Incorrect thought spotted in Zorn column | Bleader

Monday, October 7, 2013

Incorrect thought spotted in Zorn column

Posted By on 10.07.13 at 10:44 AM

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The Cleveland Indians, losers of a wild-card baseball game
  • AP Photo/Tony Dejak
  • The Cleveland Indians, losers of a wild-card baseball game

Eric Zorn laid out a proposal "to fix the broken baseball playoff system," and it is unwise . . .

"Baseball's one-game play-in for each league's two wild-card teams is too random a way to determine which team gets to advance," Zorn declared in the Tribune Sunday and on his blog site. "Single games can have utterly flukey results." He's right about that. The teams with the best records in baseball this season—the Red Sox and Cardinals—won three out of every five games. In baseball, victory never comes anywhere close to being guaranteed.

But then Zorn went on to tout his friend Tim Roznowski's plan that Zorn called "far better and more fair."

The wild-card teams play a 2 out of 3 series and the winner plays the team with the best record in the league in a 3 out of 5 series. The other two division champs play a 4 out of 7 series. That way the team with the best record has to win three games to get to the League Championship Series, the other division champs have to win four games and the wild cards have to win five games.

This is a bad idea, and it's bad for the reason Zorn already acknowledged: the shorter the series, the likelier a flukey result. The team that has to win only three games to advance also has to lose only three games to be eliminated. You would never penalize the team with the best record by making it play a one-game series. So how is a five-game series a reward?

The longer a series is—the more likely the better team will win it.

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