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Buzz
Richard O'Brien
January 31, 1994
?Baseball's expanded playoff format, devised in part to accommodate its new three-divisional alignment, is far too kind to wild-card teams. Each wild card will play the division champ with the best record—but only if that team is not a division rival. Had the system been in place last season, the Phillies would have been the National League wild card but would have avoided a first-round meeting with East Division rival Atlanta, the best regular-season team in the league. And while the Phillies would have been playing the Central Division champion Cardinals, the Braves would have been playing the Giants, the team with the second-best record in baseball.
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January 31, 1994

Buzz

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?Baseball's expanded playoff format, devised in part to accommodate its new three-divisional alignment, is far too kind to wild-card teams. Each wild card will play the division champ with the best record—but only if that team is not a division rival. Had the system been in place last season, the Phillies would have been the National League wild card but would have avoided a first-round meeting with East Division rival Atlanta, the best regular-season team in the league. And while the Phillies would have been playing the Central Division champion Cardinals, the Braves would have been playing the Giants, the team with the second-best record in baseball.

Why pretend that intradivisional rivalries are sacred? In baseball's balanced schedule, teams play either 39 or 52 divisional games and the rest of their 162 games against teams from the league's two other divisions.

?Game 7 of the 1994 World Series is scheduled for Oct. 30. And on deck: the first Mr. November.

?The sale of the New England Patriots to Boston businessman Bob Kraft for an estimated $158 million seems to be exactly the dose of stability that one of the NFL's least stable franchises needs. Kraft is already talking boldly about going after free agents to build the perennial doormat into a contender.

But Kraft's debt—the price of the team plus legal fees—could restrict his ability to go after champion-making free agents, not to mention the Pats' own contract-expired stable that includes mainstays Bruce Armstrong, Maurice Hurst and Leonard Russell. Kraft will probably have to spend large chunks of his own money, and many other owners have cowered in the face of that reality.

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