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Baseball Shows The Flaws In A Playoff, Again

Was just channel flipping and caught the end of a conversation between Steve Phillips and Colin Cowherd on some ESPN show.  The gist of their conversation was that playoff baseball with days off isn't structured to determine what team is the best especially in relation to the regular season which has teams playing almost daily.  Instead, success tends to shift to teams with impact players (read: the ones with the financial resources).

Its an interesting consideration especially when so much of the playoff talk in college football is about fairness and letting the little guy get in on the action.  What programs have the resources to acquire the great bulk of impact players?  The big guys, of course --- USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, etc.

Whether that extrapolates to college football I'm unsure but I certainly think a playoff (just like the bowls) is distinctive from the regular season and is structurally set up to reward differently than what success in the regular season means.  Not enough attention is paid to the distinctions.  I think back often to Billy Beane's thoughts in Moneyball about only caring that he get his team to the playoffs in the first place because after that, playoff baseball was a crapshoot that no amount of his tinkering could really influence the outcome.  That is, entirely too much outside noise gummed up the works to reward not necessarily superior teams but merely the lucky.

It blows my mind that postseason success could be much more random than about the atual ability of the various teams.  Playoff advocates need to think long and hard about that consideration and try to find (if even possible) how to manage the randomness of it all, and if they can't find a smart way to do it, step back from the megaphone.

Look, I'm not anti playoff.  There's a few that I think work fairly well but you have to structure them appropriately.  In my mind there's simply no way, however, to appropriately organize a college football playoff.


Even in baseball where you have a series of games between teams, the randomness of the game is so large the format still doesn't always advance the generally superior regular season teams.

The NFL playoffs are great entertainment, but they're one and done.  While there's certainly something significant to teams having just one game to advance or disappear, there's still so much noise to just a one game situation from weather to officiating to health to a million other factors.  The only way in my mind to fairly reduce that and have the teams truly prove themselves beyond the noise (and not within the fog of it) is to play a series of games between them which is obviously unfeasible in college football.

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Reader Comments (10)

Even if a playoff is a "crapshoot", it beats the heck of this foolishness created by the BCS. I hear no complaining and whinning when the NCAA's other division crowns their NC with a 16 team playoff.

If you get your butt beat on the field, you shut up and go home.
October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy
I'll tell you what. I'll stop wanting a playoff if you give me two things: a system for scheduling that forces teams to play more equitable schedules across the board and an end to all guaranteed conference affiliations for bowls. If TCU or Boise St were able to play in the Cotton Bowl or the Gator Bowl, the BCS nonsense wouldn't be so critical. And a system that forces teams to play "scary" teams rather than 1-AA teams would only make the regular season better, and isn't that what bowl lovers say is the most important thing?
October 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteryocoolz
I used to be a staunch advocate for a playoff system, until I learned about the financial hit the NCAA and the universities would potentially take. Given, the economics of it all, I don't believe a playoff system that benefits corporate sponsors vs the Universities is the right way to go. It would have to be done equitably. I agree with the notion that FBS schools should stick to playing FBS schools. If they CHOOSE to play FCS schools then it should not count in terms of rankings or Bowl eligibilty.
November 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCFBBlogger
Oh wow I didn't know that.. that is kind of sad!
April 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercollege los angeles
A typical look at does reflects your wealth, status and ability..
July 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhuangedison
Wealth and stability I'd say!
September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStream live football
I agree with the notion that FBS schools should stick to playing FBS schools.If they CHOOSE to play FCS schools then it should not count in terms of rankings or Bowl eligibility.I hear no complaining and whinning when the NCAA's other division crowns their NC with a 16 team playoff.
February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteracoustic guitar
I often think back to Billy Beane thoughts in Money Ball for only care that he gets his team to the playoffs in the first game, because after that baseball was a shooting in the playoffs shit, no amount of his manipulations could really affect the outcome.
February 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteriş ilanları
I am a big fan of baseball... Its really great sport. Baseball is mine one of the favourite sport and I played lots of that sport in weekend.
August 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBest Penny Stock
I'd prefer cricket rather than baseball, because cricket is more cultured and involves a lot of techniques rather than just swinging the bat or throwing the ball.... Baseball is really dumb!!!
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDazzle Rogers

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