Monday, October 11, 2004

More Baseball Facts and Opinions

The Houston Astros have advanced to the second round of post-season play by beating the Atlanta Braves. The Astros -- an expansion franchise dating from 1962 -- will face the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards are an old-line franchise, as are the N.Y. Yankees and Boston Red Sox -- who will face each other in the American League Championship Series.

Since 1995, with the inauguration of two rounds of playoffs before the World Series, at least one of the first-round teams has represented an expansion franchise. And at least one expansion team has advanced to the second round in every year since 1996. In fact, the last three World Series have been won by expansion teams: the Florida Marlins in 2003, the Anaheim Angels in 2002, and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.

What's worse -- for a "purist" like me -- is the fact that expansion teams have won nine of the 34 World Series since the advent of pre-World Series playoffs in 1969. The quality of the game would be much higher today if there were still only 16 teams (the number from 1901 through 1960). Then we wouldn't have to put up with fluke World Series victories by such teams as the wild-card Florida Marlins (1997, 2003) and the New York Mets (1969, 1986) -- a team whose fans are easily the most obnoxious of all in baseball.

There should be eight teams in each league, and regular season play should determine the championship of each league. The league champions should meet head-to-head in the World Series. And may the better team win.

Hey, it worked for more than 60 years, and it wasn't broke. Why did they have to go and "fix" it?