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Division Series A or Division Series B?


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#1 Guest_Corsi Combover_*

Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:19 AM

That's because, The Post has learned, the AL regular-season champion will be given the choice of whether to play Division Series A, in which the if-necessary five games are scheduled to be played in seven days beginning on Thurs, Oct. 4; or in Division Series B, in which the five games are scheduled to be played in eight days.

The seven-day series features two sets of back-to-back games, with off-days for travel scheduled between Games 2 and 3 and between Games 4 and 5. The eight-day series features only one set of back-to-back games (Games 3 and 4), with off-days scheduled between Games 1 and 2, another between Games 2 and 3, and still another between Games 4 and 5.

Yes, of course, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona are foremost concerned with their own Boston team. But is it such a stretch to think that the Red Sox, who went into last night leading the Angels by 2½ and the Indians by 3½ for the league's best record, wouldn't jump at the chance to play the eight-day series if for no other reason than to require the Yankees to play the seven-day series so Joba Chamberlain would only be available for three games, instead of the four in which he'd be allowed to pitch in the extended version?

Do you think if the Angels catch Boston, there's a chance in the world they won't force the Yankees into the seven-day series in order to limit Chamberlain's availability to pitch against them in what would be the first-round matchup?

This policy was implemented by Major League Baseball after consultation with the Players Association, according to an e-mail to The Post from the MLB communications office, in an effort to provide greater reward to the regular-season champion beyond the simple one-game, home-field advantage that's barely proven an advantage at all generically, and has proven to be no advantage whatsoever lately to the Yankees.

A directive outlining the procedure was sent to major league general managers within the last two weeks, we're told. The team with the best record is required to make its decision within an hour after the Division Series matchups are established.

Source: http://www.nypost.co...yoffproblem.htm

#2 Foxy42

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:35 AM

I think this would mean:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

Series B:
Game 1 – Wednesday Oct 3rd
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

The Series B teams could start their 1 & 2 pitchers twice on 4 days rest. While the Series A teams could only get a second start out of their # 1.

If we faced CLE, who is heavily weighted to their 1 & 2 (Sabathia, Carmona), I think we’d rather take option A. The ALDS is a crapshoot. I think Theo would see it this way and worry about the Sox and not trying to set up the Yankees to have to impose the ‘Jaba’ rules…

edited: changed Series B to Wed start. Pitching matchup flexibility stays the same as original post.

Edited by Foxy42, 11 September 2007 - 09:56 AM.


#3 BigMike


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:41 AM

So the Red Sox are so obsessed with the Yankees, and so terrified of Joba that they would make their divisional choice simply to limit Joba's innings?????

Assuming the Red Sox finish first. I am quite sure Theo and Tito will make the decision entirely based on what they believe will give the Red Sox the best chance of winning

#4 RedOctober3829


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:44 AM

I think this would mean:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

Series B:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Saturday Oct 6th
Game 3 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 4 – Tuesday Oct 9th
Game 5 – Thursday Oct 11th

The Series B teams could start their 1 & 2 pitchers twice on 4 days rest. While the Series A teams could only get a second start out of their # 1.

If we faced CLE, who is heavily weighted to their 1 & 2 (Sabathia, Carmona), I think we’d rather take option A. The ALDS is a crapshoot. I think Theo would see it this way and worry about the Sox and not trying to set up the Yankees to have to impose the ‘Jaba’ rules…

The best choice would definetly be choice A. The winning team would get an extra day of rest if both series went 5 games. But, if Dice-K keeps struggling like he has been I would have to look at series B because you can throw your #2(Schilling) twice.

#5 DeltaForce

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:49 AM

I think this would mean:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

Series B:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Saturday Oct 6th
Game 3 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 4 – Tuesday Oct 9th
Game 5 – Thursday Oct 11th

The Series B teams could start their 1 & 2 pitchers twice on 4 days rest. While the Series A teams could only get a second start out of their # 1.

If we faced CLE, who is heavily weighted to their 1 & 2 (Sabathia, Carmona), I think we’d rather take option A. The ALDS is a crapshoot. I think Theo would see it this way and worry about the Sox and not trying to set up the Yankees to have to impose the ‘Jaba’ rules…

Series B begins on Wednesday, and runs Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday: Link. So, there's no extra rest day between that series and the ALCS.

That's very interesting that the "#1 seed" gets to choose its series. With Anaheim and Boston presumably being helped by a compressed series, and New York and Cleveland presumably being helped by a spread-out series, I tend to agree that the Sox (IF they end up with the best record) would have to at least consider choosing the compressed series if Cleveland is the opponent. Heck, they may want to consider it against Anaheim too; given that Boston's drop-off is between the #1 starter and everyone else, and given that Anaheim's isn't, you'd think the Sox don't really care whether anyone other than Beckett gets to start twice.

Edited by DeltaForce, 11 September 2007 - 09:50 AM.


#6 Foxy42

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 09:57 AM

Updated Series B dates (also edited above):

Series B:
Game 1 – Wednesday Oct 3rd
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

#7 mt8thsw9th


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:03 AM

Assuming the Red Sox finish first. I am quite sure Theo and Tito will make the decision entirely based on what they believe will give the Red Sox the best chance of winning


Going beyond this, teams have recently complained about the format of a best of 5, and while I don't think making the first round should be made longer, why doesn't the AL and NL's best team get a choice of the non-division foe they get to face? There hasn't been much advantage, particularly for the Yankees (who have been vocal in the past about how unfair such a short series is, as has Billy Beane with his "crapshoot" comments) drawing the Angels 2 out of 4 years. While the best of 5 nullifies some of the advantage the team with the best record has, the reward of being able to choose your first round opponent should at least squelch some of the complaints.

#8 William Robertson

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:07 AM

Doesn't it seem strange and somewhat unfair to announce in the middle of September something that could have such a potential impact? Seems like something to announce before the season begins. Am I missing something?

Beyond that, I would say beware the law of unintended consequences. Over-thinking could lead to odd results.

#9 smastroyin


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:20 AM

Doesn't it seem strange and somewhat unfair to announce in the middle of September something that could have such a potential impact? Seems like something to announce before the season begins. Am I missing something?

Beyond that, I would say beware the law of unintended consequences. Over-thinking could lead to odd results.


Just because the post found out about this last week doesn't mean the teams haven't known for a while.

#10 Bucknahs Bum Ankle


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:26 AM

Taking the revised series schedule that Foxy posted above and adding in the starting pitching rotation on 4 days rest looks like this:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thursday Oct 4th - #1
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th - #2
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th - #3
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th - #4
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th - #1 (5 days rest) or #2 (4 days rest)

Series B:
Game 1 – Wednesday Oct 3rd - #1
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th - #2
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th - #3
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th -#1 (4 days rest)
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th - #2 (4 days rest)

Other than the potential benefit of using both your #1 and #2 pitcher twice (and avoiding having to use a #4), I think the other thing to look at is how the pitchers lineup coming into the series. For the Red Sox, if Beckett had to pitch on the second to last day of the regular season 9/29 (highly unlikely), they might opt for Series A to use him as the #1 on 4 days rest. Of course they would also need to look at the opponents pitching and if it's Cleveland and Sabathia or Carmona pitched on 9/29 or 9/30 (also unlikely), they might opt for Series B to put them at a disadvantage. But IMO if they draw Cleveland, the Red Sox would most likely opt. for Series A to prevent them pitching both Sabathia and Carmona twice (assuming they would be lined up that way).

Edited by Bucknahs Bum Ankle, 11 September 2007 - 10:30 AM.


#11 Harry Agganis

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:29 AM

So the Red Sox are so obsessed with the Yankees, and so terrified of Joba that they would make their divisional choice simply to limit Joba's innings?????


Since it is a NY post article I think in their Yankee centric world they believe everybody is terrified by Joba.

#12 86spike


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:33 AM

Does anyone really think that the 'Joba Rules' (gag) won't be tweaked for October if they need to be?

That NY Post writer is a retard. Teams won't be makign strategy decision based on trying to limit a rookie pitcher's innings... no matter how good he's been.

#13 Pumpsie


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:36 AM

The biggest issue with the postseason is the five game opening series. Should be seven. They play 162 games to get 8 teams and then wipe out half of them in five games. Stupid. That's like the NHL and NBA playing opening round three game series.

#14 Eric Van


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:37 AM

I think this would mean:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thurday Oct 4th
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

Series B:
Game 1 – Wednesday Oct 3rd
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th

The Series B teams could start their 1 & 2 pitchers twice on 4 days rest. While the Series A teams could only get a second start out of their # 1.

Note also that there is an extra day of rest in the ALCS (which starts on the 12th) between games 4 and 5.

So if a team goes 1-2-3-1-2 in a Series B, the rotation for the ALCS (if the ALDS goes 5) is

3-1-2-4-1-2-3.

If they play a Series A and go 1-2-3-4-1, then in the ALCS it's

2-3-1-4-2-1-3

Which give you the matchups (3 v. 2, 1 v. 3, 2 v. 1, 4 v. 4, an so on.)

For a team that considers its 1 and 2 as more or less equal aces and its 3 and 4 as lesser lights, there's not much of a difference in the ALCS depending on whether they picked A or B. But if a team has a clear ace and a lesser #2, then playing Series A means he's matched up twice against the other team's 2, while playing Series B means he matches up once against 3 and once against 2.

Of course, this all changes if either series ends in 3 or 4.

#15 gcapalbo

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 11:23 AM

I would prefer that all of the series were scheduled equally without this disparity.

But they're not.

If I were in the position to make the decision, I'd pick the series matchup that benefitted my team most. I could care less about Joba Chamberlain. You'd think this guy was Hideki Okajima or something.

If you assume for a moment that Matsuzaka will not be a negative factor (i.e. he gets some rest before the end of the season and gets it figured out) then the obvious choice is to take the shorter series, as the strength of our bullpen and staff will carry the day.

Choosing the longer series with more off days built in is a two edged sword. You're obviously giving a team with a weaker staff a chance to be stronger by pitching their 1-2 twice as well.

Even if Matsuzaka continues to have issues we have the bullpen depth to prevail.

I'd choose 'A'.

#16 glennhoffmania


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 11:59 AM

Taking the revised series schedule that Foxy posted above and adding in the starting pitching rotation on 4 days rest looks like this:

Series A:
Game 1 – Thursday Oct 4th - #1
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th - #2
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th - #3
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th - #4
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th - #1 (5 days rest) or #2 (4 days rest)

Series B:
Game 1 – Wednesday Oct 3rd - #1
Game 2 – Friday Oct 5th - #2
Game 3 – Sunday Oct 7th - #3
Game 4 – Monday Oct 8th -#1 (4 days rest)
Game 5 – Wed Oct 10th - [b]#2 (4 days rest)


The question I'd have is whether, assuming he's the #4, Tito would put Wake in the pen under option B. That would be my preference since it would pretty much suck if the bad Wake showed up in the first inning of a potential elimination game. If he plans to start Wake either way, then option A would be preferable.

#17 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 12:17 PM

Is Wake necessarily the #4, or is Dice-K? At this point, I'm not sure who'd I have more confidence in.

I'd assume the Sox go Beckett and Schilling 1-2?

#18 glennhoffmania


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 12:35 PM

Is Wake necessarily the #4, or is Dice-K? At this point, I'm not sure who'd I have more confidence in.

I'd assume the Sox go Beckett and Schilling 1-2?


Yeah that's the question. Today, I'd say it's pretty close. I guess I'm being optimistic that Dice-K can get his shit together in the next three weeks, and I've never read anything about whether he can work out of the pen.

And since Lester can't work out of the pen, does that mean he's off the roster or is he an option for game 4?

#19 trekfan55


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 01:50 PM

As it stands, series B is a clear disadvantage to the Sox unless the team they face could not align their rotation. The Indians and the Angels, however, are now running away with their divisions so it seems unlikely that either team will not have their #1 pitcher available for Game 1.

As for the Sox, in another thread it has been mentioned that Beckett's last schedules start is Sep. 27th so he would align perfectly no matter what to be the Game 1 starter. The main problem is that the Sox don't currently have a clear #2.

I would avoid Series B because it would set up a matchup of either Lackey/Escobar twice or Sabathia/Carmona twice.

If Detroit pulls it off and wins the WC then it's a different story.

So, regardless of the disadvantage of using a tired/worn down DiceK once, it's almost an impossible matchup with Series B.

BTW, I understand that the team that gets to choose its series is the one with HFA, and at this moment, that is hardly a sure thing for the Sox. The question then becomes, would the Indians/Angels, had HFA and faced the Yanks, would they choose Series A and limit Joba's appearances? (thereby removing a weapon from Torre) or Series B so as to have their 2 aces pitch two games each?

#20 paulftodd


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:27 PM

Assuming the standings remain as they do, I think we match up well with both the Angels (6-4) and Indians (5-2). I imagine Theo and crew would prefer to avoid the Yankees in the ALCS although this is my preferred match up, and the Angels match up well with the Yankees (6-3). The Yankees have owned the Indians this year (6-0). No brainer, they go for the Indians and the shorter flight.

#21 Bowlerman9


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:32 PM

Assuming the standings remain as they do, I think we match up well with both the Angels (6-4) and Indians (5-2). I imagine Theo and crew would prefer to avoid the Yankees in the ALCS although this is my preferred match up, and the Angels match up well with the Yankees (6-3). The Yankees have owned the Indians this year (6-0). No brainer, they go for the Indians and the shorter flight.


We dont get to pick our opponent.

#22 cannonball 1729

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 12:25 AM

BTW, I understand that the team that gets to choose its series is the one with HFA, and at this moment, that is hardly a sure thing for the Sox. The question then becomes, would the Indians/Angels, had HFA and faced the Yanks, would they choose Series A and limit Joba's appearances? (thereby removing a weapon from Torre) or Series B so as to have their 2 aces pitch two games each?

I have to imagine that for the Indians/Angels, the upside of having Escobar or Carmona pitch a second time for seven innings or so is far more significant than the downside of having Joba pitch an extra inning or two.

We dont get to pick our opponent.

Too bad. I was hoping we could pick the Orioles.

Edited by cannonball 1729, 12 September 2007 - 12:36 AM.


#23 bellyofthebeast

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 12:54 AM

I think this new twist is great news for the Sox!

Take the long series and make whoever match up. Depth is the Sox strength. If your not happy with Dice-K or Wake of late, I hear you! But Byrd and Westbrook don't scare me much either!

Edited by bellyofthebeast, 12 September 2007 - 12:57 AM.


#24 paulftodd


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 04:40 AM

We dont get to pick our opponent.


We do if we finish with the best record in the AL, check the link at the start of the thread.

#25 Dan Murfman

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 05:50 AM

No they don't get to pick the opponent they get to pick whether they want to play Series A or Series B. The opponent will be determined by the records. If MFY's win the wildcard and the Sox wind up with the best record they will play the division winner with the worst record.

#26 Bowlerman9


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 07:12 AM

We do if we finish with the best record in the AL, check the link at the start of the thread.


Seriously dude, thats not what it says. Thats not something that would ever be implemented in baseball. Wow.

#27 RedOctober3829


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 07:15 AM

We do if we finish with the best record in the AL, check the link at the start of the thread.

Dude, if we finish 1st we pick the series schedule we want, not the opponent.

#28 William Robertson

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 07:33 AM

Seriously dude, thats not what it says. Thats not something that would ever be implemented in baseball. Wow.


Indeed. But if they decided they really wanted to motivate people to win every game, that might do it.

#29 Eric Van


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 08:01 AM

I have to imagine that for the Indians/Angels, the upside of having Escobar or Carmona pitch a second time for seven innings or so is far more significant than the downside of having Joba pitch an extra inning or two.

The hilarious unmentioned thing about the original article was the belief that the difference between Joba Chamberlain and Luiz Vizcaino for a single IP over the course of a 5-game playoff series was a big factor.

Vizcaino has given up 0 ER in 38 of his last 44 appearances, so there's maybe a 10% chance that there's even a run of difference between the scenarios, or about a 1% chance of a game depending on it. Whereas the Indians can be expected to win 59% of Carmona's starts and 48% of Byrd's (everything else being average).

#30 86spike


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 08:14 AM

I think this new twist is great news for the Sox!

Take the long series and make whoever match up. Depth is the Sox strength. If your not happy with Dice-K or Wake of late, I hear you! But Byrd and Westbrook don't scare me much either!


It's the short series that creates the need to use 4 starters. The longer one allows both teams to use only 3.

Unless the Sox decide that they really don't want to expose both Daisuke and Wakefield (who are both question marks right now) in the ALDS... then the short series makes the most sense because it forces Anaheim/Cleveland to use their 3 and 4 starters (Weaver/Saunders or Byrd/Westbrook).

#31 glennhoffmania


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 08:55 AM

Why is this only being done in the AL?

#32 Dan Murfman

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 09:31 AM

Because in the NL the series are identical and the reason the AL is different is because of TV.

#33 DeltaForce

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 10:32 AM

Just for some history....

They have been doing this "Series A" and "Series B" stuff since 1996, the year after the playoffs expanded to three rounds. (In 1995, as I'm sure many remember, the networks played several playoff games simultaneously and offered "regional coverage" of such games).

Beginning in 1996, the league whose LDS was scheduled on the Wednesday rather than the Tuesday would have one of its series actually begin on Tuesday (and then go Thursday-Sat-Sun-Tue), so the TV networks would not to have to accommodate four playoff games on the Wednesday.

From 1996-2003, the leagues alternated which LDS would begin later -- the AL had the "Series A/B" issue in the odd years, the NL in the even years. From 2004-06, the NL has been the later-starting league, and thus the league with the "Series A/B" issue, presumably to give the AL champion an extra day to prepare to host World Series game 1. This year, while the AL Champion will host World Series Game 1, the AL is back to being the later-starting league -- I presume that, because there's now an extra off-day between the end of the last potential LCS game and the first game of the World Series, there's no need for any particular league to start early or late. So, we can assume that the leagues will again alternate going forward, with the NL having to deal with the "Series A/Series B" stuff next year.

One thing I always found interesting: I have never seen an official statement from MLB announcing any rule for which of the two division series would be "Series A" as opposed to "Series B," but, in every single year since 1997, "Series B" (the more spread-out series) has involved two division champions; the Wild Card has been in the more compressed series.

Edited by DeltaForce, 12 September 2007 - 10:35 AM.


#34 joyofsox


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 12:22 PM

Why is this only being done in the AL?

It will be done in the NL in 2008, with the top NL team getting the choice.

#35 FenwayWhalers


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 04:22 PM

Sort of relating
In the ALCS- how does it work for home team (better record?)

Is it game 1, 2, 6, 7 at home?

#36 DeltaForce

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 04:24 PM

Sort of relating
In the ALCS- how does it work for home team (better record?)

Is it game 1, 2, 6, 7 at home?

Yes. The only change in the LCS format is there's now an off day between games 4 and 5. But the format is still 2-3-2.

#37 paulftodd


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 06:05 PM

Seriously dude, thats not what it says. Thats not something that would ever be implemented in baseball. Wow.


Ok, I stand corrected. But it would be a much better incentive for having the best record, to be able to pick the team to play in the first round. 50 years ago ago the concept of a DH or having 4 teams in the playoffs to determine who goes into the World Series after playing 162 games also seemed remote. In some playoff formats the team with the best record does not even have to play the first round of the playoffs, it's called a bye. If you have to play the first round despite having the best record after 162 games, then whats the big deal about picking your opponent from among those teams qualified for the playoffs

It's not like the current system is that great. We finish with the best record and can not play the team with the 4th best record if that team happened to be in our division and instead have to play the team with the 3rd best record (theoretically a better team). In this case, of course that is not the case, but the entire playoff system, unbalanced schedule, etc is already so ludicrous, that having the team with the best record picking the team to face in the first round actually is an improvement.

#38 DeltaForce

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 07:58 AM

Ok, I stand corrected. But it would be a much better incentive for having the best record, to be able to pick the team to play in the first round. 50 years ago ago the concept of a DH or having 4 teams in the playoffs to determine who goes into the World Series after playing 162 games also seemed remote. In some playoff formats the team with the best record does not even have to play the first round of the playoffs, it's called a bye. If you have to play the first round despite having the best record after 162 games, then whats the big deal about picking your opponent from among those teams qualified for the playoffs

It's not like the current system is that great. We finish with the best record and can not play the team with the 4th best record if that team happened to be in our division and instead have to play the team with the 3rd best record (theoretically a better team). In this case, of course that is not the case, but the entire playoff system, unbalanced schedule, etc is already so ludicrous, that having the team with the best record picking the team to face in the first round actually is an improvement.

With respect, I disagree with almost everything in this post.

First of all, at least from a PR perspective, no professional team would want to be put in the position of having to expressly choose its opponent. There's a reason that, when any player or coach in any sport is asked who they want to play in the next round of the playoffs, they always say they don't care.

As for "best record" driving HFA in baseball, that's a creation of the last 10 years. Pre-1969, the team with the best record from each league met in the World Series, but HFA in that series simply alternated --- the team with the better record did not have HFA. During the two-division era, HFA also alternated between divisions. (I'll add that, in a 2-3-2 format, "HFA" is not all that meaningful anyway.)

As for the alleged unfairness of the "best" team playing someone other than the "fourth-best" team in the first round . . . I don't see the problem. The current system's greatest improvement over the 1969-93 system is that the new system guarantees that (1) the two best teams in the league would make the playoffs, and (2) those two teams can't meet before the LCS. Under the two-division format, you had teams like the 103-win Giants of 1993, the 96-win Blue Jays of 1987, the 97-win Yankees of 1985, the 95-win Brewers of 1979, the 99-win Red Sox of 1978, the 98-win Reds of 1974, the 95-win Dodgers of 1973, among many others. Each of these teams was easily one of the two best teams in its league that year, but didn't make the playoffs because they were in the wrong division. If you're going to have playoffs, make sure at a minimum that the two best teams are there. And this format not only does that, but it ensures (or, at least it has ensured for the past decade) that the two best teams don't play each other in the first round.

Also, I think the "best overall record" stuff is a little overrated. Once a team has sewn up its division, its focus has traditionally shifted to getting healthy, setting up its postseason rotation, etc. Now, with some of the HFA incentives, there's more reason to keep your foot on the gas. That's fine to an extent, but I see no need for even more incentives.

I do agree that the unbalanced schedules create distortions, particularly for the wild card (if two teams play dramatically different schedules, who's to say that a 93-69 team is any better than a 92-70 team?) So, this isn't great; on the other hand, it's impossible to achieve true "balance" given the nature of the sport --- playing Baltimore three times means one thing if you're facing Bedard and Guthrie, and something altogether different if you're facing the minor-league rotation they're now featuring. But I agree that they should more toward a more balanced schedule. On the other hand, football is way worse, and nobody complains.

#39 rmurph3

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:51 AM

One thing I always found interesting: I have never seen an official statement from MLB announcing any rule for which of the two division series would be "Series A" as opposed to "Series B," but, in every single year since 1997, "Series B" (the more spread-out series) has involved two division champions; the Wild Card has been in the more compressed series.


I don't have a link handy, but I'm pretty sure the choice was made by Fox, and their decision was generally made with the sole focus on ratings, a.ka. keeping as many NYY ALDS games in prime-time as possible (in the AL years). Games 1-2 of Series A have traditionally been prime-time games, with series B starting on the afternoon before Game 2 of Series A.

#40 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 13 September 2007 - 11:18 AM

As for the alleged unfairness of the "best" team playing someone other than the "fourth-best" team in the first round . . . I don't see the problem. The current system's greatest improvement over the 1969-93 system is that the new system guarantees that (1) the two best teams in the league would make the playoffs, and (2) those two teams can't meet before the LCS. Under the two-division format, you had teams like the 103-win Giants of 1993, the 96-win Blue Jays of 1987, the 97-win Yankees of 1985, the 95-win Brewers of 1979, the 99-win Red Sox of 1978, the 98-win Reds of 1974, the 95-win Dodgers of 1973, among many others. Each of these teams was easily one of the two best teams in its league that year, but didn't make the playoffs because they were in the wrong division. If you're going to have playoffs, make sure at a minimum that the two best teams are there. And this format not only does that, but it ensures (or, at least it has ensured for the past decade) that the two best teams don't play each other in the first round.

I am not sure I follow your logic. The best way to ensure that the two best teams are in the playoffs is to have everyone make the playoffs. Is that really your goal? There is a tradeoff everytime you invite another team. By the examples that you use, you believe that regular season record is the best indicator (or only indicator) of team quality. If you believe this to be true, how does inviting more teams to the playoffs help?

Also, with an unbalanced schedule, I don't agree that the best teams are easily determined by regular season record. The late 1970s Royals were great teams, always played the Yankees and Red Sox tough (usually beating them in the season series), and might have been favored had they played the Red Sox in 1978.

The playoffs are kind of a crap shoot. The more teams you invite, the less likely that the winner is going to actually be the best team. Picking which division series you play is just another thing for people like us (including me, alas) to stress out about.

But I agree that they should more toward a more balanced schedule. On the other hand, football is way worse, and nobody complains.

As long as football fans can still gamble, no one will ever complain about anything.

#41 paulftodd


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Posted 14 September 2007 - 04:41 AM

With respect, I disagree with almost everything in this post.


"Almost" takes away the sting. Thanks.

As for the alleged unfairness of the "best" team playing someone other than the "fourth-best" team in the first round . . . I don't see the problem. The current system's greatest improvement over the 1969-93 system is that the new system guarantees that (1) the two best teams in the league would make the playoffs, and (2) those two teams can't meet before the LCS. Under the two-division format, you had teams like the 103-win Giants of 1993, the 96-win Blue Jays of 1987, the 97-win Yankees of 1985, the 95-win Brewers of 1979, the 99-win Red Sox of 1978, the 98-win Reds of 1974, the 95-win Dodgers of 1973, among many others. Each of these teams was easily one of the two best teams in its league that year, but didn't make the playoffs because they were in the wrong division. If you're going to have playoffs, make sure at a minimum that the two best teams are there. And this format not only does that, but it ensures (or, at least it has ensured for the past decade) that the two best teams don't play each other in the first round.

Also, I think the "best overall record" stuff is a little overrated. Once a team has sewn up its division, its focus has traditionally shifted to getting healthy, setting up its postseason rotation, etc. Now, with some of the HFA incentives, there's more reason to keep your foot on the gas. That's fine to an extent, but I see no need for even more incentives.


I will agree that having 4 teams in the playoffs does ensure the 2 best teams are in the playoffs (we could have done that with 2 divisions). Yet while you say the best overall record is overrated, you are making the case that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th records are important enough to determine who plays whom.

How do we define the best teams if not by W-L record. No choice there. But who better than the GM of the team with the best record in the league getting the chance to chose a team he feels is the 4th best team, regardless of the W-L record, factoring in quality of schedule, 2nd half performance, etc, as a reward for finishing with the best record. It also guarantees that the 2 best teams in the league have a"chance" to face each other in the ALCS. Key word is "chance" sinc e anything can happen in a 5 game series, if the ALCS was a 5 game series 2004 would have been a bad year.

I see nothing wrong with giving the team with the best record, since thats really the only thing we have to go on to judge the best team, the choice for which opponent they want to face. They certainly are not going to want to face the 2nd best team in the league, so you are going to ensure the 2 best teams do not face each other in the first round with the judgement being made with tools that are more substantial than a W-L record with an unbalanced schedule.

#42 Flynn4ever

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 07:52 AM

I see nothing wrong with giving the team with the best record, since thats really the only thing we have to go on to judge the best team, the choice for which opponent they want to face. They certainly are not going to want to face the 2nd best team in the league, so you are going to ensure the 2 best teams do not face each other in the first round with the judgement being made with tools that are more substantial than a W-L record with an unbalanced schedule.


We (assuming we have the best record) don't get the choice of opponents, just the choice of format (number of games in number of days.) Let's keep this point VERY CLEAR in all posts. I do see that you are using this hypothetically now, but you weren't earlier, and that could be confusing.

Edited by Flynn4ever, 14 September 2007 - 08:00 AM.


#43 The Napkin


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Posted 14 September 2007 - 10:00 AM

I don't have a link handy, but I'm pretty sure the choice was made by Fox, and their decision was generally made with the sole focus on ratings, a.ka. keeping as many NYY ALDS games in prime-time as possible (in the AL years). Games 1-2 of Series A have traditionally been prime-time games, with series B starting on the afternoon before Game 2 of Series A.

As long as we're sort of kind of talking about tv does anyone have TBS in HD yet or know when comcast is planning on adding it?

#44 DeltaForce

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 10:47 AM

I am not sure I follow your logic. The best way to ensure that the two best teams are in the playoffs is to have everyone make the playoffs. Is that really your goal? There is a tradeoff everytime you invite another team. By the examples that you use, you believe that regular season record is the best indicator (or only indicator) of team quality. If you believe this to be true, how does inviting more teams to the playoffs help?

Also, with an unbalanced schedule, I don't agree that the best teams are easily determined by regular season record. The late 1970s Royals were great teams, always played the Yankees and Red Sox tough (usually beating them in the season series), and might have been favored had they played the Red Sox in 1978.

My logic is basically as follows: Before 1969, there was no controversy; teams played essentially the same schedules, and the best team over 154 or 162 games won the pennant (and went on to play a team that was the best among an entirely different set of teams playing a wholly separate schedule).

The playoff system then came along and did something different; it pitted two teams that played largely overlapping schedules against each other, and thus introduced the possibility that the "best" team would not capture the pennant. All I was saying that, if you're going to do that, it would be good to have the two best regular-season teams in that playoff. I agree with you somewhat that it is not obvious who the "two best" are, given that the schedules were unbalanced, etc. But I think it's fair to say that there were years in which the second-best team was not one of the playoff entrants. I mentioned seven relatively clear examples (1993 SF, 1987 Tor, 1985 NYY, 1979 Mil, 1978 Bos, 1974 Cin, 1973 LA). The reason I mentioned those seven is that each of them finished at least six games ahead of one of the teams that made the playoffs. Heck, five of the seven (everyone but the '79 Brewers and '78 Sox) won the season series against the "weaker" division champ, and in 1979 and 1978, I don't think a serious case can be made that the Brewers weren't better than the Angels or that the Red Sox weren't better than the Royals (based on record + strength of division). None of this is really here or there; I didn't really think this playoff format was one that needed fixing.

My point was merely that, in a world of unbalanced schedules, etc., the present format is probably as good as we're going to get in ensuring that the "two best," however you want to measure it, are in the postseason without watering down the postseason too much (by, for example, having everyone make the postseason). And, in fact, the teams with the two best records --- imperfect a measure as that may be, given the differing schedules --- are placed on opposite sides of the playoff bracket. Of course, the tradeoff is that it is now even more unlikely that the "one best" captures the penant, but that's a path MLB started going down in 1969. Personally, I'd love to see baseball scrap divisions and return to the old pre-1969 format, but we know that's never going to happen.

#45 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 14 September 2007 - 11:02 AM

I understand where you are going with this DF. My concern is that if you extend the argument, in 10 years someone is going to suggest that (A) the problem with the current setup is that the best four teams in each league do not necessarily make the playoffs, so (B) the way to ensure that is to have eight teams from each league make the playoffs. I realize this is not what you are suggesting, but as a pre-emptive strike, it is important to point out that (A) is actually not the problem. :lol:

Of course, I know and you know that the goal of the post-season is not to get the best teams there. It is to create a great tournament. And, the more importance we place on the tournament, the less important the regular season is.

The argument against the 14-team league with no divisions (which I agree is never going to happen) is that too many of the teams will be out of the race half way through the year, and how can you sell a 13th place team? That is true, but in the old days there used to be money given to teams that finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and there was a real incentive to move up the standings. Every fan knew what place the team finished last year. Today, its basically playoffs (including wild card) or bust, and much of the regular season magic is gone.

#46 Eric Van


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Posted 16 September 2007 - 09:00 AM

I don't think this question has been asked: if the Angels end up with the best record, which series vs. the Yankees or Tigers do they pick?

#47 Tudor Fever

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 09:20 AM

I don't think this question has been asked: if the Angels end up with the best record, which series vs. the Yankees or Tigers do they pick?

Without analyzing it in depth, I would think Series B, the compressed series, against either of them, because the Angels have a relatively deep starting pitching corps and because the Angels have less of a drop-off than either the Yankees or Tigers do between the top two relievers and the rest of the bullpen.

However, there might be a scenario where the advantage of starting a day earlier on Wednesday would outweigh the above, for example if there's an exhausting race for the wild card with a one-game playoff on Monday, resulting in certain key pitchers of the winner being unavailable on Wednesday.

There is also a real possibility that the Indians would get the best record. For them, picking Series A would seem like a no-brainer because they could start Sabathia and Carmona on 4 days rest each.

Edited by Tudor Fever, 16 September 2007 - 09:20 AM.


#48 Eric Van


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Posted 19 September 2007 - 06:10 PM

Now that we're tied for the best overall record with both Cle and LAA, it's worth noting:

-- We won the HTH against both and would get first seed if either or both ties remain.

-- Cle and LAA split their HTH. Second tiebreaker within the division is divisional record and third tie-breaker is record in the last 81 games. It's unclear whether divisional record counts to break a tie between two clubs in different divisions, but it's moot, because the Indians would win either tie-breaker.

-- If the Yankees win the division, they won the HTH with Cle and lost to LAA.


To answer the question of which series the Angels would pick against the Yankees, it may depend on how potential game 4 guy Mussina pitches in his last couple of starts. Angels starter would almost certainly be Saunders, no matter how well Ervin Santana pitches in his last two starts, since the game would be on the road where Santana has been awful. Saunders hasn't faced NY this year but was killed in 2 starts last year.

#49 paulftodd


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Posted 19 September 2007 - 09:29 PM

Basically, now we have 4 teams in a race for the best record in the AL, and the MFY 1 1/2 games behind.

The only division not locked up is the East, and while all of us were hoping it could have been locked up, most of the next 9 games should mean something.

But wait, this assumes that the 2 teams competing for the East division title want it, and that the 4 teams competing of the best record, want it enough to try to win each game and not look ahead to the playoffs.

Theo and Tito coming out with their goal is to win the World Series in answer to questions about the division title implies that they may not try to win all of the next games if it would jeapordize their chances in the playoffs by burning guys out and what not, and I understand this to some extent.

This is a wake up call to MLB. They need to do something to make having the best record, and winning the division have meaning.

David Pinto has an article at BP, subscriber only, which has some suggestions, some of which have been discusssed in this thread.

http://www.baseballp...?articleid=6728

Recently, a reader brought up a good suggestion--allow the team with the best record in the league to choose its opponent. That team chooses between the Wild Card and the division winner with the lowest winning percentage. This would mean that the prohibition against playing a Wild Card from the same division disappears, but I don't really see where that hurts. Yes, you might not get a Yankees-Red Sox League Championship Series (LCS), but the odds of that happening in any given season are small anyway.


BTW I was not the reader who made the suggestion.

The other thing that could be done is to not allow the Wild Card team any home games in the LDS, only the LCS.

Meaning needs to be given to the Regular Season other than clinching one of 4 playoff spots. Sure HFA is an minor incentive, as ischosing Series A or Series B, but obviously not enough

#50 trekfan55


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Posted 20 September 2007 - 12:47 PM

Choosing series A or B is there because of the "quirky" schedule, and was added sort of as an afterthought. Moreover, it will alternate between leagues so that incentive, as bad or good as it may be, will not be there all the time.

So how about a bye? Maybe have 2 wild card teams face each other in either a best of 3 or even 1 game playoff while the division winners wait? That has a double edge, it gives division winners more time to rest, and at the same time the WC has to use their best pitcher and enters the LDS with a rotation disadvantage. In the NFL there are 3 tiers of playoffs before the Superbowl and the top 2 division winners get a 1st round bye, which has proven to be incredibly advantegous thorogh the years (yes I know that NE and IND both won as the road teams last year but that is mostly the exception). In baseball it would be near impossible, would baseball ever do something like ensure the top division winner gets an automatic spot in the LCS while it waits for 4 other teams (that would mean an extra wild card team) to slug it out in the LDS? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. But some tinkering should be done so that at least winning the division has some sort of advantage. As a Sox fan I am happy that the Sox won the WS in 2004 as a WC and relieved that even if they goof off in their remaining games they still should make the playoffs, but I can understand non Red Sox baseball fans for being pissed at the way the Sox are "backing into the playoffs" right now.

Edited by trekfan55, 20 September 2007 - 12:48 PM.