The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

October 22, 2012

Thoma column: Money is the object in baseball postseason

We don’t know who will win the World Series this year, but we do know the winner won’t have a legitimate claim to being the best team.

The Detroit Tigers will represent the American League; their 88-74 record was only the seventh best mark in a 14-team league.

In the National League, there’s still a chance — actually now a pretty good one — that the third-best record (San Francisco Giants at 94-68) will advance. Otherwise it will be the St. Louis Cardinals, the No. 5 record, whose 88-74 mark matches that of the Tigers.

This might be the best way to identify a “purist”: If it bothers you that an 88-win team can win the World Series while a 98-win team (the Washington Nationals) is out hunting, you’re a purist.

I’m a purist. An honest one, if I may say so; as delighted as the Twins made me in 1987, I can never shake the knowledge that they had just the fifth best record in the American League that season (85-77).

The 1987 Twins won the World Series. That doesn’t make them the best team that year.

Professional baseball, by definition, is more about the money than the competition. Bud Selig and his co-conspirators with the players union and the television networks want to maximize the dollars, not reward quality.

That’s why we have an expanded playoff system that inevitably degrades the value of the regular season and creates the illusion of pennant races when, by traditional standards, there are none.

And it explains regular season schedules in which division rivals play markedly different opponents.

The new format this year, with two wild-card teams per league in a one-game play-in, had the merit of enhancing the value of a division title. It did nothing to make it more difficult for a weaker team to emerge as the champion.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Pineda: Put pine tar because he didn't want to hit anyone Farrell on Pineda: 'When it's that obvious, something has to be said' Wrigley Field celebrates 100th birthday Phelps returns to the pool Tour Confidential: What Impact Will Tiger's Absence Have on Golf? Pujols joins 500 club Wall: 'This was a make or break year for me' Klatt's Mock Draft: Top 10 Klatt's Mock Draft: Late 1st round Marcus Spears: Cowboys Needs on Draft Day Could Bridgewater Make Scouts Look Foolish? NFL Draft: Will Manziel Be Off The Board By Pick No. 4? Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes Race to avoid Premier League relegation heats up The many faces of Mike Woodson Draft Preview: Ego Ferguson Chelsea, Atletico set to do battle in Champions League With The Twelfth Pick, The New York Giants Select... Rosenthal: Trout's contract was a compromise Trail Blazers battle back, overcome Rockets in OT