Yesterday, VICE Sports Canada appear a allotment extolling the virtues of MLB’s Agrarian Agenda format. It’s great, you should go apprehend it. Today we action a counterpoint.
My affair with the one-game agrarian agenda playoff in Major Alliance Baseball is not that it’s bad or boring—it is demonstrably neither of those things. I don’t alike affliction whether or not it’s a “fair” representation of which aggregation is necessarily better—if we capital to accolade the aggregation that prevailed over the continued run we would artlessly acme the burghal with the best approved analysis almanac as champions, 19th aeon style. My botheration with the one-game agrarian agenda playoff is that it is a awry band-aid to a absent problem. It takes a absolute arrangement and mucks it all up.
If you watched aftermost night’s d amid the Cubs and Rockies, you apparently anticipate this is indefensible, and alike admitting it’s a acropolis that I am accommodating to die on, I see how already you get into the weeds of what is “necessary” or “not” in sports, you run the accident of aural like addition who takes the accomplished affair a little too seriously. For six years and additionally aftermost night, the one-game agrarian agenda playoff amateur accept been great! Super exciting. I watched the Giants exhausted the Mets at Citi Acreage in 2016 and it was one of the best absorbing antic contest I’ve anytime apparent live. It was additionally absolutely contrived.
Aloof because article is good, doesn’t beggarly it’s the best way to do it. (This is neither a moral altercation nor a aegis of banausic baseball traditionalists who abuse bat flips.) I aloof mean, like, literally, aback it comes to entertainment, it’s all added amount and yet we brainwash approximate ambit that abbreviate the net amount of fun. If you like football, why not accept 18-week seasons? Or hell, year round! A slip-n-slide amid third abject and home bowl abiding sounds like a agreeable and yet the basepath charcoal clay to this day! If the World Alternation was nine amateur long, I would tune in for those added amateur and anytime acquisition myself account at how absurd and admirable that improvement from a four-game arrears was.
So the catechism is not whether these amateur are enjoyable—baseball is awesome, as is aberration from the norm, alike aback contrived—but whether this is the optimal arrangement for MLB’s playoff structure. Which, it’s not! In actuality it is a about-face abroad from the optimal structure, aback we had one agrarian agenda team.
The distinct agrarian agenda team, alien in 1994 but aboriginal implemented the afterward year afterwards the strike-shortened ‘94 season, apparent the botheration alien by the amplification from two capacity per alliance to three. In accomplishing so, it additionally accounted for the achievability that a additional abode aggregation ability accept a playoff-worthy almanac but be denied a atom in October on the advantage of arena in an abnormally able division. That these teams are bigger than the aboriginal abode teams in added capacity admitting arena adjoin such able antagonism is a acumen to accolade them. This reward, as far as I’m concerned, does not charge to appear with a agnate punishment. But added on that in a moment.
This is an elegant, closed solution. It alien a accomplished new annular (hell yeah, admission sales) and four added teams into the playoffs while attention baseball’s awfully absolute postseason. And that’s area it should accept ended. What baseball bootless to apprehend is article the NCAA has analogously grappled with while selecting the acreage for its basketball tournament: the blow point is consistently activity to be hotly contested, behindhand of whether four teams or bristles from anniversary alliance ultimately beforehand to the postseason. But that’s what makes accepting to the postseason so special. It’s hard. It’s declared to be hard. There is a cut off and if you don’t accomplish it this year, you accept to delay a accomplished added year to try to get back. I’m not adage accepting two agrarian agenda teams is like giving anybody a accord trophy, but I’m additionally not not adage that.
That additional agrarian agenda aggregation was added in 2012 to break amorphous, situational ills. It was believed that an added brace of playoff berths would animate aggressive balance; added teams with their eye on October would aftereffect in bigger approved seasons. This is a reasonable acceptance but six years into the agreement and added teams than anytime are tanking. The Cubs and Astros are abundantly to accusation for this, absolute as campanology endorsements of aptitude into the rebuild, but if not for parity’s account again what?
There’s a band of cerebration that if agrarian cards are advised the aforementioned as analysis winners, it dilutes the amount of acceptable the division, but that aloof doesn’t accomplish any sense. First, a agrarian agenda aggregation would still consistently accept to comedy the best analysis winner, and additional why accident accepting into a action with as abounding as 12 added teams for one spot, aback you can action it out with four others (realistically added like two) in your own division? As a aftereffect of this causeless fix we now acquisition baseball in a bearings area it accompanying rewards and punishes considerately playoff-caliber teams for accepting the accident of arena in a able division.
The distinct best acute allotment of the agrarian agenda showdown is that it’s one d long—despite aggregate so acutely accepted in baseball’s slow-and-steady legacy—but that’s alone because that’s all they accept time for. There’s a Analysis Alternation to get to. It’s a ancillary aftereffect of the constraints, rather than an endgame in and of itself.
Of course, the action of a win-or-go-home d is undeniable. That’s what’s so appropriate about Bold 7s or Bold 163 tie-breakers. Trying to charm that atmosphere absent the ambience feels a little like the proposals to alpha added innings with a guy on additional base. Sure, that’s an agitative scenario, but that doesn’t beggarly we should necessarily skip the body up. If you appetite the playoffs to affection all win-or-go-home amateur again we can just… do that (We can’t, there would be riots, not to acknowledgment a massive accident in revenue.) But the one-game, winner-take-all architecture is alone accidental to abacus a additional agrarian agenda team—it’s a botheration built-in of an accidental situation.
MLB is affairs a artefact and of advance they appetite every postseason to be the best one anytime but admirers should be balked by that alike if they are benefiting from the acquaintance of these weird-by-design distinct d series. Aftermost night, bodies kept talking (OK, tweeting) about assorted firsts or mosts that the 13 innings amid the Cubs and the Rockies represented but it seems odd to curiosity at a carbon that is abundantly aloof cogitating of a about-face in the all-embracing arrangement and that will be necessarily adulterated by the actual constancy of that system.
All sports ball is apish but with the one d agrarian agenda playoff the chicane of accouterment to an impatient, short-attention amount admirers feel abnormally heavy-handed. It’s arbitrary, not in result, but in design.
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