I've got a bunch of stuff that I hope to get posted today and tomorrow, in terms of talking one-game playoffs and matchups, and previews, but let's start with a podcast that I recorded on Friday with Daniel Shoptaw of the Cardinals' blog C70 (link to the show here). We talk quite a bit about how WHYGAVS started and what being a Pirate fan has been like for the last 20 years and what this year has been like, and so if that sounds interesting to you you should go check it out.
And yes, I somehow completely spaced on the Rob Mackowiak game as my favorite memory of the 20 years prior to this one. I dunno. It's kind of inexcusable.
TonyFrampton is right, technically, for insisting that the 1 game playoff is fair. It's fair because the rules were set up in advance and everyone knew what was happening. At the same time, especially for those of us who remember baseball with two leagues, no divisions, and just the World Series at the end of the season, a one game playoff, except as a necessary tie-breaker, is about as UN-baseball as you can get -- something from another sport, like football or soccer. The growth to three divisions made a single wild card necessary because three is an odd number; it can even be argued that a single wild card makes sense because the second best team in one division can be, and often is, better than the winners of the other divisions. The addition of a second wild card team just re-introduces the odd-number problem, and makes a mockery of the 162 game season. The one game wild card playoff idea has been done for money, pure and simple. If they want lots of playoff games, then shorten the season, let at least 1/3 of the teams through, and have a hockey-style playoff segment of the season. The one game wild card playoff is especially questionable (some would say ludicrous) in the situation the Pirates and Reds have just created. The Pirates have bested the Reds in the season head-to-head, they have a better overall record by 4 games, and the two are even in the same division. Why should the third place team (the Reds in this case) now get a one game shot at leap-frogging a team four games ahead of them to go to the playoffs when they have just finished well off the pace? The Pirates have already beaten them three in a row to finish the season. Heck, the Pirates are closer to first place than the Reds are to the Pirates - how about a one game playoff between Pittsburgh and St. Louis to determine the division champs? Makes as much sense as deciding second place that way! Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Pirates fan, AND I have been arguing the above for two weeks now - that whichever team ends up third in the NL Central - Pirates or Reds - ought to stay home for the playoffs.