Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Buster Olney Shares His Thoughts with TSWD

In an exclusive interview a tweet with Talkin Sox With Dan, ESPN’s Buster Olney shared his thoughts concerning the biggest flaw with Major League Baseball’s new playoff system.

I haven’t been on Twitter that long, but so far, I like it. Right now, I only follow a handful of friends, national reporters, and some local beat guys for the Sox. It at least gives you the opportunity to interact with people, like Buster, whom you would never normally get the chance to meet. At the same time, I’ve tweeted to Buster on several occasions and never received a response. It’s safe to say that there is less traffic on his Twitter feed at 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday. But hey, I’ll take a response any way I can get it.

So here is the transcript of my in-depth conversation with Buster.

Riveting. I know.

But Buster hits on an important issue regarding the new playoff format. As you probably now by now, there will be a Wild Card team added to each league. In other words, the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox could all conceivably get in the tournament in 2012. The two Wild Card winners will face off in a one game playoff. After the Wild Card round, the Division Series will adopt a 2-3 format, which is curious to say the least. Since the late 90’s, MLB has used the common 2-2-1 format. The team with the better record will now open the Division Series on the road. In both formats, the team with the higher seed hosts Game 5, if necessary. However, I would think that the team with the lower seed, if given the option, would rather have the first two games in their house rather than games three and four. Therefore, it is a disadvantage to the team with the higher seed.

As Buster points out in his tweet, the 2-3 format is temporary. It is in place this year to avoid scheduling conflicts. In 2013, Major League Baseball will revert back to the 2-2-1 format.

I am a fan of the new playoff system. It adds intrigue and places a ton of pressure on teams to win their respective divisions. No one wants to play a one game playoff. However, it is fair to question why Major League Baseball did not wait a year to introduce the new system.

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7 thoughts on “Buster Olney Shares His Thoughts with TSWD

  1. Overall I like the new format…just hope that we never get a scenario where there’s a one game playoff to see what team gets into the one game playoff

  2. Pat, thanks for writing. I like it too. There’s going to be flaws with every format. At this point, it’s about trying to decide which flaws are worse than the others. Baseball has a vested interest in preserving the importance of the regular season. Out of the four major sports, baseball still allows the least number of teams into the tournament. I’m in love with the idea of placing more importance on winning the division. Let’s take 2012 with a grain of salt and evaluate the system after 2013.

  3. I think you would find that AL East fan’s are primarily more in favor of the new playoff system than the rest of MLB, for obvious reasons.

    Overall is it worth letting a team that wins 9 games in September for example, into the playoffs to play the better WC team that possibly earned it more and for one game?

    Don’t get me wrong it helps the Sox, Yanks and Rays more than anyone in MLB, and I like that part of it.

    The argument of the Higher seed, Division winner, is one that could go around in circles for days. My view is that it puts even more (especially after 2012) emphasis on winning the division, yes. But does that entitle the divsion winner to have an immediate advantage when their playoff series starts? No clean slate as its been in the playoffs where anything can happen? By this I mean the two WC teams most likely using their top pitchers to advance, leaving them cripped in their rotation from the start, VS the divsion winner.

    Also, so long to the exciting one game playoffs that happen every so often, making it worth watching and talking about for days prior. Sure, we’ll have those 1 gamers now every year, but they will quickly lose their essance.

  4. Ryan on said:

    Hate the new format. I could go on and on about the flaws. I literally see no upside to it at all.

    If they really want to reward the division winner, here’s what I’d do. Keep the 3 division winners and the wild card team. The top team faces the wild card regardless if they come from the same division. The other 2 division winners face off in a normal 2-2-1 playoff series. The series with the wild card team however will be a 2-1-2 series with the wild card team getting just the 1 home game. Not only does it hurt the wild card team for not winning their division but it also rewards the top team in the league for finishing with the best record in the league. Now teams have more incentive to win the division and the division leaders have a little extra to play for at the end of the year as well.

    Or if they really want to be radical have the wild card team start their first series in an 0-1 hole. Make them win 3 out of 4.

  5. “Overall is it worth letting a team that wins 9 games in September for example, into the playoffs to play the better WC team that possibly earned it more and for one game?” —I’m not sure I understand, Joe. Because a team has a bad month at the end of the season, that makes them less worthy than a team that plays mediocre all year?

    Ryan, I think your views on the new format is a bit strong, but I like your idea about 2-1-2. However, travel restrictions would certainly prevent that. Unless there was a sweep, the two teams would travel twice, whereas a 2-2-1 series at least places the odds in favor of only having to hop on a plane once.

    For both you and Joe, I can understand why you would oppose the new format. I believe that there needed to be a change in the system. Teams like the Red Sox would openly state that they would prefer to have their team healthy, rested, and pitcher aligned and enter the dance as the Wild Card team rather than push for the division. Similarly, Brian Cashman said the same thing during/after the 2010 playoff push. The Yankees conceded the division to TB, choosing health and rest over the division crown.

    When that starts to happen, there needs to be a change. Again, are there flaws in the new format? Absolutely? Is it the best format? Probably not. But I do think a change was necessary. Baseball is still able to say that it lets the least amount of teams into the playoffs out of the four major sports, there is some sort of punishment for WC teams, and it will generate a lot of money for baseball.

  6. Ryan on said:

    I understand travel being an issue but the travel is much worse with the new system. Most likely every year the second wild card team will be playing 3 consecutive games against 3 different teams in 3 different cities if it wants to win the World Series (Game 162, Wild Card Game, Game 1 of LDS). Even worse is if there is a tie atop the division. Now, depending on a coin flip or two, a team will be playing Game 162, travel to play Division Tiebreaker, Travel (possibly cross country) for Wild Card Game, Travel (possibly cross country again) for Game 1 of LDS. That team is now playing in 4 games against 4 teams and has been in 4 cities all before a pitch has been thrown in game 1 of the LDS! That’s DOA right there.

    I understand wanting to reward the division winner while making it harder for the WC team I just think there are infinite better ways to do so. It’s watering down the playoffs. If this was in place as recent as 2001, the 1 game elimination would be between 101-win Oakland and 85-win Minnesota. That’s ridiculous. And it will happen again too. Maybe not as drastic as 101/85, but still. I understand tiebreakers but baseball just isn’t meant to be decided in 1 game.

  7. Ryan’s right on the money. Couldn’t agree more.

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