Friday, October 3, 2008

R.I.P. Chicago Cubs

What a joke baseball's post-season is. You play 162 games and show that you are clearly better and then baseball sticks you in what may be only a 3-game series and it's over. Or as Billy Beane said in Moneyball, "My sh*t doesn't work in the post-season."

I don't care what happens here. The Cubs were clearly the better team this year.

The World Series winner is now little more than a statistical fraud. St. Louis barely even had a winning record a couple of years ago, but the better team tends to only win about 55% of the time in baseball, which means that a true powerhouse like Seattle had when they won 116 games in the regular season has less than a 20% chance of winning the World Series. A wildcard team with a couple of good pitchers can stumble its way into a title.

This was somewhat obscured at the beginning of the addition of the dreadful five game division series back in 1996 because the Yankees had an unlikely run, winning four times in five years. But since the 2000 season, no team has repeated and some very mediocre teams have won the Series.

I sincerely doubt that the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, which were the only NL team in the last 80 years to repeat, could do so under these modern rules. Atlanta would have won several world series under the pre-1969 and even under the pre-1996 rules, but now it is just a lottery where the regular season means little or nothing.

One commenter has brought up the scheduling changes due to intra-division play. I understand about the scheduling changes, which are another unfair change, particularly to the Mets, but understandable to let some inter-league rivalries take place. The differences in the records here seem significant enough to offset that.

If winning 12 more games in the regular season does not make you better, then why not let all the teams in the post-season?

Two games is not any kind of representative sample upon which anyone can make conclusions. If the Dodgers took two easy games in a row at Wrigley in July, people wouldn't bat an eye. I think I have seen articles that say that it would take 8-10 games to be somewhat statistically reliable, it is certainly more than three games.

The NFL and NBA play-offs are much more statistically sound and I don't think anyone denies that. Hockey is somewhat less so but still more than baseball.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/sports/baseball/03cubs.html?em

1 comment:

Marshall said...

I think professional baseball overreached in attempting to include more teams in the post-season. I agree that the odds of winning more games than your opponents in a 162-game regular season far outweigh the odds of winning a short series. As you observe, three good pitchers would do it. Get some lucky hits and you're in. Thus when inferior teams as judged by the standards of the regular season make it through to the World Series it delegitimizes the game for themselves as well as for their vanquished opponents.