The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Wild Cards Diluted MLB

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I've covered both sports, and I used to think there was nothing better than postseason baseball. But there is: postseason football.

Look, baseball used to have the most perfect system for crowning its champion. The long, long regular season rewarded only the best teams after a six-month weeding-out process, as only division winners qualified for the playoffs. A best-of-seven postseason series didn't always determine the better team, but more often than not it did. The team that won the World Series truly was the sport's best team that year.

But then baseball went to wild cards. That improved the regular season--more teams stay in contention longer, so more late-season games are meaningful--but it watered down the playoffs. When a wild-card team wins the World Series, it can't rightfully claim to be the sport's best team that season. If it was, it would have won its division over the course of a 162-game season.

So baseball no longer has that edge on football. Both sports' postseasons are watered down, and neither results in the crowning of a champion that is undoubtedly that year's top team.

So, then, it comes down to the on-field product, the games themselves. And while postseason baseball games provide great drama, there is nothing like the intensity of postseason football. There is nothing quite like the sense of anticipation moments before kickoff at an NFL playoff game.

Playoff baseball is good.

But postseason football is unmatched.

By Mark Maske  |  October 1, 2008; 9:55 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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I agree, the wild card isn't as pure, but that horse is long out of the barn. But, Interleague play has thrown a wrench in the contention that the team with the best division record over 162 games is the best team.

Posted by: delOH | October 2, 2008 7:54 AM

Obviously, the "fairest" way to determine the champion is to have all teams play a balanced schedule over however many games, and crown a champion without playoffs. But that would be boring as hell to watch. In a year with a team that wins 110+ games (e.g. '98 Yankees or '01 Mariners), the rest of the league might as well pack it in by the trade deadline. MLB and the NFL have the best balance of regular season importance and # of playoff teams. My only problem with MLB playoffs is the extra off days between games.

Posted by: dckwanzaa | October 2, 2008 12:20 PM

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