Monday, October 01, 2012

Playoffs!? You're asking about the playoffs!?

Ah! That Coach Mora line will never get old, will it? But it does introduce the topic of this post, and that is: If a team is one of the two wild card teams, does that mean the teams made it to the playoffs? Oh, the realization is that the one game play-in or game-in, or whatever they are calling it, will be considered the post season. The stats sites will include those two games in a player's post season stats and not the regular season stats. But is it really making the playoffs?

Yes, this is all semantics, no doubt. We can call anything by whatever name we want to call it. But here is the problem: The one game is fought for the right to go to the division series. In other words, the two wild card teams are playing for the right to compete as one of the four playoff teams. So that makes the event not quite a playoff and yet the post season. 

And it is easy to see why MLB set it up this way. Calling it the 163rd game of the season gets messy. Should a guy who finishes by a few percentage points for the batting title after the 162nd game be penalized if he goes without a hit in that 163rd game? But there is already precedent for that. The 1978 season gave us a one game play-in, or whatever, between the Red Sox and the Yankees--the famous Bucky Dent game. But that was not a post season game. That was the 163rd game for each team.

And that precedent might happen again this season if say, the Rays and the A's finished the season in a tie for the final wild card spot. That would be each team's 163rd game, not a playoff game...not a post season game.

This way--and this is why MLB is smarter than us--more teams are fighting for a playoff spot. Yes, a playoff spot. That's what they call it. They did not say that on September 15, sixteen teams were still in the hunt to play an extra game at the end of the season. They said that sixteen teams were in the playoff hunt. And yet, it is not. It is a game to determine which team gets into the playoffs.

Again, this is semantics, sure. Despite its little semantics chicanery, even MLB could not quite go as far as it wanted to. Even they did not call the one game a playoff game. They called it a game-in, or whatever that term is they have been using.

For this observer, if the Yankees or the Orioles or the Rays or the Angels or the A's have to play each other as the two wild card teams, the loser of that game did not make it to the playoffs. Statistically speaking, the team will have made it to the post season. But the team did not. Not really. The team that wins that one game? Yes, then they will be a playoff team.


Left Field said...

I agree, with one exception. If the Orioles get bounced from the wild card game, they still get to consider themselves as having made the playoffs. Because, well, they're the Orioles.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

That makes sense.