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Entries in Colin Cowherd (1)

Friday
Oct162009

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.

None.

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.