Baseball appears to be on the verge of revamping its postseason.
Many are criticizing that the 88 win Atlanta Braves, winner of the National League Eastern Division, were seeded into the second round of the playoff and given home field advantage in the third round. In contrast, the 106 win Los Angeles Dodgers lost the NL Western Division to the 107 win San Francisco Giants in perhaps the greatest pennant race of all time. Three games back with 20 to play, the Dodgers won 17 of their last 20. But the Giants won 15 of 20 to win by 1.
Hence, the second place Dodgers were seeded into a one game Wild Card playoff against St. Louis, then had to beat the Giants in a superb second round series, before being thoroughly beaten by the Braves in the semifinals in six games.
Those saying Atlanta Braves should have had to go to the Wild Card Round and not get home field advantage for having fewer wins don’t grasp that under a most-wins system of seeding the Dodgers would have shut down with about ten days to go rather than fight Giants to the bitter end, depriving the West of a great pennant race. The Dodgers lost Hall of Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a season-ending injury in the third to last game and their leading slugger Max Muncy in the last game of the season.
The 2021 NL West pennant race between the S.F. Giants vs. L.A. Dodgers was perhaps the best ever, but because their home games don’t finish in time for ESPN SportsCenter in East and Central time zones, they don’t get the attention of, say, New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox pennant races.
Back in 1967, USC with O.J. Simpson vs. UCLA with Gary Beban was the Big Game because the whole country caught up with Saturday’s college football action in the newspapers on Sunday. But now, Pac-12 games happen at one million o’clock in the morning in the Eastern and Central time zones so nobody cares.
Sports are an interesting example of how electronic communications has reimposed the tyranny of distance due to time zones. Highest viewership is right before going to bed, so SouthEastern Conference night games have the most viewers, Pacific 12 night games the fewest.
When I was a kid, it was widely assumed that, due to electronic communication, elite workers would soon move to Hawaii to enjoy the paradisiacal climate and beauty. But, perhaps due to time zones, that didn’t happen: e.g., NY Stock Exchange opens at 3:30 AM in Honolulu.
What’s the point of being rich in Hawaii if you have to go to bed at 6 pm?