Golden League Baseball Playoffs Rant

Calgary and Edmonton

Short Version:

Calgary should host all the games of the North Division playoff series vs Edmonton, because Edmonton won jack squat did not win a divisional title this season.

Long Version:

In general, I’m a supporter of the current Golden Baseball League system for determining post-season appearances.  For the uninitiated – there may be one or two of you who Googled this page by accident – the GBL playoff-bound teams are determined as follows:

  1. Which ever team is in first place of their respective division (there are two divisions, North and South) once the season is half-way complete, gets a playoff spot.
  2. Which ever team is in first place of their respective division at the end of the season, not counting their first half record,  gets a playoff spot.

This system puts added importance on the early games of the season, and gives fans of teams who start slow (like Yuma this season) hope, since their team will be even with their competitors once again when the second half of the season starts.  It’s almost like getting two seasons in one.  Here’s a look at the current season:

2009 First Half:

North Division W L PCT GB
Calgary Vipers 26 13 0.667
Edmonton Capitals 23 18 0.561 4
Chico Outlaws 19 19 0.500 6.5
Victoria Seals 17 24 0.415 10
South Division W L PCT GB
St George Roadrunners 25 15 0.625
Long Beach Armada 20 18 0.526 4
Orange County Flyers 17 20 0.459 6.5
Tucson Toros 17 21 0.447 7
Yuma Scorpions 10 27 0.270 13.5

 2009 Second Half (so far):

North Division W L PCT GB
*Calgary Vipers 21 10 0.677
Edmonton Capitals 17 18 0.486 6
Victoria Seals 15 22 0.405 9
Chico Outlaws 11 21 0.344 10.5
South Division W L PCT GB
Tucson Toros 18 10 0.643
*St George Roadrunners 19 16 0.543 2.5
Yuma Scorpions 18 18 0.500 4
Orange County Flyers 16 16 0.500 4
Long Beach Armada 14 17 0.452 5.5

*clinched first-half playoff spot

Like I said, it’s almost like getting two seasons in one.  When a team that fails to win a divisional crown in either half  of the season still is awarded with a playoff spot, you begin to see the biggest weakness to this system.

With only six games left for both Edmonton and Calgary, and with the Vipers already holding the tie-breaker in their favour, there is no way the Capitals can win the division.  Since the Calgary Vipers won both the first and second-half North Division titles, the second playoff spot out of the North goes to the team with the next best overall record.  That’s right, Edmonton won nothing all season, but they still get a crack at a best-of-five first round playoff.

Golden League Baseball is professional baseball.  This isn’t should be horseshoes, where close counts.  What I’m trying to say is that the Edmonton Capitals should not be playoff bound as if they had won a division .   And no, this isn’t just our little provincial rivalry speaking.

Can the system be fixed?

As is, the system works very well when four different teams actually win the four available playoff spots.  The first and second-half North winners play each other in a best-of-five, and the same thing happens in the South.  Bliss.

But what if both first-half divisional winners also win the second-half division crowns?

This is where I would propose “Situational Playoff Seeding.”  It’s more complicated than the current system, but in a baseball era of BABiP, VORP, DIPS, and EqA, baseball fans thrive and feed off the complex.

So, if, for example, Calgary and St. George were to go wire-to-wire and win their divisions in both the first and second halves, they should be the only playoff bound teams.  And since they’ve already proved themselves to be special teams in this case, they should play a best-of-nine series (3-4-2) for the league title.

Things get trickier, however, in the next scenario:

If the season were to end today, Tucson, St. George, and Calgary will have earned their playoff spots by winning their division in either the first or second half of the season (or in Calgary’s case, both).  Having Calgary not play for five days while Tucson and St. George square off in a best-of-five is unfair for Calgary since they could go cold, lose rhythm, or lose focus while their eventual opponents hone their skills in meaningful games.

So who does Calgary play in the mean time?

Edmonton is the next best team in the North.  They may not have won anything, but you’d have to like Calgary’s chances in the finals a lot better if they were coming off a series win over Edmonton as opposed to a five-day lay-off, and Edmonton at the very least played better than Victoria or Chico did this season, if that means anythings.

But Edmonton still didn’t win anything all season.  Why should a normal playoff birth be gift-wrapped for them? 

It shouldn’t. 

Edmonton didn’t earn a normal playoff birth.  In the interest of making things slightly more fair (rewarding Calgary for winning the division twice, punishing Edmonton for not winning anything but still getting a playoff spot), Edmonton should not play host to any playoff games this off-season.  They didn’t earn a spot anyways, right?

To recap, here’s the Xolager Situational Playoff Proposal:

 Scenario  # of Division Winners  First Round Playoff Format  Championship Round Playoff Format
 A  4  Best of 5  Best of 5
 B  2  None  Best of 9
 C  3  Best of 5**  Best of 5**

**non-divisional winner hosts no games

Are you still out there Mr. Kevin Outcalt?  What do you think?

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2 Responses to Golden League Baseball Playoffs Rant

  1. dave says:

    I’ve been reading your blog fairly regularly for a couple months now. This is one of the few times I’d need to disagree with you. Sending a team on a 5-game road trip is a costly expenditure. Making it worse, is that team would also be making no extra revenue from the playoffs. Essentially penalizing them for being the 2nd best team. Sure, it wouldn’t be too bad if Edmonton had to play 5-games in Calgary, costs would be minimal. but imagine if Calgary had to take a 5-game road trip to Chico. Playoff games help win over a lot of fans. The more playoff games that can be played in as many markets as possible, the better.

  2. xolager says:

    Thanks for the comments, Dave.

    I think you make some really good points. I thought about the fans of the second place team, and they certainly get a raw deal, but…

    My point isn’t to be fair. The second place team is getting an unearned playoff spot. How much more free stuff do they want? A three-to-five game road trip is costly, but teams go on them all the time in the regular season. I’m not trying to be fair simply because the system itself is not fair.

    My rant is obviously extreme, and there’d have to be compromises made, but that does change that the GBL is way to good to the Scenario C team that doesn’t earn a playoff spot.

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