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Playoffs are a Disgrace

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Playoffs are a Disgrace
I know this has been discussed to death over the last few years. As a Tigers fan, though, with the knowledge that they will probably finish first with an 8 game lead going into September, I must protest the vile end of season tournament.

Pennant. The word used to have meaning before 1994 when MLB introduced wild cards into baseball. Pennant- it is a pleasant sounding word. Like lullaby or bliss. And one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball was Bobby Thompson's "shot heard around the world" [YouTube] home run to win the 1951 pennant for the Giants - "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

Screw television ratings and advertising revenue. It is very simple. If you win the pennant you go to The Series. If there are 4 divisions as there are in MLB, then the top 4 finishers have an elimination tournament to win the PENNANT. No wild cards. Anything else is unacceptable. In Japanese baseball there is the Central League and the Pacific League, so it is simpler. If you finish first you win the pennant.

Pennant. A wonderful word. A word that has far less meaning these days, and that is not good.

[Fixed link on Aug 30, 2008 2:45 PM JST - Sorry for the inconvenience.]
Comments
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Aug 30, 2008 11:10 PM ]

MLB has more than 4 divisions now. It has 6 divisions, 3 in each league.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Aug 31, 2008 2:02 AM | HT Fan ]

Yes, that was a typo. East, Central, and West in both leagues. 6 divisions - I typed quickly and didn't check.

The 3 division system started in 1994, the same year they started allowing wild card teams to play. Although it is awkward with a 3 division tournament I still think the wild card addition was a bad choice. I also think the 3 division format did baseball a disservice. I suppose that with so many teams it gets to a point where 1 division in each league becomes unwieldy. 2 divisions would suffice with the top teams in each division having a playoff for the pennant. That is not as exciting as a true pennant race though.

Only one year before - in 1993 - the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants staged a classic pennant race. Each team was a powerhouse, and would win over 100 games. Unfortunately for San Francisco fans, the Giants "only" won 103 games, while the Braves managed to win 104.

I side with the traditionalists who opposed the addition of wild card teams in 1994. And I feel even stronger about the Japanese playoffs. There are only 12 teams in Japan, 6 apiece for each league. The team that wins the pennant should go to the Series.

Take the 2005 season when the Hawks finished in first place, 4.5 games ahead of the Chiba Lotte Marines. They lost the playoff and Chiba went to the Japan Series.

Was this good for baseball? No I say.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: metro21 | Posted: Aug 31, 2008 2:48 AM ]

Sports are about chance. Just having that one little chance, that's what keeps you going and pushing. To me that's the soul of sports and baseball. Everyone loves a close game and dreams of one hit or home run that wins it all. It only takes one chance.

With the playoffs that chance is there all season for most teams. Without the playoffs more teams would be out already. They would probably play at a lower level, and the team at the top would have an even easier time winning.

Right now that chance is still there for just about every team barring Yokohama. More ratings and revenue certainly never hurt anyone, but also more players and more fans embracing that one chance until the very end. To me, that is the heart of sports.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 10:04 AM | HT Fan ]

- Right now that chance is still there for just about every team barring Yokohama. More ratings and revenue certainly never hurt anyone, but also more players and more fans embracing that one chance until the very end. To me, that is the heart of sports.

Ridiculous. The team that perseveres over a season deserves to go to the Series. Period metro21. Some years there are tight pennant races (like 1993, the year before MLB lost their way and introduced 3 divisions in each league with a wild card). And sometimes one team is dominant and wins 12 games in front. The inferior teams probably play at a lower level the last 2 weeks because they have no chance of going to the Series, but who cares? The dominant leader and pennant winner should go to the Series.

This is why baseball is not an Olympic sport. Any team can win one game. Or get lucky in a playoff at the end of the season like the Marines did in 2005.

- You have to prove yourself able to handle a short series environment as well as the long pennant race. This I am happy with - it is a truly versatile team which can win both and makes the winning of both much more valuable.

Christopher, I would like to point out that by your own admission you have never played the game except for a few pick up games as a child. You are not qualified to point out what is "valuable" because you never played the game. Players compete over a season to win a pennant. They study opposing team's strengths and weaknesses and they play to win A PENNANT. Pennant. I love that word.

- Playoffs were introduced to generate money and extra viewers by the Pacific League.

That is correct Christopher. It is about money. Not integrity or what is good for the players, the fans, or the game.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: metro21 | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 10:58 AM ]

- This is why baseball is not an Olympic sport. Any team can win one game. Or get lucky in a playoff at the end of the season like the Marines did in 2005.

But how do you determine who is lucky? The lower seeded team who won in the playoffs, or the first place team who won during the season. With 144 games a season you could easily get 10 or so "lucky" wins and now you're 10 games ahead.

The way it is now the team who finishes in first gets a good advantage in the playoffs. If the last seed ends up beating them, who got lucky when? The only way to know is if they played like 100 games head to head. Nobody wants to watch that, so this is the way it goes. I honestly am OK with both systems. If the rules say this is what you've got to win, then that's what you've got to win.

But yes, personally I do like the playoffs more because it is a ton more fun to watch.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 11:37 AM | HAN Fan ]

- Christopher, I would like to point out that by your own admission you have never played the game except for a few pick up games as a child. You are not qualified to point out what is "valuable" because you never played the game.

Is this point relevant? I think not and could justifiably point to you being out of touch.

Times change and tastes evolve as do sports. Just because you do not like the new format does not mean that others should also dislike it.

Remember a lot of us are not good enough to make it to professional level even though we enjoy and know the game. Sport is about proving yourself - not about "a right to go to the Series." The playoffs make a team prove that they can handle a different kind of pressure, and if they are worthy they arrive at the Japan Series.

Try and watch some other sports cup competitions (if you don't already). I would suggest the World Cup to see how the principle works.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 1:54 PM | SFT Fan ]

- Christopher, I would like to point out that by your own admission you have never played the game except for a few pick up games as a child. You are not qualified to point out what is "valuable" because you never played the game.

While I disagree with Christopher sometimes here and there, as I do with a lot of people here also, the absurdity that someone who hasn't played baseball can't define something as valuable is asinine. We could use this opinion on just about anyone here. I have to say I find this opinion insulting.

- Not integrity or what is good for the players, the fans, or the game.

Though that is what it is, an opinion. Playoffs have been a major success for sports in terms of generating fan interest and revenue. And last time I checked these are both in the long term interests of the game. The debate of playoffs seems to be divided into two camps:
  1. those who are old school and think any attempt to change the game is infringing on the sanctity of the game and is detrimental to the game
  2. those who want to reform the game to better create fan excitement and extra revenue for the game
Returning to the point, how is generating fan interest and increased revenue detrimental to the game? And to answer the question, I enjoy watching the playoffs and the excitement of the post-season. It's exciting to watch the thrill of post-season play in the Division and League Championship Series.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 11:42 AM | HT Fan ]

I stand alone on this thread. Not one poster has agreed with me. That is OK. I am convinced to the marrow of my bones that I am right.

You all should watch the Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" [IMDB.com] which is the best documentary ever on the sport. It was made in 1994, the year MLB lost their way. Listen to lifelong baseball fans speak with true sorrow about the loss of the pennant races.

You guys don't get it. And enough of the use of the word "evolves." Sports "evolve" over time blah, blah. There is no evolution here. The sport has not evolved into something superior. It is the same game (with some small rule changes) that Ty Cobb played in in 1908. Yep, a century ago. The same game.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 12:07 PM | SFT Fan ]

- You all should watch the Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" which is the best documentary ever on the sport. It was made in 1994, the year MLB lost their way. Listen to lifelong baseball fans speak with true sorrow about the loss of the pennant races.

So, because a sample of baseball fans in a single Ken Burns documentary says one thing, that is all of sudden a fact? It's your opinion that baseball is worse off with playoffs, not a fact.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 12:37 PM | YBS Fan ]

For what it's worth, I thought your epitaph to the Pennant was beautiful.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 2:25 PM | HT Fan ]

- For what it's worth, I thought your epitaph to the Pennant was beautiful.

Thank you westbaystars. And thank you for this great site also.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: metro21 | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 2:55 PM ]

There is no right or wrong. I honor your opinion if you honor mine. =]
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Aug 31, 2008 4:17 AM ]

I disagree. I think the playoffs are great!
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Aug 31, 2008 5:38 PM | HAN Fan ]

Playoffs were introduced to generate money and extra viewers by the Pacific League. The only problem was with the Pa-League, the winner of the playoffs took the pennant. This made them a total absurdity and the Pa-League looked like a bunch of fools. But the income from the playoffs was very attractive.

The revised playoff layout is much better. You compete to win the chance to play for the cup (Japan Series). This is fine - everyone can try and the team that wins can compete for the cup. So the team that wins the league doesn't necessarily go to the Japan Series. You have to prove yourself able to handle a short series environment as well as the long pennant race. This I am happy with - it is a truly versatile team which can win both and makes the winning of both much more valuable.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 10:46 AM | YBS Fan ]

I love the passion you have for the Pennant. And will agree that much of the meaning of the pennant is lost if you can't carry it on to the Nippon Series, as the Giants failed to do last year.

I was skeptical about the playoff format when it was introduced in 2005. But the excitement of that first playoff series totally changed my mind. While the Central League was playing makeup games with no meaning, using players I'd never heard of, Lotte and Seibu were battling at a level I hadn't seen during the regular season. Likewise in Stage Two, Lotte and and SoftBank played some of the most exciting games of the season. When the Nippon Series came around, the Hanshin Tigers hadn't played a serious game in 3-4 weeks, whereas Lotte had just pulled off two incredibly intense series. The Tigers didn't have a prayer.

Nippon Ham took the playoffs in 2006, another incredible series that saw two of the best pitchers in NPB defeated by the Fighters, Matsuzka and Saitoh. If you had only seen Saitoh pitch that game, to a heart breaking loss, you would understand the intensity of that series. And once again, the Pacific League champions steamroll the Central League Pennant winning Dragons who hadn't played a meaningful game in almost a month.

The first two Pacific League playoff series were some of the best baseball games I'd ever seen in my life.

The Central League joined in not only for the potential profits, but because the Pacific League was so dominating in the Nippon Series by having such meaningful games at the end of the season.

In the Central League playoffs in 2007, the Giants hadn't played a meaningful game in over two weeks. They clinched the Pennant, then just sat around while other teams finished up their rained out makeup games. So when the Dragons came to town, the Giants didn't know what hit them. Had they gone on to the Nippon Series, I have no doubt that they would have been swept by the Fighters. Instead, we had one of the closest Nippon Series in years by two teams who had to work hard in the weeks leading up to it to get there.

You're right, though. The meaning of the Pennant is lost when the winner of the season cannot go on to the Nippon Series. It is a tragedy. But for the quality of baseball in October that we get by the Pennant's sacrifice, I'm afraid that I come out in favor of the playoffs.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Sep 1, 2008 1:08 PM ]

The Japan Series has history and prestige, but it started off as a copy of the World Series, artificially splitting a single league into Central and Pacific (well, not quite simple, there's backstabbing, player grabbing, etc. that went on, but essentially the Yomiuri Giants owner wanted a World Series for Japan). And didn't the World Series start off as something akin to the Asia Series, not taken entirely seriously, more of an exhibition series between champions of different leagues that never played against each other.

Hey, maybe this means that one day the Asia Series (in a longer format) would overtake the Japan Series in significance (like Champions League football in Europe). Maybe.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Tokyo Sox | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 2:04 PM | TYS Fan ]

Larryo, you are right that you stand alone (so far) in this thread. If you have come here to wax poetic about the beauty of the idea that is the Pennant, and the aesthetics of the word itself, so be it. That is certainly your prerogative -- it is your right to offer your opinion, as JBroks said. But I'd like you to realize that others are just doing the same.

You offer up statements like "Was this good for baseball? No I say." That's pretty clearly nothing more than an (unsubstantiated) opinion.

Westbay-san then goes on to tell you, with a lot of explanation and details, why he disagrees. That's his opinion. Argue your side all you want, but please do not purport to be offering "facts," as you did when you told metro21, "Ridiculous...Period metro21."

Lastly (on this point), Christopher is probably the poster on this site with whom I most frequently disagree. Is that because he never played the game, and I played my whole life? Maybe. Maybe not. But whatever his opinions, he is a knowledgeable and passionate observer of the game and has been for years, and personally I think you were, at best, ignorant in your dismissal of his opinion.

Moving on -- you compare the NPB playoff system to MLB. Yes a (probably intended) side effect of lengthening the MLB playoff system has been to increase revenue. But rather than decrying increased revenues, how about considering the fact that extra playoff games adds a ton of excitement, and keeps more fans interested longer? Last year in the NL West, after a grueling 162 games, 2 teams were tied for the wild card with 89-73 records. Do you think that these two teams deserve to both go home and miss the playoffs? Here's an opinion: No I say. The NL wild card race was decided by a 163rd "regular season" game between the Rockies and Padres, a crazy, crazy game that was attended by over 48,000 people, saw 5 runs score in the 13th inning, with the Rockies winning the wild card and going on to face the Red Sox in the World Series. That game, and the Rockies' whole run up to, and subsequent to that game, was exciting. I mean, really, really exciting, and made possible only by the fact that we have a wild card system in place.

Consider also that since 1997, 9 wild card teams have played in the World Series, with 4 winning it - including 3 straight from 2002-'04. I offer up that stat to begin to illustrate the point that this is not the same game that Ty Cobb played 100 years ago, and it comes down to competitive balance: In 1908 there were 16 teams - half the number we have now. And I dug up the following from this link:
Seven pitchers threw no-hitters and seven of the all-time 50 lowest season ERAs came in 1908. As in 1907, Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford led the American League in nearly everything. Cobb won the batting title at .324 and was No. 1 in hits, doubles, triples, total bases, RBI, and slugging. Crawford led in home runs and was second in runs, RBI, hits, total bases, batting, and slugging.
Those guys were great, but neither they, nor their teams, were competing with a playing field anywhere near as broad and as diverse as today's.

You say, "It is about money. Not integrity or what is good for the players, the fans, or the game." While there is certainly a ton of additional revenue generated, I would argue that the biggest benefactors actually are the players and the fans, and therefore, "the game." Put another way, I don't root for NPB and MLB the organizations, but I root for the Swallows and the Red Sox, and I am happy to hand over my hard earned dollars to do so, regardless of who ends up with that money.

Back to the thread title topic -- this playoff system, in my opinion, is one of the best moves that a poorly run and much-maligned NPB has come up with in a long time.

larryo - a couple questions for you: If Hanshin were to have some kind of epic collapse, and finish in 2nd by a few games, would you really be of the opinion that they shouldn't make the playoffs? Or is your opinion jaded in this case by the fact that it's your team in first? Just curious. Also, as an aside, how do you feel about the DH? Many purists -- especially at the time it was enacted -- hated it. But let's be honest - who really wants to see a pitcher hit? I'm willing to bet a lot of people who hated it when it was enacted have come around over the years - just like many of the people who were so sorrowful when they lost their pennant races. That tends to happen when your team ends up benefiting from the system, as has been the case as the balance of power inevitably shifts between MLB [or NPB] teams.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 1:12 AM ]

One reason I really enjoyed watching the Chunichi Dragons hold off the charging Hanshin Tigers in 2006 (besides reading the panic posts from Firearmofmutiny) was because I knew that was the last true "pennant race" I'd ever follow in my lifetime. If MLB baseball had "wild cards" back in 1951, 1964, and 1978, those Brooklyn Dodgers, Phillies, and Red Sox teams would still have been in the playoffs. The fact that last year's Mets managed to miss the playoffs altogether definitely makes them baseball's biggest choke of all time. Having half your teams in the playoffs takes away from the legacy of great collapses that are remembered forever. It makes the regular season so much more meaningful.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: PLNara | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 6:08 PM | HT Fan ]

The point is to have more good and meaningful games, and by that measure I think the playoff system has been a success, particularly this season.

Seibu has the title locked up and Rakuten has fallen out of contention, but the other four teams in the Pacific League are within 1.5 games of each other and all have a legit shot at the playoffs. The battle for the 2nd and 3rd should go down the wire, and the playoffs should be tightly contested as well. Even though Rakuten has dropped out of contention, they haven't been the doormat of years passed. And the job Daijiro Ohishi has done with Orix is particularly impressive.

Without the playoffs, you'd just have Seibu running away with the title and some evenly-matched also-rans fighting for 2nd place.

Over in the Central League, The Giants have steadily caught up to Hanshin in what could shape up to be a battle down the wire of the traditional rivals, setting up a defining playoff series. And the Carp are breathing down Chunichi's neck, despite losing Kuroda and Arai, which speaks volumes about the job Marty Brown has done.

Without the playoffs, you'd still probably have a decent battle between Hanshin and the Giants, but Chunichi would be just a team in decline and Hiroshima would be having another rebuilding year.

So it's been a great year of Pro Yakyu, even to follow from this side of the Pacific. A lot of the story lines that we're getting to follow have been made possible by the playoff system. There have been some great pennant races under the old system, but this year wouldn't be one of them.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Yakulto | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 1:20 PM | TYS Fan ]

PLNara, I agree with you pretty much 100%. Don't forget about Yakult though. The CL is very much a 3-way race for that 3rd place, and is becoming pretty exciting.

An exciting race that simply wouldn't be there if not for the playoffs, which I couldn't be more in favor of.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 1:07 AM | NIP Fan ]

Here's my take on it:

I'm a baseball fan. The off-season makes me sad.
Playoffs extend the baseball season by 3-4 weeks!
That's one less month per year of being sad!
I love playoffs!

Wheeeeee! More baseball!
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 1:59 PM ]

I know that some folks don't like the wild card. But I like it, because it offers an open bid to the best second place teams from all regions. It's a mixed bag of unexpected and temporary rivalries. I'm not crazy about realigning back into two divisions, because a 100 win team missing the post season is very possible under those conditions. I wouldn't go so far as calling the current set-up a disgrace, but the former set-up had is flaws, too.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Sep 6, 2008 1:26 AM ]

If the Pennant was the ultimate prize, then CL and PL should join up to become a single league again to determine the champion. A weaker squad can sneak out with the championship in a short 7 game series (Cardinals, recently). The people who really adore the Pennant should be calling for a single league instead of the 2 league system right now, where teams face the same 5 teams for more than 100 games in the season.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Sep 6, 2008 12:23 PM | HAN Fan ]

This would lose the Central League teams about 50% of their lucrative games against the Tigers and Giants. It was tried in 2004 when Kintetsu pulled out, but the owners of the Central League resisted it. Fans also didn't want it.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Sep 7, 2008 7:13 PM ]

I know, it was written more in jest. But the fans and players stood up against it because the owners also wanted the number of teams to be reduced to 10 through team mergers (one of them occurred with the Orix-Kintetsu merger, but luckily enough Rakuten stepped in, with LiveDoor acting as a catalyst, to bring the number of teams back to 12).
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Sep 11, 2008 9:25 PM ]

The meaning of pennant is "a small tapered flag." That's all. It's given to the winner of the league, that can be the first place team or the winner of a playoff. No matter which is used, in the end there is one winner of each league and they play in Japan Series.

There is no question that the playoffs make baseball more exciting. Instead of two teams in contention you have six. Four teams' fans get to be in the race. Do the math, it's simple. Teams collapse in the playoff systems, too, so that is pointless to raise in support of a single winner process.

So the playoffs are an improvement, like, dare I say it, the designated hitter. Both make the game better. If you want to wax nostalgic for the old days, watch reruns of the YG when they won every year. Now that was boring.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 13, 2008 3:20 PM | HT Fan ]

- There is no question that the playoffs make baseball more exciting. Instead of two teams in contention you have six.

Just curious, but you are like Christopher in that you have never played the game, yes? You do not understand the struggle over a season to win a pennant and what that entails.

Pennant races existed in MLB until 1994, as stated previously. The pennant winner deserves to go to the Series because they persevered and emerged victorious over an entire season.

- So the playoffs are an improvement, like, dare I say it, the designated hitter. Both make the game better. If you want to wax nostalgic for the old days, watch reruns of the YG when they won every year. Now that was boring.

I am waxing nostalgic. And for good reason - because the playoffs are not an improvement.

- The meaning of pennant is "a small tapered flag." That's all.

My, you really have never played the game have you? Tell me this [YouTube] is "boring" zman.

It looks like the Tigers will finish first in the Central League this year. But it is not a done deal the Giants could come from behind as of this writing. Whoever wins THE PENNANT deserves to go to the Series. I have stated why in previous posts on this thread.

The playoff system was designed by businessman with economic interests and most of them never played the game either.

It started in 2005 (I think). I remember the Marines beat the Hawks who had finished 4 1/2 games in front. That was not good for Japanese baseball.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Sep 13, 2008 6:12 PM | NIP Fan ]

So, uh, Larry, when did you play baseball again? Please outline your illustrious playing career for us, since I seem to have forgotten.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 13, 2008 8:05 PM | YBS Fan ]

Larryo,

Before this goes any further, what Deanna is trying to say (in her own round about way) is that:
  1. You have not given your baseball playing credentials, yet are assuming a lot of others'.
  2. The whole idea that one must have played baseball in order to enjoy it is a fallacy.
When I called up Wayne Graczyk to thank him for tickets to "Yankee Day" and pass on greetings from a friend of his, I made the comment that I wrote about Japanese baseball on the Internet. His reaction was much like yours, "What gives you the right to write about Japanese baseball!?" To him, and many other mainstream journalists at the time, those radical kids writing their thoughts on the "Internets" (as they call the Internet in Washington DC) were not to be taken seriously. Of course, the word "blog" had not been invented yet, and bloggers weren't yet mentioned on CNN, so the power of self publication was unknown. Are you suggesting that I should have just said, "Hey, you're right. I'm just a fan of Pro Yakyu and really have no right to voice my opinion of it"? Had I taken Wayne's advice, how much information on Pro Yakyu would there be on the Internet in English? Sure, someone would have eventually filled the void, but when?

I appreciate your devotion to the Pennant Race, and how important it is to you. But trying to discredit peoples' opinion based on playing experience is not the way to go. Fans have opinions about the importance of the Pennant Race, wild cards, playoffs, the designated hitter, split seasons, two leagues, internationalization, and many more issues. Some feel as strongly one way or the other on these issues as you do on this and will not be swayed by nostalgia or any other argument, least of all an attempt to discredit their opinions in such a way.

If you would like to understand more about why your argument fails (and how to better disagree), I'd highly recommend Paul Graham's How to Disagree essay. If you could raise your argument to disagreement hierarchy level 4 (DH4) you may get a few people who don't really care either way to lean toward preferring the emphasis on the Pennant Race. But this isn't an issue you're likely to sway people who feel strongly about the benefits of the playoffs.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 13, 2008 9:17 PM | HT Fan ]

Thanks westbaystars. I guess I went overboard on the "you never played the game and I did" routine. I can still remember when Howard Cossell left Monday Night Football. It left a huge void and MNF was never the same. And he never played football.

I started playing organized baseball at age eight in Little League and played until I was 20. I wasn't good enough to make The Show, but while I was at University I had a few tryouts. I played A League (Japanese amateur baseball has 3 divisions, A, B, and C with A being the highest level) for one season when I came to Japan in 1991.

I guess the "I played and you didn't" was an ad hominem, but I truly feel that any professional baseball league is best served by a pennant race.

What happened to MLB was that so many expansion teams got in that it got to the point where a pennant race was no longer practical. In Japan there are only 12 teams in 2 divisions. I am a Tiger's fan and I hope they win this year. I remember in 2003 when the magic number was 2 and shirt vendors all over Kansai were hawking "Hanshin Tigers 2003 Central League Champions" t-shirts. There was a wild celebration at Dotembori and here in Nishinomiya when they won the M1 game. That was the last time the Tigers finished first, and when they did they went to the Series as they should have.

This year there is no pennant race. And I think it is not an ad hominem to point out that the suits that created the playoff system (most of them anyway) never played the game. And even if you never played baseball, I think you should be able to see that the playoffs are not good for the same reason baseball is not an Olympic sport. A team that wins over an entire season is the winner, not the winner of a 3 game tournament where a poor outing by an ace, bad breaks or whatever, enable a 2nd or even 3rd place winner to go to the Series.

This year there will be no entrepreneurs selling t-shirts. There will be no celebration at Dotembori unless they win the playoff, and that is not the same as it was in 2003. The M4 magic number tension that gripped Kansai then is not there this year because of the playoffs.

This is a great loss, westbaystars.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 14, 2008 12:41 AM | YBS Fan ]

Yes, emotional appeals do tend to leave me scratching me head wondering what one is talking about. While I don't really wish to be robotic-like, I do tend to follow the scientific method when breaking down an argument. That is to say, I try to see what hypothesis the speaker is trying to prove is (the "core argument"), and I apply observable tests (data) to see if the hypothesis holds up under scrutiny.

I like the comparison about the celebrations at Dotembori between 1985 and 2003 with what you expect to see when (if) Hanshin wins the pennant this year. Taking what the Giants' Watanabe-kaicho said last October about the worth of the Pennant the Giants won without going on to the Nippon Series might make a stronger argument. But I don't suppose Nabetsune's mutterings make it to Daily Sports very often?

Still, I wouldn't expect the celebrations for winning the Pennant to be as big as they were in 2003. In fact, were they when Hanshin won in 2005? The Central League didn't have playoffs then (and they were drawn and quartered by Lotte who did).

But the reason that I think that the celebrations will be reduced whether there are playoffs or not is because the Tigers fans have gotten used to winning. You see, between 1985 and 2003, this is the number of times Hanshin had placed in each of the other spots:
    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
2 1* 1 3* 2 10
* Tied with the Giants for 2nd place in 1992
* Tied with Yakult for 4th place in 1994

Hanshin fans knew nothing but the cellar for most of the 17 years between pennants. To go that long losing that many games, the fans in 2003 felt something that many hadn't experienced their whole lives - winning! That made 2003 special. I seem to recall the 2005 celebrations to have been rather tame in comparison. Yet they won the Pennant.

The BayStars went from 1960 (Taiyo Whales in Kawasaki) until 1998 to win their second pennant. I remember the euphoria of winning that championship, then defeating the Lions in the Nippon Series. Granted, I wasn't a fan for the 38 years in between, but it was an incredible feeling. I want to feel that again. And I'd like to see the 'Stars go the Nippon Series again before 2036, which appears to be scheduled for their next Pennant victory. Would I like to see them win both the Pennant and the Nippon Series? Of course. But I can't hold my breath for another 28 years. (That's my ad hominem appeal. Did it work?)

Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 14, 2008 6:04 PM | HT Fan ]

westbaystars, as site admin and originator you deserve a response. This will most likely be my last post on this thread.

- Hanshin fans knew nothing but the cellar for most of the 17 years between pennants. To go that long losing that many games, the fans in 2003 felt something that many hadn't experienced their whole lives - winning! That made 2003 special. I seem to recall the 2005 celebrations to have been rather tame in comparison. Yet they won the Pennant.

That's right, they did win the pennant in 2005. That year the PL had a playoff but not the CL. And yes the 2005 celebration was mild in comparison to wild jubilation in 2003.

- That's my ad hominem appeal. Did it work?

Ad hominems can be very powerful. I'm not quite clear if you support the playoff system from your previous post, so I cannot answer that question.

- But the reason that I think that the celebrations will be reduced whether there are playoffs or not is because the Tigers fans have gotten used to winning.

Yes, that is correct. Remember The Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004? Their first win in 86 years? I'm sure that was very special to lifelong Sox fans and that euphoria will not be duplicated if they win again.

In conclusion I want to write about fairness. Forget about whether it is more exciting or not. Let's not consider that the playoffs extend the season giving us more baseball to enjoy. Or that large sums of money are generated by the playoff system. I believe the pennant system is more honorable because it rewards the team that has persevered over an entire season.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Sep 13, 2008 10:33 PM ]

I do not like to repeat myself, but it seems in this case I have to. The pennant is not the holy grail, it's a small flag that is a token of winning the league championship. That is all. How the team wins is not connected to if a pennant is awarded. Hope that makes sense to you larryo this time around.

Regarding your weak and inconsequential point about playing the game, the last time I checked it is the fans that pay to see the players and not other way around. Again, let me make it simple, the game exists for fans. The playoff brings more fans into the game. End of discussion. You can be a purist if you start your own league which, based on your posts, will be watched by one person. You.

Please wind that clock and bring yourself up from the 1970s. All professional leagues in the US and Japan have playoffs. Football, baseball, soccer, and basketball all have them and they are a great success for the fans, and also for the majority of players, too. Your weak argument overlooks the fact that the playoffs allow more players to have a chance to win the Series. Fancy that, the playoffs are better for the players, too.

Taking a losing point and insulting others to try to make it seem of value is a political ploy. This is a baseball forum.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 14, 2008 9:42 AM | HT Fan ]

- [...] Taking a losing point and insulting others to try to make it seem of value is a political ploy. This is a baseball forum.

Political ploy? LOL. Funny you never answered my question. You never played baseball, yes?
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Sep 15, 2008 12:58 AM | NIP Fan ]

I would like to point out that maybe, with the exception of Ayumi Kataoka, females haven't played professional baseball. Does that mean, by your logic, that we are automatically disqualified from weighing in on this issue? That we can't possibly begin to appreciate how awesome the playoffs system is, just because we haven't played baseball? So roughly half of the baseball fans out there simply can't possibly have a valid viewpoint?

(You must understand that this is why I think you're just making this stuff up, because it completely defies all logic.)
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: PLNara | Posted: Sep 15, 2008 11:35 PM | HT Fan ]

If we're going to use an example of a dramatic finish to a pennant race, we might as well have one from NPB [YouTube].

P.S. There is nothing stopping this from happening in the playoffs.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: sangubashi | Posted: Sep 22, 2008 3:08 PM | TYS Fan ]

Well now that you have alienated everyone on the forum larryo, I've played pretty much every sport. And just because you keep coming back to the same YouTube clip from "the shot heard around the world," and even though that's one of the most famous baseball moments ever, it doesn't mean that the additions of playoffs/wildcards are a bad thing. If there were no playoffs there would be 3 less teams competing at their fullest abilities right now. And over half of the Central League wouldn't care about the games being played even a month ago.

I don't know about you and all of your baseball experience, but I'm going to say that I've played enough to know whatever it is that you expect for being an authority on the subject. Still, I completely disagree with pretty much every word you have typed. Oh and that apparently women can't know anything either, and I'm pretty sure Deanna has a more informed opinion than 99% of the people that follow baseball (NPB or MLB), and you are probably in the 99%.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: larryo | Posted: Sep 22, 2008 8:48 PM | HT Fan ]

As I write this the Giants have come from 13 games behind in August and 7 games behind at the beginning of this month to tie the Tigers for first place. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a pennant race. It is exciting. With the tremendous momentum the Kyojin have going for them now it will be very difficult for Hanshin to finish in first place. Disheartening for me as I am a Tiger's fan.

Now to sangubashi's post-

- Well now that you have alienated everyone on the forum larryo, I've played pretty much every sport.

I don't think I've alienated everyone. Why don't you read the posts on this thread before you make such a blanket statement? Pay attention to what westbaystars (he is the site admin) posts on this thread.

- If there were no playoffs there would be 3 less teams competing at their fullest abilities right now. And over half of the Central League wouldn't care about the games being played even a month ago.

Sangubashi I couldn't care less for the battle between Hiroshima and Chunichi for the third place spot. Not only do I not care, I shouldn't have to care because neither team will win the pennant. The fact that the third and fourth place finishers play at a higher level at the end of the season is the weakest argument I have heard for the playoff system. Who cares?

- Still, I completely disagree with pretty much every word you have typed. Oh and that apparently women can't know anything either, and I'm pretty sure Deanna has a more informed opinion than 99% of the people that follow baseball (NPB or MLB), and you are probably in the 99%.

Nope sangubashi, I am one of the one percenters. lol
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Sep 23, 2008 5:26 PM ]

Well, finishing first and winning the pennant is still meaningful. And the 1 game advantage combined with getting to play all 2nd stage games at home is huge in a 6 game series (due to the 1 game advantage). So, this is quite exciting at both ends of the playoff picture for the CL with Hanshin vs. Yomiuri for 1st and Chunichi vs. Hiroshima for 3rd.
Re: Playoffs are a Disgrace
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Sep 23, 2008 5:30 PM ]

Bunching up the dates between 1st and 2nd stages of the playoffs would've given more advantage to the 1st place team though, as the team that wins the 1st stage. As it is right now, there are 5 days in between the first game of stage 1 and the first game of stage 2, so the lower ranked team's rotation won't be at a disadvantage. Maybe NPB brass thought that it's better business to have ace vs. ace match ups in the 2nd stage instead of giving further advantage to the 1st place finisher (and they might be right, the Matsuzaka vs. Saitoh match up was legendary).
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