Extended Playoffs Loathesome for People with Sense

“Baseball becomes markedly less interesting at the conclusion of the regular season.”

I’m sure there are people who’ll disagree with this sentiment, but there are also people who go camping of their own volition. I should not be surprised to find significant overlap between these two populations.

In any case, I bring it up, on account of — as Alex Remington noted in these pages yesterday — the Major League Baseball playoffs are likely to be expanded soon to include 10 teams come the 2012 season.

While I’ll stop short of calling the move a “travesty” — I mean, it’s not like Community is being taken off the air or the collected works of P.G. Wodehouse are being summarily banned — I’m more than willing to state publicly that it’s 100% of a bummer.

For people who possess even the minorest capacity for developing narrative, the playoffs, the World Series, and the winner of same — it’s all irrelevant. Note, please, that this is not the same thing as saying that winning itself is irrelevant. No, winning is an essential goal for players to have. Games wherein the participants are unconcerned about the outcome — well, those aren’t games, at all.

But it’s a goal for players. This is a demographic who, without being required by law to do so, wear Phiten-brand energy necklaces and grow irksome facial hair. Fans don’t share the same concerns. For fans, it’s different. Once we’ve established the fact that the players are trying mostly their hardest to win, we’re then entirely free to construct our own narratives for a season, to develop our own entry points. The playoffs, the myriad Red Sox-Yankees games, the awards season — those are pre-fab narratives. Participating in them is the intellectual equivalent of watching and enjoying Two and a Half Men.

Readers of this site will know that I spent much of the season entirely enamored of winged angel Colby Lewis. Lewis ultimately made it to the World Series, but even had his season concluded at the end of September, I would’ve been happy. It was my choice to follow him and celebrate him. It wasn’t the Giants’ World Series, nor Felix Hernandez‘s Cy Young, but the presence of Colby Lewis in the league that will be lasting impression of the 2010 season.

You, the readers of FanGraphs — being mostly bespectacled and university-educated — will likely have similar stories of players or games that have particularly roused you. These will likely not be the same exact players or games that network television or MLB have suggested would rouse you. You were able to make those decisions on your own.

The extension of the playoffs is hostile to this population, as it means only more manufactured narratives. And, with a longer playoffs, the next interesting portion of the season — the declaration of free agency and whatever else comes along with the season’s end — will be accordingly delayed.

“But Carson,” maybe you’re saying “I like baseball and the playoffs.” To you, I respond: “You’re obviously also the sort of person who likes camping. I can’t be held accountable for your taste.”



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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Navin V.
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I love camping.

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eric

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