A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

It’s Time MLB to Change Postseason

Every year I question why on earth the season has to be so long. There are obviously many reasons for it; some are understandable, others not so much. People enjoy baseball a lot and are willing to pay to go to every game.

Then you have the higher-ups who just want as much money as possible with television contracts and ticket revenues.

The logic of a 162-game season and just an eight-team postseason doesn’t make sense. In the other major sports, more teams have the opportunity.

The NFL allows 12 teams out of 32 into the playoffs; the NHL allows 16 teams out of 30; the NBA 16 out of 30.

Now obviously for baseball purists, having that many games and so few postseason participants is what makes the game special and unique. I can’t argue with that. It’s a great game.

But I can’t help but wonder how teams with 90+ wins don’t get in simply because there’s not enough room.

And what’s the incentive for bad teams to continue competing past July?

“Hey guys, it’s not looking good for us 82 games in. But it’s almost over—oh wait, we have 82 more games to play. Damn.”

I enjoy parity and while baseball has gotten better with parity, it could use a more consistent format to bring it more to fruition.

This may seem like a crazy idea, but rock ‘n’ roll seemed like the dumbest idea ever at one point too.

This also comes on the heels of talks of having an amoeba-like division system; smaller market teams have a chance to switch divisions because they can’t compete with teams like the Yankees who fork out money like it’s cheese samples.

I’m not sure about that idea, but a new postseason debate needs to be started.

So, submitted for your difficult-to-get approval, here are some options for a new format:

1. Shorten the season by about 30 games (a month) and add two teams from each league to the postseason. This would take on an NFL-type format with the top two teams receiving byes. That doesn’t sound like baseball, but it does give two extra teams a chance.

2. Shorten the season by 30 games and add four teams from each league. This is the NHL and NBA style of doing things. The early series would have to be five games to keep things short.

3. Shorten the season by 30 games and keep the existing four-team postseason, but allow the division series to be seven games. Hopefully, this way November games would disappear, if not be few and far between. It also allows for more intense division and wild card races, with the shorter season.

4. Shorten the season by 15 games and allow five or six teams from each league in the playoffs. Then, execute a round robin format and have each team play the others four-five times. It’s the most radical suggestion so far, but have to throw everything out there, right?

5. Keep it as is.

There’s probably some variations of those options you can do to make it unique to baseball. I’m guessing I’ll see 95% opposition to this, but go ahead and let me know what you think in the comments — if it should be changed, any options you like, options of your own.

Let’s get the debate going.

–Ray

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a 1-1 Hockey Game in the 2nd Period…

So, as I sit here watching the first of four Wings Sharks games of the 2008-2009 season and the Sharks just scored ruining my title but I’m not changing it. Congrats to Jamie McGinn on his first career NHL goal. (Now 3-1… OH OZZY!!!)

The team who everyone thought was going to be the team to beat in the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning have started very slowly.  Vinny Lecavalier is getting hot and Mike Smith is playing his tail off in net for the Lightning. If Olie the Goalie doesn’t start winning, he may be catching some pine and become a spectator.

The Chicago Blackhawks fired their coach 4 games into the season and have flourished under Joe Quenneville. Sitting fourth in the Central Division, the Hawks are warming up and are getting ready to make their move.

The Pacific Division is going to be a dead heat between the Ducks and the Sharks. The Ducks have gotten off to a slow start at home and if they want to keep in the race, with a 13 day road trip coming up later in the season, the Ducks better start winning. The Ducks came from behind and beat the Wings last night in OT after a wild third period. Quack Quack Quack!!!

In the east, the Rangers are the first team to double digit victories and the Canadiens have only one regulation time loss. Can someone say Conference Finals preview when they meet up? Possibly.

With the World Series being completed, and the one sport no one watches (the NBA) the NHL is ready to continue gaining more and more fans. Unlike the rest of the leagues, there is non-stop play, non-stop excitement, and a you never know what to expect. While the weather outside cools down, the temperatures inside hockey stadiums are heating up and it’s going to be a wild winter.

Nathans Future Child

Nathan's Future Child

Have a good winter everyone…

– Nathan

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shocktober!!!

Let’s do some math.

162 games + 48 saves + 11 wins + 40 man roster = x

Luckily, the MLB has done the math for us and solved for x.

X is equal to 1 World Championship for the city of Philadelphia.

A mixture of young all-stars and old veterans and one hell of a manager has led the Philadelphia Phillies to another world series title.

Everybody knew Philadelphia was good, but never this good. And no one would have predicted them to win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Congrats to the Rays on a phenomenal season and once again, congrats to all you Philadelphians.

Next year, the title is going to the north side of Chicago.  Hmm…I think I have heard this before, once or twice!

Lets Go Cubs!!!

Its gonna happen... they think.

It's gonna happen... they think.

-Nate

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dissecting the Blue Jays

This Blue Jays team as of late has shown the MLB what it can really do once it gets rolling. It was necessary for GM J.P. Ricciardi to fire then manager John Gibbons. He had shown the Jays’ potential but could never really activate the potential when need be. So it was time for a change. Former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston replaced him and had a goal of a .500 record before the All-Star break. Toronto came close but did not achieve the .500 mark, but the message had been sent. The Blue Jays could come back into the AL Wild Card Race.

The Blue Jays lead the MLB in ERA with 3.55 and complete games (13). Ace Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett have been carrying the work load combining to pitch 437.1 innings and a combined 412 strikeouts. Unfortunately, their records have not really shown that with Halladay being 18-11 and Burnett 18-10. Still, the long innings these two pitch have helped to craft a very young bullpen still getting the hang of things. The only big name in the ‘pen is B.J. Ryan and has converted 30/34 save opportunities with 57 K – a solid season coming off Tommy John surgery. So, if you have pitching, you should be able to win games, right?

Well, let’s look at fielding, which was a problem for the Jays last year. After bringing in a slew of NL players in the offseason, the Jays are 6th in fielding percentage at .986. The defense is good, the pitching is fantastic. And the have a great offense already don’t they? With Rios and Wells? Not exactly…

Here is the struggle for Toronto: Offense. You can’t win games if you can’t get runs. Halladay doesn’t get you 5 runs for throwing a complete game, so the offense has needed to step up. Unfortunately, it has a little too late. Toronto is batting .265 on the season, good for 14th in the majors. A big problem has been missing ad that is a big bat in the lineup. Without Frank Thomas to protect young Rios and Wells, there have only been 117 homers hit out by Jays players: 25th in MLB.

Let’s focus a little bit more specifically on the offense. Believe it or not, there is not one Blue Jay that has 20 HR. The closest is Alex Rios with 17. Pitiful. Unacceptable in this day and age of the long ball. GM Ricciardi MUST address this in the offseason. If it means giving up a young pitcher or two, do it. You have got to manufacture runs. Keep in mind though, the Blue Jays have been bitte by the injury bug a lot this year, which they have the last two years. Only 3 players have played over 106 games (Overbay, Rios, Scutaro). Rios has been the money man for the Jays though, leaving me wondering if the Rios for Lincecum deal would have went through in the offseason if the Jays could do anything offensively. Rios has hit the most home runs, hits, doubles, and stolen bases. He can’t do everything though. He has got to have help. OF Vernon Wells just has never been the same since that huge deal a couple years ago.

There has been hope though! The last 30 days, the Jays are 4th in batting average, 4th in hits and the top 10 for most hitting categories in the MLB. They can do it. As much as I hate saying wait until next year, Jays fans, we are going to have to. Ricciardi will lose the big Burnett salary and hopefully can bring in some serious hitters, while keeping the main core of pitching together (Halladay, Marcum, McGowan, Litsch). Perhaps maybe bringing in a good arm or two for the bullpen. Maybe the slogan next year will be “Not the Rays, it’s the Jays!” Boston continues to get old, and the Yankees are a complete mess. It could very well be the Rays and Jays becoming the new Boston and New York. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

-Ray

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Will Never Forget… (A 9/11 Remembrance)

At 8:42 a.m., September 11th, 2001, time stopped.

Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the unbelievable news, seven years ago today.

The United States government, the sporting world, the stock market, and everything else that occurs on a normal day in America, came to a screeching halt. There was a lack of knowledge about exactly what had happened or how it had happened, but there a few things that every American knew:

We were NOT going to lay down in the face of fear.

We would find the culprits and capture everyone who was involved.

We would stand up next to each other, because we are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Just like everyone else in the world, the sporting world was just as affected by the terrorist attacks. Any games that were supposed to be played were postponed, while the world sat in horror not knowing what was going to happen next. The Major League Baseball season was halted for a week – not because the players couldn’t play – but because no one knew what was safe. So while safety rules were implemented, players went home to be with their families and friends. A week later, the players came back rested, and ready to represent America in only ways athletes could.

The sporting world represents America year around and all over the the world. 6 days after the attacks, American’s knew they had to get back to a state of normalcy and the way they did that was by watching the sports and entertainment world. God Bless America and the United States National Anthem played throughout America at all sporting events after that horrific day. Firefighters and police officers helped spread out American flags across baseball diamonds and other sporting venues. The New York Mets and Yankees, or Yankees and Mets if you are a Yankees fan, along with some other athletes from across the United States, showed faith and gratitude to those who lost their lives, emergency personnel that showed up at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and the landing field of United 93, by sponsoring apparel that were given to the players. The most popular 4 letter acronym following the attacks, without a doubt, had to be NYPD. We, as Americans, owe the NYPD and NYFD for all their courage, because without them, who knows how many more lives could have been lost.

The late Jack Buck addressed the fans in St. Louis before the first game started after the attacks. Standing in front of a capacity crowd of Red, White, and Blue, he pulled out a piece of paper and began to read:

“Since this nation was founded … under God

More than 200 years ago

We have been the bastion of freedom

The light that keeps the free world aglow

We do not covet the possessions of others

We are blessed with the bounty we share.

We have rushed to help other nations

… anything … anytime … anywhere.

War is just not our nature

We won’t start … but we will end the fight

If we are involved we shall be resolved

To protect what we know is right.

We have been challenged by a cowardly foe

Who strikes and then hides from our view.

With one voice we say, “There is no choice today,

There is only one thing to do.

Everyone is saying — the same thing — and praying

That we end these senseless moments we are living.

As our fathers did before … we shall win this unwanted war

And our children … will enjoy the future … we’ll be giving.”

Mr. Buck did not make it through the entire poem without shedding tears, but from the view of the MLB, that was the defining moment. It was the first time since the events that someone, other than the government, had come out and made a speech about the events. Mr. Buck had made the speech that had convinced Americans worldwide who had tuned into the game, that we would be OK and that we would never forget.

Lee Greenwood puts it best in his song “God Bless the USA” when he says:

“And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me, And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.”

We as American’s need not to forget those who gave up their lives to save others, and to save us on that horrific day, seven years ago.

And to all those firefighters and police officers who continue to protect us everyday, thank you.

-Nathan


September 11, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Other | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Let’s have another look”

Ray’s take on Instant Replay in sports:

With the brand new addition of instant replay to baseball drags up what seems the neverending debate of instant replay in sports. First of all, we all have been in that situation, as fans, while watching a game saying something like “There is no way he caught that! I want to see a replay!” Upon seeing the replay, it confirms your thoughts and you want the call changed on the field. Up until baseball now, it was soley up to the umpires and if you have been paying attention this year, it seems like they keep saying the opposite of what really happened, (they call a foul ball a home run, call a home run a foul ball). I cannot recall seeing a highlight o sportcenter where a controversial call ended up being called right. Of course, that my be their way of trying to get to commissioner Bud Selig. That is our job as the media, but I digress.

I believe instant replay should be implemented in some way in every sport because it can and most likely will be utilized. There is no sport where there a 0 controversial calls, so long as there is a referee. Now, with that said, I do not believe in instant replay for every single play. I completely understand the MLB umpires only implementing replay for home run calls. Having it for balls and strikes would just draw out the usual 3 hour TV time game.

The NFL has its replay system as close to perfect as you can get. There will be missed calls but that is to be expected with human error and sometimes limited camera angles. I think they replay the right things and to add anymore would enlongate the game. Sure, there are times when commentators say “this play is unreviewable,” (i.e. down by contact) but that only comes up once every few games; not enough for replay to be implemented.

The NHL has a replay system which is mainly used for goals and for pucks being played with high sticks (mostly coming in scoring situations). The difference between the NHL replay and NFL replay is that there is a ‘war room’ in the NHL where all the replay calls come from. The NFL has the head referee of the game go look at the play and he makes his own judgment call. I would say the advantage goes to the NHL there, that way if they miss a call you can blame the head referees of the league. Just leave the refs on the field to give out penalties and their regular jobs, but NOT deciding the game.

To the people that are completely against instant replay, I can’t understand why you would want it that way. Replay only helps the game, not hampers it (if used correctly of course). But the inevitability says there will be opposition to everything but in order for advancement, you have to drudge through it. It is good to see that Major League Baseball is willing to change and make the right calls for the betterment of the game.

-Ray

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Football, Hockey | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And It All Comes Down To This…

With the summer coming to an end and all the hype about the upcoming fall lineup, let’s not forget about what baseball fans consider to be the best time of the year. On September 1st, teams across the MLB will call up young prospects and players who they feel will help their push for the pennant, as the rosters increase from 25 players to 40 players. With all but one division up for grabs, who knows what the month of September could entail for the avid baseball fans.

In April, no one could have predicted that on August 26th the Rays would be leading the AL East and that the Marlins would be only 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East. With the Rays being lead by a mix of young up and coming athletes and those veterans that have stuck around while there were more players on the field than fans in the stadium, and the Marlins, who after losing Miguel Cabrera were basically overlooked by everyone at the beginning of the season, the state of Florida as witnessed one of the most improbable summers. The Rays are second in power rankings and have won more games this season than any season before, and the closer we get to October, it looks like Tropicana Field is going to be able to host its first playoff game in team history. The Marlins are being lead by the left side of their infield. Jorge Cantu, replacing the departed Miguel Cabrera, and Hanley Ramirez, who together have 50 home runs and are both batting close to .300 on the season, have led the Marlins just 5.5 games back of the East leading Mets. With 6 games left (3 home, 3 away) with both the Mets and the Phillies, the next 5 weeks are gonna be of much importance to the Marlins. A series sweep to either team, and you can possibly count the Marlins out.

The one question that remains to be asked is if the title is coming back to Chicago. Both teams currently lead their respecitive divisons, and right now the Chicago Cubs are the front runners in the National League. Having won 8 straight series, and the Brewers and the Cardinals meeting up in St. Louis this week, the Cubs have a good chance of extending their division leading record over both the Brewers and the Cards. The Chicago White Sox are locked in a battle with the Minnesota Twins. The White Sox need to take advantage of the Twins extended road trip, the longest in some 39 years. The White Sox need to win as many games now because starting on September 15th, the White Sox head for a 10 game roadtrip, which include their last stop at Yankee Stadium for a four game series, and a quick stop inside the Metrodome, with a series with the Royals in between. Saying both Chicago teams are going to make it into October is a stretch, but odds are, at least one of them will.

Out west, the Angels have their division wrapped up. All three teams in their division, are over 15 games out of first place, and with their pickup of Mark Teixiera, its safe to say the Angels are in the playoffs. The Dbacks and the Dodgers have been flip-flopping back and forth all season long. The Dbacks picked up Adam Dunn and the Dodgers picked up Manny Ramirez, so expect both teams to be competing long into September.

Sports fans, its time to sit back and relax as we are getting ready to hit the most exciting time of the MLB season. Lets see if the Rays can hold onto their division lead, and get used to hearing Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” because simply, the Cubs are unbeatable at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, and are basically a lock to be playing late into October.

-Nathan

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , | Leave a comment