Wednesday, October 7

MLB Playoff Preview

Psych! I'm not going to preview the MLB playoffs as long as the qualifying format remains as unfair as it currently is. As Rob Neyer writes, teams with big dollars are doing great this year, and the less-fortunate financial teams are tired of it, writes Tom Van Riper.

I think it sucks, too. Look at the AL qualifiers: Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Twins. With the exception of AL Central Roulette, it's the same fucking teams every year. NL too - Phillies, Dodgers, and whoever wins the Cardinal/Cub sweepstakes. The teams that can spend the most make the playoffs, with a few exceptions here and there for fun. Execs talk about Moneyball and how small-market teams can make it, and occasionally they can with well-above-average management, but the overwhelming number of playoff spaces go to the big spenders. As good as everyone likes to feel about a Tampa Bay or Minnesota crashing the party, the fact that it's so celebrated should give you a clue about how statistically unlikely it is to happen.

How is this OK with everyone? This sport loses a lot of its legitimacy because of the unfairness of its playoff structure, and the powers in charge don't seem to care. As long as they're making money, this will continue to be the case. What's interesting is how much ink the steroid scandals of the past get, as compared to the game's competitive imbalance. Fans don't give a fuck about steroids. That's yesterday's news. Don't. Care. Sorry, Mark Fainaru-Wada, it's over. Guys from every team used them, home runs were hit, records were inflated. Got it. Now we care about our teams having a chance to win. That's what's important.

For fun, here are rankings of MLB's 30 teams by payroll. Look who's in the postseason: yankees (1st), red socks (4th), phillies (7th), dodgers (9th), angels (6th), tigers (5th), cardinals (13th). The Rockies (18th) and Twins (24th) were the only small-market teams in the running - everyone else has the loot. The Indians, for the record, were 15th, despite Cleveland's small market.

The Twins are my obvious favorite in the AL. I'm totally indifferent to the NL - Rockies, I suppose. Now if you'll excuse me, I have football to watch.

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