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Sunday, October 29, 2006

 

Wild Card Musings

Reportedly, Major League Baseball is worried that the Wild Card teams are doing too well in the playoffs. True enough, wild cards have done as well as any other position in the pecking order recently. This year, the wild card Tigers got through the AL playoffs and for some reason, were made strong favorites in the World Series. I considered the Cards at least even money, therefore a good bet, to beat the Tigers. People forgot how mediocre Detroit was the second half, blinded by their 7 game run through the Yankees and the overrated Athletics.

Suggestions for "solutions" to the wild card success problem seem to come down to giving them no home games in the first round. This is a ridiculous idea. In fact, the whole concept makes no sense. If you want the wild card to be eliminated before the World Series, just don't have one! Instead, return each league to two seven or 8 team divisions, and just have the pennant winners play 4 out of 7 to determine the league champion. That would be the proper way to treat a deserving champion over a 162 game season. It would also get things over a week earlier, avoiding some of winter's chill. How silly were some of those winter get - ups players and fans were wearing during the World Series?

Of course, Baseball will never go in that direction, since eliminating the LDS round would be too costly. It's all about the money you know. So there will continue to be a Wild Card, and that means that Wild Cards will continue to win their share of series. The fact is, a short series of 3 out of 5, or 4 out of 7 for that matter, is almost a random event. Baseball is not like football where the better team almost always wins a playoff game, or basketball and hockey where the better team can be counted on to win a 7 game series. That's why Yankee fans sound so stupid lamenting the 2006 season or complaining about Joe Torre. They had a great year, and the fact that they lost in the playoffs doesn't change the fact that they were arguably the best team in the AL and that Torre did his best job, considering all of the injuries and the marginal pitching staff he had to work with.

Another thing - it's time to stop all this talk about the AL being the superior league. Yes, their game is different because of the DH, and AL teams usually have one more bopper in the lineup as a result. But NL teams play better small ball and run more. So each League does some things better, and though the AL has had more recent success interleague, this is just one of those phases like the NFL goes through, where the Conferences alternate being stronger over a period of years.

All in all, Baseball had a great year, and there is not much I would change, notwithstanding my earlier comments about eliminating Wild Cards and the LDS. For us Mets fans, it was a revelation. The Mets were consistently fun to watch, and you can see that the organization's brain trust really knows what they are doing. I suspect we will have a competitive team in Flushing for a long time.

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On 10/23, I bought 200 NG at 15.10 for the taxable account. On 10/25, I took another taxable gain, selling 600 CNRD at 3.90, originally purchased on 8/23/04 for 2.19.

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