Archives for posts with tag: Peter Gammons

Got back not too long ago from Regis Courtemanche’s “Knock Cancer Outta Here!” event.  Thanks, Regis, for a great time.  The math I did in my head leads me to believe you made your goal of $5,000.  Truly wonderful.

Separately, I am still winless at organized Mets events outside the ball park (vs. Atlanta: L; 5-2.  ::Fist shaking:: TATIS!!!)

But I’m here.  Craving a Bailey’s hot chocolate, though it’s far too warm, and I have no Bailey’s.  Or chocolate.

So.  All right, Mr. Gammons.  Less’ go.

There is certainly no reason not to “think about having two wild-card teams per league.” I think about lots of things all the time.  I once thought about what it would be like if the world discovered that French was in fact an exercise in communal gibberish: a social experiment run internally by the Frogs and inflicted on the rest of the global population.  Wouldn’t put it past them.

There’ve been no hard and tight races for division leads, no.  Not ones that are down to the wire, save for whatever’s going on in the A.L. Central between Detroit, they of the 81-70 record, and Minnesota, of the 79-73 record.  Records like that don’t interest me.  If I were in Detroit, or in Minnesota, I might feel differently, as I’d have something to watch for.

But I don’t think baseball falls off America’s radar in September because there are so many other demands placed on their time, at this time.  I think it falls off America’s radar in September because, after one hundred forty or one hundred fifty games, every city’s got a decent sense of whether they’re in it or not.  So watching a mediocre team, in an awful division that’s not my own, wrestling for a playoff spot with another team, just as mediocre and just as not-around, would not interest me in the slightest. 

Ask me again in the event the option’s available and the Mets have a shot at getting in, and I might change my tune.

But honestly, this smacks of some sort of charity.  Baseball is a massive zero-sum game, wherein a team’s wins come with the price tag of other teams’ losses.  Here’s a look at the A.L. standings in 1998, when the Yankees won one hundred fourteen regular-season games.  Only Boston cracked ninety wins.  In case people are turned off by the mention of the Yankees (and I get that such a thing happens), here’s a look at the N.L. standings in 1998.  Two powerhouses and a strong division leader, and a whole lot of other teams left in the dust.

I’d argue about how confusing the logistics of the plan are on the surface–at least to me, at this late hour–but we shouldn’t shy away from hard.  I just don’t see this weekend wild-card play-in doing anything but sparking mild interest locally, which is best solved by seeking competitive parity between the teams so that regular season games are exciting.

But “competitive parity” could be interpreted as code for “salary cap,” and I just don’t want to go there tonight.

I wonder, in the absence of the Rockies winning twenty-one out of twenty-two games down the stretch, or the Mets losing division leads late, and with how competitive football has been this year (I’ve watched a lot of great football from surprising teams), if Mr. Gammons feels a little let down about the return of regular wrap-ups to the season.  But I don’t know that, on any given year, I need my baseball to make national news.  (It would be nice if it made local news.)  There are so many teams in baseball, and so many ways to play to rivalries, and play excitedly with the math of playoff spots, that one risks over-complicating that joy with a pre-postseason. 

It’s essentially the argument against the wild card in and of itself, but the difference is one of degrees.  We can have three divisions per league, have competitive seasons on the balance of years, and see about celebrating a team that has achieved a kind of legitimacy by winning the most games without being a division leader.

I don’t see that there’s a compelling argument behind us cheering to bring in the first-placer otherwise shut out by a team having a franchise year as well as cheering to bring in the best of the second-placers, with the belief that they’ll have to balance being even weaker going in, or be grateful that a team with greater resources emptied the kitchen at another, including the sink.

Additionally, if a wild-card play-in isn’t going to siphon viewership from college football or cause football to share some of its excitement, then why suggest it as a solution?  If it’s about team revenues–and Mr. Gammons brings up money early and often–then there are other ways to drum up money.  Have a bake sale.

Football’s an aggressive game for an aggressive country, with few teams, a short schedule, and amorphous and diffuse fan boundaries.  That speaks to a fan of a certain temperament; the fan that watches baseball day-in and day-out for six months might be a different animal.  Those who have a foot in each world will ratchet up or crank back their excitement based on their available options for continued joy/masochism.

There’s my response.  I’d be remiss if I talked about baseball’s postseason without complaining about the late start times for games, so consider yourselves complained-on.

At least it’s not hockey or basketball.  Those playoffs DO go on forever.

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I’m in the middle of lunch at present, but I’ve just read something I’m sure I’ll want to talk about this evening.

So head over to ESPN and read a piece by Peter Gammons on expanding the baseball postseason by two teams.

And then, for a fun and informative graphic, check out work by Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Flyball, noting the best records in baseball since the start of the wild card era, along with division winners, wild card winners, league champions, and World Series winners.  (This was also linked to by Amazin’ Avenue in today’s “Applesauce.”  Fantastic.)

So read, get the knee-jerk vitriolic reaction out of your system, then come back here and get my take sometime tonight, before the Night Man grabs hold of me.

Honestly, the cooling-off period applies to me, too.  I had an immediate reaction, then thought to myself, “Why are you getting so worked up?”  Growth, my friends.  Personal growth.

Anyway, read, and then we’ll talk.

(ERRANT UPDATE: Been tracking the Times‘s fecklessness with regard to the Mets for a couple weeks now, not so much because they’re perceived to have a bias, but because they have a responsibility to cover Things Which Happen In New York, and they’re simply not doing that.

I didn’t want to point it out in the morning when I saw it because I wanted to give them a chance to fix it, but as I spend my thirtieth minute on hold with a credit card company, I’d like to point out that their Sports page incorrectly states the score of last night’s game [ignore what’s grayed out]:

nytimes.jpgI don’t know that I’d feel better if:

  • the article were written by a staffer (it’s the AP wire story), or 

  • if the headline of the article, after the jump, got the score wrong, too (it doesn’t), or 

  • if this hadn’t stayed this way for OVER SIXTEEN HOURS, or 

  • some combination of those, or all three.

This is unconscionably lame.  I know for certain the sports guys aren’t busy covering President Obama and his trip through the city.  The U.S. Open is over.  The Yankees have been guaranteed a playoff berth since about 12:30a this morning.

You’re telling me the guy in charge of making sure the sports board’s legit can’t find five seconds to get the score right on the link?

Next time I read a piece in the Times about Mets players’ lack of fundamentals, I’m going to mail the paper a box of baseballs wrapped in examples of their incompetence.

Thirty-five minutes on hold.  That’s it.  I’m hanging up.

By the way: yes, I’m still upset.)

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.