Too many teams make the field in baseball playoffs

Published 11:49 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

Diluting anything is not a means to success.

Ever tried it with Kool-Aid? Not adding enough mix to the jug is the best way to make water taste the worst it can.

Diluting car wash solution means you’ll be lucky to get the petrified bug guts off the front bumper of your vehicle with a month’s elbow grease.

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The NBA once had the first-round playoff series in a best-of-five format, whereas the rest of the rounds were best of seven. There were once upsets, but when the opening round was expanded to best-of-seven, the chances of an eighth-seed beating a one-seed dwindled to nothing.

The horribly inept play-in games for the NCAA Tournament (expanded to 68 teams this year) belonged in one of the alphabet soup tournaments of also-rans, not in a NCAA field. Pick-up hoops at a Y had more flow than those hideous games.

The same rule should apply to playoffs at any level of sport. It’d be an adage the Mississippi High School Activities Association would be wise to adopt.

Last year, just two teams of every division made it to basball’s postseason (a 16-team tournament), but the field was expanded to 24 this season.

While some of the benefits are laudable, such as increased ticket revenue from home gates (each team is guaranteed one home contest per round) and allowing seniors to extend their final year with a shot at Trustmark Park, the negatives far outweigh these.

For example, all Vicksburg had to do to make the playoffs was beat Greenville-Weston twice, regardless of what happened against division champion Clinton and runner-up Warren Central. That’s no knock on the Gators, who likely will get a favorable draw and a winnable series out of Division 2 (which will likely be South Panola).

But does diluting the season to a pair of games with lowly Greenville-Weston make the playoffs better?

It is the same situation with St. Aloysius, which has struggled mightily as the Flashes reload after back-to-back Class 1A crowns. The Flashes went 2-0 against West Lincoln to lock up third place in Division 7-1A, but were swept by Cathedral and Bogue Chitto.

While a lot of St. Al fans would cry foul, does a 2-16 team, albeit against Class 1A’s toughest schedule that included Ridgeland and St. Andrew’s, deserve a playoff berth?

In both situations, it simply makes the third spot a race to mediocrity. Win two and you’re in isn’t much of a rallying cry.

The postseason is about carving away the unworthy until all that is left is worthy of the name of state champions.

Expanding the field only extends the whittling process. It surely doesn’t make it better.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at