (like you Ben) said that the second WC team was a cool idea, but the one game idea was dumb.

If you're looking at a ratings/attendance bump, imagine a 3 or 5 game series. It'd likely get the same type of ratings and you'd be able to milk it over 2-5 games.

is absolutely perfect.

Maybe it's just me, but anytime someone uses an absolute to talk about their opinion, that's a douchecanoe. There's in no perfect baseball playoff because there's always someone who is going to have a different idea that has aspects that work better.

In fact, folks love sudden death throughout sports, and it's been that way forever.

Is that whey baseball is the only sport whose season spans more than 20 games and yet has a one game playoff series?

If sudden death is that great, why not let every team play in a round robin single elimination tournament until you get to your final four?

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I'm fine with division winners getting in the playoffs. Would I hate it if it ended up being the teams with the five best records in each league? Probably not, but I can handle the division winner not having a better record than a Wild Card team. I wouldn't mind if they had to play each other for the Wild Card, but that won't happen. I can simply handle a three game series. That's all I want.

That being said, I am with you on the analogy. The one game playoff takes a whole season of work and just flushes it down the drain, or at the very least makes it dependent on one game after 162 games have been played. It doesn't reward a full season of work, just like in your example a day and a half of work is weighted more than 253 and a half days of work.

Last year was exciting and this year wasn't nearly as exciting. It was teams jockeying for position as to whether they won the division or Wild Card. I know that Terence Moore hates the second Wild Card. I can almost feel him arguing against here, but he knows he can't. He points out other years have had exciting finishes as well, which is true. The one game Wild Card is a desperate attempt to get drama.

I also think it is ridiculous the winner of the All-Star Game gets more of a reward than a Team A who has played better for 162 games than Team B. One home game isn't a sufficient reward for being better in the standings than another team over a 162 game stretch. Yes, teams could have more similar records in the future than they had this year, but there will also be cases where the first Wild Card is 4-5 games better than the second Wild Card team.

There was excitement around the games, which is what I know MLB wanted. Of course, if I am not wrong, the ratings for the playoffs are up across the board anyway. So the increase in the ratings could be a result of ratings being up across the board.

I don't get how a person can call the one game playoff "perfect." It simply isn't. If MLB is going to make a second Wild Card, give that team more than one game to advance. A one game playoff takes too much of the season and discards it. This isn't football or basketball where one game can define the strength of a team. In baseball, a team's strength is also contained within its starting pitching. So a 3-5 game series would be more appropriate.

Not to mention, the Wild Card game is completely different from any other playoff game. It has different rosters, different roster's just not the same as a playoff game.

Exactly. If sudden death is so great, why not have a one game playoff for the NLDS, NLCS, and World Series? It's a great idea, let's do it.

MLB wouldn't do this because they want the best team decided over more than a one game span, so why can't they apply the same principle to the Wild Card game?

Anonymous said...

I mention shortening Spring Training, because the other two options would have about as much chance of happening as changing the color of baseballs.

They have "[changed] the color of baseballs" before in the interest of making things more "exciting" and adding more "drama."

Exhibit A:

(Gold ball in HR Derby)

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I believe they changed the color of the ball in the 1970's during Spring Training at the request of Charlie Finley and that went over terribly. I think they were orange. I'm sure if MLB told Terence to write positive things about the orange ball in the 70's he would have done so.

I can't believe I missed that and I can't believe Terence forgot MLB considered changing the color of the least briefly they considered it.