Friday Q&A, pt. 1: General baseball

Via email, Chris M writes:

What do you think of teams still having champagne celebrations for only clinching a wild card birth, considering under the new playoff format the wild card only guarantees a spot in a one game playoff?

I personally think the idea of this extra wild card being considered an additional “playoff berth” has been a farce from the beginning. A one-game playoff is not a spot in “the playoffs.” There is still only one wild card team that makes the playoffs, all they did was add a play-in game to get the wild card spot.

It’s kind of silly, but who wouldn’t seek out every possible excuse for a Champagne celebration? I feel like I should get one every time I come home from the gym. Plus, at the Major League level they seem like the type of thing that was once special but has now become so standardized that every team is constantly trying to outdo its predecessor with the biggest and most extravagant, like it’s Chipper Jones’ Super Sweet 16 or something.

As for the second part of the email, it’s all semantic, but I do think the actual Wild Card winner is the team that wins the play-in game, not both teams that clinch a spot in the play-in game. Right? Is that correct? Does it matter?

In any case, it’s still stupid: It’ll work out this year for the American League because there are a bunch of teams very close in the standings. But if the National League wraps up the way it is today, the Braves would have to play the Cardinals in a one-game play-in for the right to continue in the postseason even though over the course of a 162-game season the Braves have been seven games better than the Cardinals. Screw the Braves and everything, but that’s just ridiculous. The point of making the season so long is to allow the very good teams to distinguish themselves from the just kind of decent ones. One game should never be given so much impact in baseball.

Well, I don’t go that much in for awards not being given to me. But I’d say one possibly useful award would be one for the best setup man. And it’d only be useful if it became so sought after and so well-compensated that great relievers actually wanted to be setup men so they could win it. Anything that opened up good relievers to pitching middle innings would be cool, I think.

Alternately, I’d say a Platinum Glove Award for the single best defensive player in each league. But if that were chosen the way the Gold Glove Awards are, it’d hardly be a reliable standard of defensive excellence. Still, it’d be fun — in some grotesque way — to stomach the annual columns about why some very tall first baseman should win the award, and then the inevitable Internet backlash.

Finally, the Jeff Francoeur Award for a guy who we really want to honor in some way but can’t come up with any other excuse to do so.

Quite the contrary, I actually imagine we see a few more very good, long-term single-team players in the coming years. With smaller market teams enjoying more revenue and big free-agent contracts frequently fizzling, the trend appears to be toward teams locking up their young players to longterm extensions that buy out their arbitration years and the first few years of their free agency.

To name a few, Joey Votto, Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki all have contracts that should take them until at least very deep in their careers with the teams that drafted them.

Also via email, real-life friend Bill passes along this link and asks, “Who should be the new president in the Nats’ race?”

Bill: I am a stalwart of the Stalwarts. It’s Chester A. Arthur or GTFO.

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