Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why Ties Suck in Baseball - 2010 Postseason Edition


Regular readers know I don't particularly like a lot of things about Japanese baseball. The long games are the most annoying problem, but a close second is that ties are part of the game. I've posted how ties are ignored in the standings which is stupid because teams with more wins end up with worse records.

Well, I now have another reason to hate ties. Last night's Japan Series game went 15 innings and finished 2-2. The Chiba Lotte Marines led the series 3-2 over the Chunichi Dragons and both teams had their aces going, so it was expected to be a pitcher's duel. And it was.

I watched the first couple of innings in which each team scored a first-frame run before losing my TV rights for a couple of hours. When I regained them, it was 2-2 in the 9th, so I watched the rest, hoping for a result.

What I saw instead was some pretty bad baseball. In the 10th and 11th, Lotte had the leadoff batter reach and attempted a sacrifice bunt. Both times the bunt was popped up and resulted in a double play. Chunichi was no better, popping up one bunt and having another sacrifice attempt result in the lead runner being thrown out at second. So much for fundamental baseball. Chunichi's clutch hitting was also abysmal, with runners left in scoring position in innings 10 through 14. All-in-all, not a classic championship game.

I feel for the fans who spent 5:43 watching for nothing. Even worse are the fans who bought game 7 tickets expecting to see a championship. They might still if Lotte prevails tonight, but if Chunichi wins, then there will be a game 8 on Monday night. Roadtrippers who traveled to Nagoya and have to return Monday are out of luck if that happens. It's even possible that tonight's game could end in a draw, but from game 8 onward, there are no ties.

Having a set ending also reduces the strategy required for an extra-inning game. Knowing that the game will end after 15 innings allows managers to bring in their closer in the 14th without worrying about using him up. A game with no fixed end forces managers to really use all their strategic smarts to ensure proper use of the remaining pitchers.

Finally, having a championship series game (un)decided in this manner is just stupid. If the NHL ever goes to a shootout in the playoffs, you can bet I'll be complaining about that too.

Best,

Sean

Update: Lotte won game 7 in 12 innings to take the series 4-2-1. So the tie the night before didn't have a real impact on the series. But a 3rd place team winning the Japan Series still leaves me disillusioned. What's the point of a baseball season again?

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