Monday, October 22, 2012

BCS Bashfest 2012

I'm sure the annual tradition of putting down the BCS has been going on everywhere since the first set of rankings came out just over a week ago.  It's only natural that when you throw 124 teams into one list of best to worst that only a handful of them will be happy while the rest moan and groan about the results.  As a Rutgers fan, I could not be happier with this year.  Number 15 in the nation, and undefeated at 7-0 is absolutely fantastic.  We're not at the top of the BCS rankings, nor do I think we should be.  Moreover, I'm not expecting my team to be playing for a National Title, but a Big East title and BCS bowl would be great.

Nevertheless, half of the Rutgers online community I frequent is up and arms about the fact that Rutgers did not move up a single spot this week while a certain former Big East school with back to back losses has only fallen to 19th.  From there, the conversation translated into the lack of respect the Big East gets, and how a 12-0 Big East school would not be in the running for a BCS National Title Game berth, and may not even be in the running for one of the four playoff spots next year.  To me, that is nothing short of unsubstantiated paranoia.

First, let's acknowledge that a 12-0 Big East team will certainly not get the level of respect this year as a 12-0 from any other BCS conference.  That simply won't happen.  Not saying whether they should or should not, but simply put, they won't.  Of course, that is assuming a 12-0 team even exists at the end of the season (Rutgers and Louisville are the only remaining unbeatens).  That isn't a surprise really, and falls in line with history over the past decade.  However, the discrepancy is not what some may think.

While the human polls are extremely biased, largely due to the stupidity of preseason polls, the BCS does not exactly force matchups that are not there.  Some like to spew that a 2-loss SEC is more highly regarded than some undefeated teams, or other 1-loss teams.  That really isn't the case except when it comes to BCS busters (and that truly is a while other argument).

In fact, since the BCS began in 1998, only once has a BCS team been chosen for a National Championship berth over another BCS team that had a superior overall record.  Never, ever, ever, ever has an undefeated BCS team been passed over by a 1-loss BCS team.  People seem to think the SEC continues to send overrated teams each season to the National Championship.  They clearly are not overrated when they win every year (not counting the travesty of last year), but more over, they never make it over more deserving Big East, ACC, Pac-12, etc. teams.

The only time a team with an inferior record showed up in a National Championship Game was following the 2007 season when 2-loss LSU went and beat Ohio State.  However, it should be recognized that the only team aside from Ohio State that had 1-loss was Kansas.  Kansas played a far weaker schedule that season, and didn't win the Big 12 or even the Big 12 North that season.  They dodged playing he Big 12 Champion, Oklahoma that year, by losing to Missouri, and thus couldn't play in the Big 12 Championship Game.

All that being said, an undefeated Big East team was passed up recently because of the biased of the polls.  In 2009, the preseason polls didn't rank a single Big East team in the top 25.  Cincinnati ran the table at 12-0, moving up to #3 by the time of the final BCS poll.  However, the Big 12 Championship (between 12-0 Texas and Nebraska) came down to the final play of the game.  Texas won, holding onto a 13-0 record, and played in the National Championship against 13-0 Alabama.  Had a borderline call on the last play of the Big 12 Championship went the other way, Cincinnati would have played Alabama for the National Title.  To be quite honest, Cincinnati deserved to be the team left out in the dark that year.  Instead, they played 12-1 Florida (Florida's only loss came to Alabama in the SEC Championship) in the Sugar Bowl, and were promptly crushed.

The Big East has had other chances, but until they can deliver undefeated teams it is not to be.  In 2006, three teams (Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia) went undefeated into November.  The three of them each beat one another, and Rutgers and West Virginia both lost an additional game that month.  Louisville had been 9-0 and #3 in the nation.  A win over Rutgers would have sealed a 12-0 season for them and all but guaranteed a National Title berth.  Ironically, an undefeated Rutgers team that season may have in fact been passed over by a 1-loss SEC team that year because Rutgers began the first four weeks of their season unranked.  Sadly, we are never able to see what could have happened if they ran the table as it may have argued against the whole point here.

A year later in 2007, a 10-1 West Virginia team climbed to #2 in the nation.  People seem to forget the Big East had two teams reach #2 in 2007 (South Florida being the other in mid-October), and everyone almost certainly forgets West Virginia did it in the final week of the season with one loss.  However, an incredible choke job on their part in the final game of the year against Pittsburgh cost them a chance at the title.  In fact, they were ranked above #3 11-1 Ohio State, and the aforementioned 11-1 Kansas team.  However, the loss not only dropped them to #9, it meant they only tied for the Big East Championship (with UConn).

That was followed two years later by the Cincinnati incident I mentioned above.  It proves the point the Big East is in the running for National Championships, but they need to win out to do it.  While a 1-loss may never make it to the title game (2007 was an incredible fluky season), that is often the way it is for many BCS conferences.  One-loss Pac-12 teams have not been considered over the past few years, and last year there was an SEC rematch because Oklahoma State lost their final game of the season.  Point is, the Big East is not that far behind everyone else in that regard.  Should Rutgers or Louisville continue their run at perfection this year, and others fall out from the mix, they could easily be in the conversation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lockouts Add Up...Quick

It seems the NHL and the Players Association are coming closer to reaching an agreement that will not only allow for an NHL season, but allow for a full 82-game NHL season.  Obviously, all hockey fans want an NHL season.  However, it's especially important given that no major sports league in the nation has missed as much time in action as the NHL.  Looking at the past 40 years, here is the percentage of regular season games missed due to strikes, lockouts, etc. for each major league:
  1. NHL - 4.3% (missing 1,698 out of 39,173 possible games)
  2. MLB - 2.4% (missing 2,156 out of 89,262 possible games)
  3. NFL - 1.67% (missing 154 out of 9,192 possible games)
  4. NBA - 1.66% (missing 704 out of 42,230 possible games)
The issue is all the more troubling because all of the NHL's trouble has occurred in the last 20 years due to the lockouts in 1994 and 2004.  Ignore the first two decades from the above mentioned stats, and the percentages are as follows:
  1. NHL - 7.3%
  2. MLB - 3.0%
  3. NBA - 2.9%
  4. NFL - 0.0%
The NFL almost ruined it's recent good run last year, but instead only lost preseason time.  Clearly, the NFL knew the importance that if they wanted to remain the nation's predominant sport, they needed to be on the field.  MLB lost the latter part of it's 1994 season, and the first few weeks of 1995 to their last strke, and it took years to make up for it.  Many fans still have no returned since then.

However, the NHL seems to have no issue with rolling the dice on these situations.  While, the sport may luck out, and not lose any games after all this year (only a delayed start), if they do lose any games, it would be their third lockout resulting in such since 1994.  The last league to lose games to three different lockouts was Major League Baseball, and they were far more spread out (1972, 1981, 1994-5).

The 7.3% of games lost in the last two decades is already poor enough, but just to prove our devastating it would be if the 2012-13 season was indeed lost, here are what the new 20-year percentages would look like:
  1. NHL - 12.4%
  2. MLB - 3.0%
  3. NBA - 2.9%
  4. NFL - 0.0%
Losing 12.4% of NHL games in a 20-year stretch is akin to losing close to 3,000 games total, almost two and a half seasons worth.  Keep it up NHL, and it won't be long at all before Major League Soccer replaces you as one of the main four sports leagues in the country.

Lose One Game and Why Bother?

Here's a random factoid regarding one of the two teams remaining in contention for the American League Pennant.  Prior to 1969, there were no divisions in Major League Baseball, only the American and National Leagues, so the post-season consisted only of the World Series.  It was only with the invention of the East and West divisions in each league that the League Championship Series (ALCS/NLCS) came into existence.  It was only in 1995 (first completed season with three divisions and a wildcard) that the Division Series came into existence.

Over that time, the Detroit Tigers have reached the playoffs six times including this season.  In the three times since 1995 (2006, 11, 12), they have won their division series, meaning they have played in the ALCS, or played for a Pennant in each of those appearances.  Twice, the Tigers would win the American League Pennant, losing three times, and the sixth has obviously yet to be completed.  In the years they won (1984 and 2006), the Tigers swept their opponent in the ALCS.  Maybe by pure coincidence, the Tigers are only a game away from winning their third AL Pennant since playoff expansion began, and are on the verge of sweeping yet again as they are up 3-0 over the New York Yankees.

The Tigers are the only team to sweep an ALCS (having done it twice) since 1990 when the Oakland Athletics completed the feat.  Also, the last team to sweep the ALCS and go on to win the World Series that year was the 1984 Detroit Tigers, although the ALCS was only a best-of-five at the time.  Note that the Atlanta Braves swept the NLCS in 1995 en route to their own World Series victory.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Double Feature

Prior to tonight's playoffs games, there was one walkoff in this relatively young postseason.  It ca:me in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics, when Don Kelly of the Tigers hit a sacrifice fly to score Omar Infante, helping his team to win 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth.  It is worth noting that despite scoring a run and driving in an RBI in that game, Kelly is considered to have gone 0-for-0 in the game.  As a pinch runner in the 8th inning for Delmon Young, he scored from third on a wild pitch prior to his heroics in the 9th.

In any event, tonight, two more walkoff wins were added to the list of memorable playoff moments.  First, Raul Ibanez hit not one, but two solo home runs to help lead the New York Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.  His first was a tying home run in the bottom of the ninth before he repeated his feat in the bottom of the twelfth to win it.  Later in the night, the A's capped off a three-run ninth inning to come from behind in not only the game, but the series (now tied 2-2) on an RBI single.

These were the 129th and 130th walkoff wins in MLB playoff history.  However, it is only the sixth time that multiple playoff walkoffs have occurred on the same day.  Here is a list of the other five:

October 11, 1986:
  • New York Mets over the Houston Astros 6-5
  • California Angels over the Boston Red Sox 4-3
October 1, 1998:
  • Atlanta Braves over the Chicago Cubs 2-1
  • Houston Astros over the San Diego Padres 5-4
  October 18, 2004:
  • Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees 5-4
  • Houston Astros over the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0
October 5, 2007:
  • Boston Red Sox over the Los Angeles Angels 6-3
  • Cleveland Indians over the New York Yankees 2-1
 October 19, 2009:
  • Los Angels Angels over the New York Yankees 5-4
  • Philadelphia Phillies over the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blame Game Gone Wrong

This post may come with a little bit of a gag reflex, but I'm going to try to power through it anyway.  There are five current New York Yankees who have played at least three full postseasons with the Yankees (2009-2012).  Those players current sport these stat lines (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS) since 2009 in the playoffs, along with how many games they started over the period:
  1. .261/.388/.486/.875 (31 GS)
  2. .262/.316/.508/.824 (31 GS)
  3. .307/.367/.453/.819 (31 GS)
  4. .193/.295/.316/.611 (29 GS)
  5. .160/.262/.321/.583 (30 GS)
They are ordered there based on the highest to lowest OPS, and more than likely the best to worst overall.  Maybe you could make an argument that the second and third ranked ones should be swapped, but there is no question the best line is at the top, and the worst two are at the bottom.

Now let me preface this next part by pointing out how much I despise most of these players, but none more than Alex Rodriguez.  Of course, when you link actual players to these numbers, you get the following:
  1. Alex Rodriguez
  2. Robinson Cano
  3. Derek Jeter
  4. Mark Teixeira
  5. Nick Swisher
Ironically, the majority of the attention that is on the Yankees right now is focused on Alex Rodriguez's dismal series...all two games of it, and to be fair, if I only looked at 2011 (Yankees only played five games), the numbers would be very skewed against Rodriguez.  Clearly, Rodriguez is on the down slope of his steroid-induced career.  He is 36 after all, and some people seem to think it is a mystery that he isn't in the running for 40 HRs a year.  I would focus on the positive, such that he still reached base at a .353 clip this season, good for putting him in the top half of OBPs in the Yankees lineup.

I know Rodriguez commands a ridiculous $30 million a year, and therefore the focus is on him; however, people seem to forget that a guy like Teixeira makes well over $20 million a year, and Swisher commands more than $10 million despite acting like a double agent come each October.

Rodriguez is past is prime, but acting as if he is the one holding the Yankees back is starting to become laughable.  Should Rodriguez be moved in the lineup?  He certainly shouldn't be batting in the middle of the order for the Yankees.  Nonetheless, should there not be more focus on guys like Swisher who have proven year after year they can't see the ball in the postseason?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Other Bayou State Team

Props to Louisiana Tech.  So often in college football, we spend the first half of the season only paying attention to the undefeated teams that we know will matter, that we fail to acknowledge the great runs some lesser teams may have.

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are very unlikely to go undefeated this season, and more than likely will lose their first game this weekend to a ranked SEC team (Texas A&M).  After all, there high scoring offense, averaging 53.2 points per game, is very much countered by no defense that makes each game look like an Arena Football League.  Nonetheless, they are 5-0, and despite playing in the lowly MAC, they have two wins on the road against BCS teams (Illinois and Virginia).

There success was rewarded this week when the AP Poll voted them #23 in the nation.  This is the highest Louisiana Tech has ever been ranked, and only the second week they have ever reached that level.  The previous time came in 1999 when the Bulldogs narrowly reached #25 in the nation.  After losing their first two games to #1 Florida State (eventual National Champion) and #6 Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech rallied to win 8 games in a row, reaching the #25 ranking for the final week of the regular season.  Unfortunately for them, they were blown out in their final game that year, losing to a mediocre USC team.  Perhaps this year, the Bulldogs can find a little more magic and keep their great start alive.

Remaining Undefeated FBS Teams in 2012 (16):
  1. Alabama 5-0
  2. Cincinnati 4-0
  3. Florida 5-0
  4. Kansas State 5-0
  5. Louisiana Tech 5-0
  6. Louisville 5-0
  7. Mississippi State 5-0
  8. Notre Dame 5-0
  9. Ohio 6-0
  10. Ohio State 6-0
  11. Oregon 6-0
  12. Oregon State 4-0
  13. Rutgers 5-0 
  14. South Carolina 6-0
  15. Texas-San Antonio 5-0
  16. West Virginia 5-0
Remaining Winless FBS Teams in 2012 ():
  1. Eastern Michigan 0-5
  2. Massachusetts 0-6
  3. Southern Miss. 0-5
  4. Tulane 0-5

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Overrated Seminoles and ACC Mediocrity

It's October which means it's that usual time of the year where we find out just how overrated the ACC is in football...yet again.  Year after year, the voters seem insistent on throwing as many teams at the top 25 in the preseason to see how many can stick.  More often than not, those teams do not stick, and those who do, rarely are rated as high as they were in the preseason.

Since the ACC has come to its current existence (2005), the conference has had on average 3.5 teams ranked each preseason.  This year, they had only 3, although all of them were ranked within the top 16 to begin the year.  Now, a mere six weeks into the season, the ACC is sporting a pathetic 11-15 record against out-of-conference FBS teams.  For comparison, the Big East which more often than not is mediocre (although consistently rated far worse) is 12-9 on the year.

This includes losses such as Preseason #16 Virginia Tech who lost handily to Pitt, only two weeks after Pitt lost to Youngstown State.  If anything, Pitt is doing an excellent job of proving to everyone else that they will fit in the most overrated conference just fine next year.  In addition, today we saw Boston College lost to Army, an Army program that was not beaten, but rather run over by Stony Brook University just last week.

The catch is, the ACC gets so overrated in the Preseason polls that when an upset does occur, it is magnified far too much.  Props given to the North Carolina State Wolfpack tonight for defeating the Florida State Seminoles.  However, make not mistake, these Seminoles were not the 3rd best team in the nation as their ranking this week would indicate.  They merely took their exaggerated preseason ranking (7th), and passed the couple of top ten teams that have lost.  However, now the voters will see NC State beat the #3 team in the nation this week, and they will likely be ranked close to 20th come Sunday afternoon.

Florida State is perhaps the epitome of being overrated in the college football world.  I don't feel that people understand that what FSU did in the 1990s should have no baring on what they do two decades later.  In fact, since the current ACC setup came around in 2005, the Seminoles have been ranked in the preseason AP poll every season but once (2008):

2005 - 14th
2006 - 11th
2007 - 19th
2009 - 18th
2010 - 20th
2011 - 6th
2012 - 7th

In only one of those seasons did they even manage to remain ranked as high as they began the season:

2005 - 23rd (8-5)
2006 - Unranked (7-6)
2007 - Unranked (7-6)
2009 - Unranked (7-6)
2010 - 17th (10-4)
2011 - 23rd (9-4)
2012 - ?????

Would it really be a big shock if they lost five games on the year and finished the season ranked in the low 20s?  The only purpose Florida State has served in the ACC since 2005 is to inflate the rankings of the many teams who continue to beat them each season.

The ridiculousness that is the overrating of these teams doesn't end with Florida State, they are simply the most frequently occurring.  Since 2005 (not including this year), the ACC has had 25 teams ranked in the preseason.  Of those 25 teams, only 5 have seen their ranking improve over the course of a season, and 1 has stayed the same.

That leaves 19 of 25 (76%), including the five FSU examples above, that have finished the season ranked worse than where they began.  Some programs included in this are four times by Virginia Tech, and likely a fifth this year.  Miami has seen the preseason polls three times since 2005, losing 8 spots one year, and finding themselves unranked the two other seasons.  Four appearances combined by North Carolina, Virginia, and Wake Forest during the preseason has never seen any of them hang around until the end of the year, and all of them lost no less than five games each.

It truly is a stale story at this point, but time and time again, the ACC has proven that it is nothing more than a mediocre conference.  As a fan of a Big East team, I've never thought much of anything about the Big East itself.  It is middle of the road at best.  Nonetheless, despite the ACC's constant raids, and the Big East refueling with C-USA members, history has proven that the Big East consistently has been on par if not better than the ACC.  Therefore, it would only make sense to conclude that the ACC is nothing more than a mediocre mid-major conference sporting "name" state schools over directional schools.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Computers Don't Kill Polls, People Kill Polls II

Last month I called out Ray Ratto of the Comcast Sports Bay Area for not simply ranking Texas State (who had only played one game at the FBS level t the time) in his top 25, but for ranking them 16th overall.  It was a ridiculously pathetic move to try to gain attention in my book.  Ratto is known for doing this on a regular basis, and I simply have to wonder why he is even allowed to vote in this poll when his only goal seems to be chaos.

This week, I noticed he did it again, and I find it only fair to bring attention to it despite it being in favor of my alum Rutgers Scarlet Knights.  Rutgers has found its way into the bottom fifth of the AP, and probably rightfully so, 22nd/21st, in the two major polls.  Nonetheless, I see that Ratto is out there to shake things up again.  He currently has the Knights sitting 12th in his poll, a position that no one in their right mind could suggest at this point in the season.  No one else has them higher than 17th (and that is a local New Jersey writer at least).

Again, I strongly stress the point that the computers don't screw up the system so much as the humans who vote in it.  CFEC anyone?  The College Football Electoral College?  Just a thought.

More Playoff Teams = Bad for Competition

First, my apologies for disappearing for a month.  A combination of a lot of travel, work, and a laptop that passed away led me away from here.  Now that things are getting back to normal, I hope to find more time to devote to here.

One thing I've claimed in the past, and continue to stick by, is that large playoff formats are bad for competition.  The NHL and NBA allowing more than half of the league into the postseason does little more than create chaos rather than reward teams who played well over the 82-game season as opposed to a hot streak in the spring.  Even in college football, I'm a fan of a smaller playoff, four to eight teams at the very most, because I've never heard any sort of argument as to why the 12th ranked team should have a shot at a National Title merely because they won the C-USA.

Over the years, baseball was the one exception to the rule.  For everything that people don't like about baseball, I believe they get more right than wrong.  No salary cap?  It hurts, but notice which league the lockouts have occurred in over the past 14 months (NFL, NBA, NHL).  Nevertheless, that's a post for another day (and I promise there will be one on that).  Prior to this season, baseball had been allowing eight teams to reach the playoffs each season out of thirty.  I've never been a big fan of the wildcard, but I can understand the need for a multiple of four when it comes to teams.

This year, Bud Selig in his continued attempt to make a name for himself with no regard for the game, added two more teams to ten.  Of course, fans of this move will point out it is a one-game series (played today for both the American and National Leagues), and it leaves the winners in the same position as the previous wild card teams.  If there was a Congressional bill that declared it would remain this way for the next century, I could live with it, but sadly I feel this is just the beginning of expanding the playoff system.  Look at the history of every other league, and you will see the expansion just builds off of itself.

To be fair, the now 10 teams out of 30 (1/3 obviously), still make it the smallest playoff field of any of the major leagues.  The NFL is the next smallest at 12 out of 32 teams.  However, while fans in St. Louis or Los Angeles or Milwaukee might enjoy seeing their team play meaningful games in late September, fact of the matter is that they didn't deserve to be.

There is always going to be the argument that it makes for a better playoff race in September, but does it really?  In another decade, some will argue that if we added two more wild card spots, all the teams above .500 could be in the race.  The Major League Baseball season is 162 games for a reason.  It isn't meant to cater to every average team.  The only grueling part about the sport of baseball is the length of the season, so finishing a 162-game season above everyone else should be followed by a reward like the post-season.

An article on Yahoo by a former detractor of the new system has given praise to it now, saying it made the race far more interesting.  I could not agree less.  Let's look at the National League first.  Suffice to say there was not much to be said for the last week of the MLB season.  The Los Angeles Dodgers trailed the St. Louis Cardinals by three games, and they cut the lead to two.  That is the only additional excitement this new wild card added to the NL this season.  If it was not there, the playoffs would have been locked up one week earlier with the Braves grabbing the last spot, and they still gave the Washington Nationals a little bit of a chase for the division title.  Therefore, I think we can conclude the wild card did nothing here.

In the AL on the other hand, no one knew who was making the playoffs until this past weekend, BUT that did not have to do with the new wild card.  Ironically, the new format played no role at all in this equation except for keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the race longer.  The wild card teams of the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers will face off today in a one-game series.  If there was no additional wild card team, these teams having already tied in the standings...would have faced off today in a one-game series.  IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE TO THE OUTCOME!

The article points out the great races in the AL this year, but they were for division titles and had no baring on the new wild card spot.  All three division titles in the AL were decided this past weekend, with or without the extra spot!

For anyone who might shrug this year off as an anomaly, does one recall the end of the 2011 MLB season?  Last year may have been the best playoff races since the wild card was introduced in 1995.  On the final day of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays capped off amazing comebacks on the final day of the season to beat the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox. It was arguably the most terrific September for baseball I recall, and that's coming from a Mets fan who saw his team finish with 85 losses.  Introduce a second wild card for last year, and the entire month would have been ruined because rather than a playoff race, you have all of the aforementioned teams in the playoffs, including those who choked on their way out.

For a more analytical point of view, let's look at it this way.  If we ignore the National League division winners (Washington, Cincinnati, and San Francisco), and look just at the remaining NL teams, we can get an idea of how much better the Braves were over the Cardinals (the two wild card teams).  After all, the MLB season is 162 games, and the best teams compared to the worst ones only win about 30% more of their games.

Atlanta: 94-68 (.580)
St. Louis:  88-74 (.543)
Houston:  55-107 (.340)

Let's suggest the entire season was replayed without the three division winners.  Maybe the records wouldn't be quite the same, but they should be close.  After all, we're taking the best team from each division out, so all the teams should do slightly better.

If we determine the best remaining team (Atlanta Braves) is 100% better than than the last place team (Houston Astros), we can say 39 games is the exact difference between the first and last place teams, and it was here.  The Cardinals finished six games back of the Braves.  Assuming the Braves are 100% better than the Astros by record alone, we can decide that (6/39 = .154) the Braves are 15.4% better than the Cardinals.

That number probably does not seem like a lot, but in baseball, that 15.4% is huge.  If the best team each year went 162-0, and the worst went 0-162 (think about football where undefeated records and winless season are not impossible), that would put the Cardinals an entire 25 games back of the Braves.

For you NFL fans, in 2007, the New England Patriots went 16-0 on the year, and the Indianapolis Colts went 13-3.  Would anyone have really suggested the Colts were as good as the Patriots following the regular season that year?  The difference between those two teams were merely 18% when you look at their record.

The point is, in baseball, all the teams generally finish within a winning percentage of .325-.625, a small margin that when played over 162 games looks only slightly larger, so when a team finishes six games back in a playoff race, do they really deserve a shot at the team that finished six games ahead?  Making matters worst, should a series ever be decided by one game when a team consists of a five-man rotation?  The Cardinals only need one Cy Young candidate to pitch one good game, and they will have passed a team that truly outdid them over the course of a season.

The answer to the above mentioned questions is a simple no.