Posted by tecwrg on 1/11/2013 3:27:00 PM (view original):
Posted by bripat42 on 1/11/2013 9:40:00 AM (view original):I used to dislike the balanced intraleague schedule because it does make divisions less relevant, but there is a downside to an unbalanced, division-heavy schedule.
I know it's unlikely ever to change but I've always disliked the combination of a balanced schedule and divisional standings. It's not all that uncommon to see a team without one of the top 6 records in the league make the playoffs or a team that does have one of the top 6 records miss the playoffs. Sure, interleague opponents vary for each division, but that's not nearly enough to make divisions relevant.
If you have a team that's tanking, or is consistently a big loser due to an incompetent owner, then the other three teams in that division have an unfair advantage over the rest of the league as they can pad their win totals by virtue of an easier schedule. That would distort the wild-card races.
I understand the argument, and it would be a problem, but the combination of divisions and a balanced schedule poses a similar problem. Teams in weak divisions have a lower standard to meet for making the playoffs than do teams in stronger divisions. This is anecdotal, I know, but in the 16 seasons I've played I count 15 instances of teams winning their divisions and thus making the playoffs despite a wins total that ranked 7th or lower in their respective leagues. That obviously is an average of almost once per season.
Allowing teams to "luck" their way into the playoffs so frequently doesn't seem to me to be any kind of an improvement over the scenario you describe.
It is what it is, I suppose, and it's not going to change but it does still bug me.