There are a lot of arguments floating around the world of professional sports right now, but if you like I aren’t too particularly concerned where Tiger Woods’ “club” has or hasn’t been, let’s just get right to the important stuff real sports fans should be caring about. Currently, there is an abomination amongst professional sports leagues that is allowing for these leagues to sell us a product that is not up to the standards by which we should judge such professional competition. The middle of this article is written in second person, suggesting that the reader is one of these teams in question.
My New York Giants finished .500 this year and (spoken with complete lack of respect) without question should have missed the playoffs like they did. I thought their effort down the stretch was totally pathetic, and it got me to thinking: Why is it that teams that are at or sub .500 are still playing in the last few games of the season with a great shot at making the playoffs? Shouldn’t the playoffs be a sacred thing that only the best of the best get invited to?
I’m going to go on record as saying that although I love sports, I do think the number of games required to decide on a champion in some leagues is absurd. I feel this way about hockey (which is just way too much physical energy to exert in several consecutive seven games series) as well as baseball (I don’t know anyone that REALLY thinks 162 game seasons are 100% necessary) and of course, the epic production that the NBA playoffs turn into almost every year. (And I love me some pro basketball, but you have to draw the line somewhere)
Now, if you’re .500, you get to go. That way it makes those last few games even more crucial and important. But if you don’t, YOU DON’T GET TO GO THE POSTSEASON. No excuses, no bullshit. Simply put, if you can’t win at least as many games as you lose, you don’t get to keep playing. I can’t really imagine a scenario that’s even possible where that rule would be unfair. And if your division doesn’t produce a winning team (like where the NFC and AFC West are eventually headed) then you’re just going to have to live with the fact that your division is shit to begin with and therefore nobody gets to go under those circumstances either. If you’re the least terrible out of a geographically segmented four team division, chances are you probably still suck. Sucking less than other teams that suck a lot shouldn’t ensure you a playoff berth. And that’s because you still suck.
Hockey is guilty of this on an annual basis. Hockey is the only sport where as a spectator you’re for sure that there are enough teams to sustain several leagues, yet when the playoffs start it seems like three to six of them are just awful and don’t belong at all. How many years did teams like the New York Islanders make the playoffs simply because there weren’t enough teams in the league THAT WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS? It honestly feels like hockey is the mathematical exception to the fact that everyone cannot finish with a losing record. Check this out Yahoo Answers. Some crazy guy up North hammered that out for me, but clearly there are an AWFUL lot of sub-.500 teams making the playoff in that sport.
But NBA basketball is guilty of it too. The Eastern Conference over the past 5 or 6 years has been chock full of some sub-.500 teams that had no fight whatsoever in the playoffs. The Celtics made the playoffs in 2004 with a 36-46 record. That’s DOUBLE DIGIT games under .500. The Knicks made the playoffs the same year with a record of 39-43. Both teams lost both series 4-0. Milwaukee also made it in 2006 with a record of 40-42. There are a few examples where the series have actually turned out to be very good, but in the end the 1 or 2 seed won every time. (1993 Lakers vs. Suns, 2008 Celtics vs. Hawks, who were 37-45 but MUCH tougher than their record indicated that year and that’s why that series went seven games in the first place)
So how do you solve this issue of the subpar teams not appearing? Simple: Give them a bye. Seriously, why in the world would we need a whole seven game series to figure out that the Lakers are better than the Blazers? I don’t need to see the Washington Capitals go 5 games against the Atlanta Thrashers because I know there isn’t any situation where Washington isn’t going to kill them.
We’re all under the impression that almost every sport gets way more intense once the postseason starts, so let’s only let the really good teams participate and ensure a quality product. You can’t tell me advertising revenue for two series given in the examples above would be more important than the purity of preserving the game for the sake of competition.
And this goes for the NCAA tournament, too. This is EXACTLY where this nonsense of expanding to 96 teams comes from, and it’s silly. Every year, there’s some “bubble” team like Mississippi State whining about how they were snubbed, but when you’re Mississippi State you need to realize that you have to be better than good to make it to the NCAA basketball tournament in the first place. Additionally the expansion idea also comes from the thought that if you’re in the ACC or the Big East, you should get to go to the big dance every year no matter what your record is because you are in a coveted conference, which is also a crock of shit. I don’t want to see the NCAA tourney ever adjusted again to fit more than 64 games, and that play-in game is really, really stupid to begin with. (Editor’s note: Is there anyone else here that was under the impression that the play-in game was only supposed to occur when there was a real question about who was the 64th best team in the country? When did it turn into something that happens annually?)
This doesn’t always happen in every sport every year, but it does happen more than it should and I think that in the very near future we are going to see more and more situations like this in professional sports. We have already suffered enough from mediocrity when it comes to politics and world relations, let’s not have it consume our recreational entertainment as well.
As of this point I’ve run out of milk, therefore I’ve run out of things to write about. But thanks for tuning in and visiting FOH for more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.