Regular Season Vs. Post Season


"The playoffs aren’t about finding the best team in baseball. The regular season will usually tell you which team is the best team in baseball. It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, because the sample size is large. The best team in baseball last season was the New York Yankees, or, maybe, the Philadelphia Phillies or the Texas Rangers. None of these three teams won the World Series, but there wasn’t any outcry that the system was broken. The regular season tells you one thing, and the playoffs tell you something very different. – Jeff Sullivan"

So I’m sure you saw over at Lookout Landing that Jeff posted a link to his take on the new playoff system. Not sure if you actually read it or not but it –much like everything else he writes– was a great read. It also kind of leads into what I’ve been thinking about when it comes to the playoffs.

I’m not opposed to how many teams they want to add or even subtract from the playoffs. Because ultimately the playoffs are a completely different monster as Jeff explained in his article. His talk about the Yankees/Phillies being the best team and not winning the World Series this past year or even the year before.

It got me thinking about the Sounders, MLS and their playoff system

I love American “futbol”. Trust me I realize it’s got its own share of flaws and I also realize how much FIFA and european fans hate the system. Heck, I’m a fan of both Fulham and FC Porto and watch plenty of Premier/Liga/UEFA matches to realize that there is a sizeable difference between the leagues, the competition and … well everything in between. But, nontheless I enjoy it.

I take a lot of heat for it here in the desert with people coming from all over the place. There is such a mixed bag of fans for a few different leagues to include La Liga, Premier League, Ligue 1 and Serie A. Seriously, I can walk off base to the French market and it’s just littered with (cheap knock-off) jerseys. Such as Messi, Ibrahimović, Kaka, Hazard as well as many other assorted jerseys (and yet I can’t find a freakin’ Fulham jersey to save my life)… suffice to say American Soccer is not exactly popular even with other fellow Americans here.

The thing is since the departure of our beloved Sonics, I’ve used it as a jumping off point to get more involved in Soccer and more specifically into American Soccer. The last two years, not counting this past year, was exciting. Not just because of the Open Cup victories, though those were certainly exciting, but because of how successful they were as whole.

But as I learn and grow as a soccer fan the thing that stood out to me that was weird about American Soccer was how nonchalant fans were about both the Rapids and RSL winning the last two MLS Cups (basically equivalent to a World Series championship) despite hardly contending for the Supporters’ Shield (given to the club with the most points over the course of the season). In fact only two teams (three if the Galaxy win tonight) in the past decade have won both the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup in the same season.

The MLS regular season is just as long as the Major League Baseball season and while they hardly play the same amount of games it’s comparable in the amount of time and effort that is naturally invested. Now, the thing is I believe that Soccer fans, in general, look at the regular season and playoffs as two separate intensities. This is something that I don’t think MLB fans look at or really think like in anyway. Fans live and die for October and while I’m not saying I don’t want to see the Mariners get to the playoffs I think we are all better suited to focus on just finishing the season in good standing.

I’m not saying that a Championship is as good as being the best over a long period of time. But, in small bit size samples it’s impossible to calculate what could happen. It’s absolutely random at times. Heck, Pat Borders was the World Series MVP in 1992. Yes, life wOBA of .292 Pat Borders. THAT Pat Borders.

What if instead of trying to focus on October we live and died with each game like Soccer fans. I realize that’s incredibly difficult over 162 games versus just 34 (not counting friendlies or Cup Matches). But, I think that if we as Mariner fans put more emphasis on the here and now rather than trying to always figure out when they are going to be playing in October, we’ll appreciate it more as the team grow and get better over time.

Of course October is always the goal and of course we’ll still want that ring. But we don’t sit all season long with the Sounders, talking about the playoffs. We take each match as it comes and we talk about what they need to do to for each game.

I don’t know maybe I don’t know the heartbeats as well as I think I do.  Maybe, I’m off. Maybe that’s all fans want around here is the MLS championship cup. But, as we’ve started incorporating the some of the excitement of the Sounder games (aka the Kings Court) I think it’s important that we start putting the emphasis on what each game means in the here and now. Rather than getting caught up in the future that we so often dwell on as a fan base. Let’s enjoy the ride this year and with it comes the inherent chance that as of 2013 we’re more likely to go to the playoffs.