Braves pan Bud Selig’s latest gem — a one-game playoff

Bud Selig has rewritten the "Baseball For Dummies" manual, and a new one-game playoff is just the latest example of bad moves. (AP photo)

The one-game playoff format is straight out of Bud Selig's "Baseball Commissioner For Dummies" manual. (AP photo)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – There’s no need to spend time debating whether Bud Selig is making a good decision any more. It’s more about ranking his degree of nonsensicalness.

Is it worse than leading torch-carrying villagers against former commissioner Fay Vincent (and then taking his job, of course), but probably not as bad as inexplicably preventing the New York Mets from wearing FDNY and NYPD hats on the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

Is it worse than doing nothing about performance-enhancing drug use in baseball until getting humiliated before Congress, but maybe not as lame as deciding that home-field advantage in the most important game of the season (World Series, Game 7) would be determined by the winner of a meaningless exhibition (the All-Star game)?

Where does this gem rank? Major League Baseball is on the verge of approving an expanded playoffs. Sort of.

Actually, expanded baseball playoffs, done correctly, maybe thought out for more than five minutes, wouldn’t be so bad, as long as the sport didn’t go the everybody-in-the-pool route of the NBA and NHL. But what baseball, led by Selig, is expected to do is give approval to a gimmicky one-game format between two wild-card teams in each league.

Effectively, it’s a play-in game. So now, the Braves and Red Sox would be like Stony Brook and Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA tournament.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Braves center fielder Michael Bourn said. “You play all those games just to play one game? It would be better to play a series, even just a three-game series. We don’t play a one-game series the whole year and now we’re going to play one game in the playoffs? Add another team, that’s cool. But one game? Come on, man.”

Funny. The Braves would’ve benefited from this new format last season, and even they’re not thrilled about this. Instead of seeing St. Louis charge down the stretch and step over the corpse in Atlanta to win the National League wild-card spot  on the final day of the season, the Braves and Cardinals would have played a one-game series.

Think of this, too: All of that drama that baseball benefited from for weeks last September would’ve been muted by the new format. Atlanta, St. Louis, Boston and Tampa Bay all would’ve made it, anyway.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez cracked, “I would’ve taken it last year.” But most Braves panned the idea. Even those who supported the concept of a second wild-card team, such as Brian McCann and David Ross, don’t like the single-game format.

“The season’s already long enough,” Chipper Jones said. “I know the almighty buck triggers everything, but when is enough enough? It makes no sense to me whatsoever – none whatsoever.

“One game is cutthroat. It’s win-or-go-home baseball, and players aren’t like that. You want to play yourself into getting to a cut-throat situation, like a Game 7. You’re going to have drama in a Game 7.”

“I’m sure it’s good for fans and it’s good for MLB,” pitcher Tim Hudson said. “We’re just the pawns here.”

Expanded playoffs have been coming for a while. League decisions are driven by dollars. Dollars are generated by network television deals. Network executives want prime-time playoff games.

There also has been a feeling that division winners should be rewarded over wild-card teams in the postseason. This accomplishes that because wild-card teams would need to burn their No. 1 starters in the one-game playoff before moving on to the league divisional series.

The issue is the one game. In addition to the gimmick nature of it, it potentially penalizes the wild-card team that finishes 10 games ahead of the other wild card in the standings, even if it wins the game.

“St. Louis probably doesn’t win the World Series if they play one game against us last year,” Hudson said.

Selig recently signed another two-year extension as commissioner. He makes $22 million a year and has a private jet at his disposal. Much of his income comes indirectly from TV executives, who will love the drama of a sudden-death format. In the end, it’s about money, not about what makes sense.

By Jeff Schultz

153 comments Add your comment

Black Coffee & Bourbon

March 1st, 2012
2:47 pm

josh

March 1st, 2012
2:49 pm

first? Love Hudsons comment! lol

mlb predictions 2012: http://atlinsight.com

jeffrey d

March 1st, 2012
2:57 pm

I like the rule. It rewards team for winning the division and makes wild card teams earn it

JoshTown

March 1st, 2012
2:58 pm

Thanks Jeff. Can’t imagine how this makes a lick of sense.

jeffrey d

March 1st, 2012
3:01 pm

Well if you don’t want a one-game playoff then win the division

DetroitBraves

March 1st, 2012
3:02 pm

And now Jeff, we find much common ground. Don’t like the one-game playoff one bit. Baseball is a game the requires sample size, hence the 162 game schedule. Let some 3rd place team in and guess what, a 3rd place team is going to end up winning the thing. And a third place team may actually be about the 9th or 10th best team in baseball. After such a long, grueling season I just don’t see the point of this.

Red Stick

March 1st, 2012
3:05 pm

A one game playoff is just dumb. It’s no different than the tiebreaker game MLB now uses.

I like the idea of getting a 5th team in, but a series is needed.

BravesBobblehead24

March 1st, 2012
3:05 pm

1 game playoff, yea right!! That ain’t gonna work Bud!!

wayn-o

March 1st, 2012
3:07 pm

I loath Selig

Najeh Davenpoop

March 1st, 2012
3:13 pm

Expanded playoffs are good, but they should be coupled with shortening the regular season by at least a couple of weeks.

Herschel Talker

March 1st, 2012
3:19 pm

Schultzie:

Fredi is such a stupid fool. He says, “I would have taken it last year.” Hey Fredi, you f@t piece of dog doo, would you have taken a 10 game lead at the end of August? Oh yeah, you had that and squandered it, you clown.

FIRE FREDI GONZALEZ!!! THIS IS A NO HAT-TIPPING ZONE!!!

HT

NoGaGator

March 1st, 2012
3:30 pm

Enter your comments here

NoGaGator

March 1st, 2012
3:32 pm

Jeff -

Nice to see you calling him out, even though he’s a member of your tribe.

This guy’s been a schmeck even before the owners appointed him as their stooge.

Brave Hokie

March 1st, 2012
3:37 pm

Shocking ~ a franchise who hasn’t stepped up in the post-season in 12/15 years, doesn’t want to have to win a play-in game.
What a bunch of women.

I like the rule ~ wild card teams have it too easy in the current system, they SHOULD have to do more…

Don’t like it ~ win ur frigg’in division for once.

matt r

March 1st, 2012
3:44 pm

“St. Louis probably doesn’t win the World Series if they play one game against us last year,” / Yeah instead they played three against us down the stretch IN ATLANTA and won all three. So oops.

reckingball

March 1st, 2012
3:53 pm

one game playoff doesn’t necessarily mean that the WC team would burn off it’s #1 starter.

PMC

March 1st, 2012
3:53 pm

If Selig is attached, it’s going to be a terrible idea.

reckingball

March 1st, 2012
3:54 pm

Selig is not qualified to be the Commish.

kman

March 1st, 2012
3:55 pm

it sure is tough to hear / read that multi -millionaires don’t want to play one more game …

reckingball

March 1st, 2012
3:56 pm

If the rule was in place last year the Cards might not have won the WS, but they probably would have beat the Braves for the WC.

bh

March 1st, 2012
4:01 pm

makes no sense. this is almost as bad as the all star game winner getting home field advantage in World Series. How can “baseball” men allow him to do this time and time again?

Hillbilly D

March 1st, 2012
4:04 pm

I don’t even like wild cards, much less this turkey screwing. There was a time I thought Bowie Kuhn was a complete waste of space but I believe ol’ Bud has got him beat.

Bravesfan79

March 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

I like the all star game having meaning! The NBA all star game was nothing but a layup line, and the probowl was awful also. At least baseball actually encourages the players to actually try!

Sonny Clusters

March 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

#Braves Chipper Jones on not liking extra wild card: “I don’t agree with it, but… We’re just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to.” @ajcbraves 2 hours, 33 minutes

We would never think of the Braves players as just a piece of meat but we aren’t fearsome Buck Commanders who know a thing or two about a piece of meat. We would not want to be a piece of meat either and we can see why uh, Chipper would not like an extra wild card. That would take the lustre off being the Wild Card Champions like the Braves was in 2010 and like they was trying so hard to be last season until it was September and they went into the EPIC Collapse for which they should ever be known. Bud Selig is not our favorite Baseball Commisssioner but it sure looks like he will be there forever. As for Fredi’s comments . . . why bother?

GT Alum

March 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

I have no problem with division winners getting a bye as a reward for winning their division, but having 1 game decide something in a sport that thinks it needs teams to play 162 games to determine a winner is ridiculous.

I agree with Najeh. Chop the regular season to like 150 games and replace the lost games with a real wild card round. Of course, the owners won’t go for that because that’s fewer games they can sell tickets to.

GT Alum

March 1st, 2012
4:13 pm

Didn’t Selig swear he would retire after this contract?

bvilebaron

March 1st, 2012
4:19 pm

I am far from a Bud Selig fan, but some of your criticism is off base. It was the MLB players union, not Selig, that was responsible for the lack of drug testing in baseball before being called before Congress. Their tired mantra prior to that beat down was that drug testing was a “deal breaker”.

Frankly, I am generally against adding more teams to the playoffs, but the rationale for a 1 game playoff game is to place more importance on trying to win the division rather than maneuvering your lineup down the stretch and not trying to win every game if you realize you have the wild card wrapped up (see the Yankees a few seasons back). The Russian Roulette nature of the 1 game wild card game also rightfully gives more of an advantage to the division winners.

david

March 1st, 2012
4:19 pm

This is why the MLB is the #3 sport in the US now behind the NBA.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:23 pm

If MLB insist on doing this, at least have the seeding make sense. Seed teams based on record not based on whether they are wild cards. Otherwise, geography and the luck of the draw when it comes to divisions is a major factor in seeding.

In 2005 the Padres won 82 games and the NL West. They would have received a pass in the one-game playoff nonsense and the 89-win Astros and 88-win Phillies would have been forced into the one-game playoff.

So the Astros and Phillies, teams that finished within 2 games of the NL East winning Braves, would have been forced into a one-game playoff while the Padres, a team that was 8 games worse than the Braves, would have gotten a pass.

Win-loss record is not a perfect way to seed teams in a sport with unbalanced schedules. But it’s a lot better than the luck of the draw when it comes to divisional alignment or geography playing major roles in the seeding.

If MLB wants to do the playoffs this way, at least fix the seeding. Don’t reward a team like the 2005 Padres simply because they were more west than other teams and played in a weak division.

GT Alum

March 1st, 2012
4:25 pm

Bravesfan79 -

Is it really worth tainting the World Series to make the ASG more competitive?

GT Alum

March 1st, 2012
4:31 pm

bvilebaron -

And the owners and commissioner turned a blind eye and allowed the player’s union to use drug testing as a bargaining chip. If they had provided evidence of rampant use of illegal drugs and really pushed the issue, they could’ve gotten drug testing instituted sooner. But they were too busy profiting off the chemically-generated HR explosion to do anything like that.

And most of the detractors aren’t saying division winners shouldn’t be rewarded. They’re just saying there’s better ways to do it.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:32 pm

bvilebaron, why is it right to give an advantage to division winners?

The only reason the 2005 Padres were division winners is because they were lucky enough to be on the west coast and in the National League.

The only reason the Astros, Phillies, Marlins, Mets and possibly a few other teams didn’t win a division in 2005 is because they weren’t lucky enough to be near the west coast.

According to a BaseballReference metric that takes into account strength of schedule and run differential, the 2005 Padres were the 11th-best team in the NL that season and 6th-worst team. In theory, the 83-loss Cubs and the 89-loss Reds could have won the NL West that season if they had switched places with the Padres. Yet, the Padres are rewarded with a bye in the one-game round.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:35 pm

“Is it really worth tainting the World Series to make the ASG more competitive?”

Well, before World Series home-field advantaged just alternated leagues. Basically it was random. I would prefer the All-Star game not decide home-field in the Series. I would prefer interleague record decide it. But I think people get too worked up over the whole thing. I mean how is having the All-Star game decide home-field that much worse than home-field being decided essentially by coin-flip, alternating years, as it was before?

fuzzybee

March 1st, 2012
4:35 pm

Hey Hudson, all the Braves had to do during September was win ONE MORE GAME. But it would have been different in a one game playoff. Dumbest comment ever.

And Fredi, yeah, you would have loved to say ‘We were a playoff team’ after losing your one game playoff to St. Louis.

Baseball has the same problem as our society. If we dumb down to make everyone a winner, we will no longer have winners.

Baseball was a game with a soul. Unfortunately it sold it off piece by piece until it is now an irrelevant crack-addicted hooker.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:43 pm

Also, this one-game mess doesn’t give teams any incentive to win down the stretch.

Go back to 2005. The Phillies are trying hard to catch the Braves coming down to the final week. The Astros are in a good position to lock up one of the two spots in the one-game playoff. In the final week or so, the Astros can just rest Clemens, Pettite, Oswalt and some of their key position players while the Phillies fight for a division title. It’s possible that because the Astros were resting up, the Phillies win more games but the Astros are in a much better position to beat them in the one-game playoff because Clemens and Pettite are well-rested. In that scenario, MLB rewarded the Astros for taking it easy the final few games and punished the team that was closer to winning a division title and the team that won more games.

Makes sense to me. How about you?

1eyedJack

March 1st, 2012
4:44 pm

Selig is beginning to look like Uncle Senile.

Atlcracker

March 1st, 2012
4:46 pm

I didn’t like the original decision to go to a wild card. Since we are stuck with that I like this modification. There should be a negative to being a wild card instead of a division winner and this move will do that.

Zing

March 1st, 2012
4:46 pm

100% agree with your (and the players’) assessment of the 1-game playoff–I’ve been saying it for a while–and 100% agree with your assessment of Selig. The best thing about Bud Selig is that he doesn’t make a lot of decisions. But his occasional decrees are bad enough.

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 1st, 2012
4:48 pm

Well I guess it is better than his other idea, that being at the end of nine innings if tied, the winner will be determined by a nine on nine game of roll to the bat.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

Of course, if MLB does a better job with the seeding and seed teams based on record and not by whether they win a division, things would get better.

Again, going back to 2005, since that’s the example I’m stuck on at the moment, there would have been a three-team race between the Braves, Phillies and Astros to avoid the one-game playoff. That scenario has its problems, for sure, but at least it’s better than the Astros not having any incentive to try during the final games and at least it’s better than the 82-win Padres, possibly the 11th-best team in the NL, cruising to a bye in the one-game round.

The ATH

March 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

Selig is normally a boob, but this is a great idea.

How much did it hurt to watch weak Marlins teams win World Series over division-winning braves teams? Winning your division should matter. I love this.

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

Or his other idea of a one game season, followed by a 161 game playoff.

Blahblahblah

March 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

I think it’s excellent, and it gives the #1 seed an advantage, as the play-in winner likely burned a good arm and can’t go with their top starter.

Zing

March 1st, 2012
4:51 pm

I’m just waiting to see the disclaimer at the end of baseball games that reads “The producers of this television show reserve the right to alter results for entertainment purposes without prior disclosure.” Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it, Bud???

Mister Frisky

March 1st, 2012
4:52 pm

It’s perfect for the Braves.Since they have given up trying to win the division they can lower their goals even more.Can’t wait to see another meaningless banner flying at the Ted.2012 play in game participant.

Puma

March 1st, 2012
4:55 pm

1 game playoff is dumb…any team can beat any other team in the league for one game, even the 2011 Astros over the 2011 Phillies. I get the penalty thing for Wild Cards, but its like what Bourn said, 160 games come down to 1 game.

Expanded playoffs are a good idea, but they should shorten the season some so that all baseball is over by mid-Oct – it seems to get later and later every year. Of course the problem with shorter season is then all of the single season records will be out of whack. So you know what, just keep it like it is.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
4:55 pm

“There should be a negative to being a wild card instead of a division winner and this move will do that.”

Why? Nobody can seem to answer that.

If the Braves win 95 games, second-best record in the NL, and they finish second this season, why should they get punished with a one-game playoff? Because they aren’t lucky enough to be on the west coast or in the middle of the country and therefore in a division they could have won?

With multiple divisions, why reward a team for winning a division? Reward teams for winning games.

Shaun

March 1st, 2012
5:02 pm

…it gives the #1 seed an advantage, as the play-in winner likely burned a good arm and can’t go with their top starter.

I agree with this. If the seeding is done right, it could be a slight improvement over what we have now. However, the problem is that with wild cards automatically assigned to the one-game playoff, winning a division counts more than winning games. Winning 100 games and finishing in second place is punished while cruising to a division title with 85 wins is rewarded.

Scottbravesfan

March 1st, 2012
5:02 pm

I love the one game playoff format. Those games are going to be intense. It will also make winning your division mean something again. The Yankees rolled over in 2010 so they could avoid the rangers in the first round. That will never happen again.

dean

March 1st, 2012
5:12 pm

Bud Selig has almost ruined this sport. When he finally let’s go of his grip of the sport will be a great day of celebration. What a crook!