While baseball is my favorite human endeavor, I’m also a college football fan on the side. For those reasons (and as part of my ongoing recovery from yet another Nebraska loss that challenges the dimensions of the absurd and because — as Kid Rock hastens to remind me on those rare occasions when I cross paths with popular music — I was born free), I decided to see what things would look like if baseball operated under the widely maligned BCS system.
Of course, you can’t indulge in something this galactically pointless without quite a bit of prep work. First, we need to assign conference analogs to each division. Luckily and tidily enough, there are six BCS conferences and six MLB divisions. Ah, kismet!
– The NL East will be the ACC solely because of some degree of geographic overlap.
– The AL East will be the SEC because of unbridled strength, widespread loathing and annoying fan bases.
– The NL Central will be the Big East because they both have Pittsburgh and because both are occasionally lousy.
– The AL Central will be the Big 10 because it seems like they should be. Also, both have notable presences in Ohio and Michigan. Sure, Jim Tressel and Tony La Russa both share a passion for Transition Lenses, but in this instance other factors carry the day.
– The NL West will be the Pac 10 because both are Westerners by birth and inclination.
– The AL West will be the Big 12 because they’re the last pair standing and, well, what choice have we? It is thus because it is thus.
Roughly speaking, the BCS output consists of two parts human polls (the AP and Coaches’ Polls) and one part evil robot (a complicated stew of 11 or so different computer polls, which, among other inanities, aren’t allowed to take margin of victory into account). To replicate this process as best we can, we’ll turn to some end-of-season power rankings. FOX’s (which I did not author) and ESPN’s will stand in for the human element, and we’ll lean on the quantitative stylings of Beyond the Boxscore for the robot effect.
And at long last, the top 10 MLB BCS standings, powered by the average rank of all three polls …
1. Rays, 1.67
2. Yankees, 2.67
3. Phillies, 3.00
4. Twins, 4.33
5. Braves, 6.33
6. Giants, 7.00
7. Rangers, Reds, 8.33
9. Padres, 9.00
10. Red Sox, Blue Jays, 9.67
Given all that, your lucky-best BCS bowl match-ups …
BCS Title Game: #1 Rays vs. #2 Yankees
Shield your eyes, AL East haters. It’s an intra-conference slap fight for the belt and the title. Console yourselves with the knowledge that Girardi and Maddon could totally own the Bike Coaching Shorts look …
Rose Bowl: #4 Twins vs. #6 Giants
The BCS stipulates that the Big 10 champ will meet the Pac-10 champ in the Rose Bowl unless one of those two teams is in the title game. So conference tie-ins send the Twins and Giants to Pasadena. Unless you’re on the West Coast, this is when your New Year’s Day nap occurs.
Sugar Bowl: #3 Phillies vs. #10 Red Sox
The Sugar Bowl is duty-bound to take the SEC champ, but — as is almost always the damn case in real life — our SEC champ is in the title game. This year, the Sugar has top choice of non-locked-in teams, so they’ll take the highest-ranked team available (the Phillies), and then they’ll take the SEC team that is sure to travel well, assault the senses on Bourbon Street and buy lots of t-shirts, foam fingers and nachos. Sorry Blue Jays, them’s the breaks.
Orange Bowl: #5 Braves vs. #7 Reds
As ACC champs, the Braves are committed to the Orange Bowl, and then the Orange Bowl committee — each member wears an ascot and a pair of Oleg Cassini tassled loafers — chooses the Big East champs as the loyal opposition. That leaves the scraps for the …
Fiesta Bowl: #7 Rangers vs. #9 Padres
The Big 12 champ goes to the Fiesta in lieu of a title game berth, and because of regional considerations the Fiesta picks the Pac-10 runner-up to play the Rangers.
Sorry Blue Jays, but someone has to play the role of “aggrieved mid-major.” Yet know this: Lee Corso, in a rousing gesture of solidarity, will wear your mascot head, and all the while Kirk Herbstreit will chuckle knowingly.
URGENT UPDATE: Down in the comments section, reader Rob sagely notes that a conference can’t have more than two teams in BCS bowls. This means the Sugar Bowl berth presently enjoyed by Boston falls to the Cardinals and their score of 11.67. Rob saves the day and my hide.