The World Baseball Classic tiebreaker rules are far too confusing
With every new addition, at least a few more people seem to be enjoying the World Baseball Classic. It has a bit of everything for the baseball geek, starting with #WeirdBaseball and overnight starts in Taiwan and Tokyo. Then we get the noise and sights when the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Puerto Rico come onto the field, which makes us all wonder why MLB struggles so hard to make baseball fun. Look at these guys! And of course there’s the usual Team USA Throwing Up On Itself night we got yesterday when Mexico gave them butts (and we’ll get to that).
While our neighbors to the south showered Brady Singer with honey and ants (undercutting the value of this tournament because the US was forced to turn to Singer and Methuselah Wainwright in their first two games, but we’ll get to that), more and more People on Twitter are beginning to calculate how damaging it was for the US not only to lose to Mexico, but to get their butt kicked up to their necks. Which sounded a bit odd to the uninitiated. OK, the US didn’t blow out the UK and theirs D student jerseysbut with a little late rally last night, They figured a blowout by Colombia or Canada while simply beating the other should be enough for the US to move forward and for Fox executives to clean away the absinthe. Because running difference would of course be the first tiebreaker in case of a tie between more than two teams. Of course they could use the record in games between the tied teams if there are more than two, but that won’t always work either. Running differential would therefore purely …
No of course not. This is MLB and nothing they do is as easy as it could be because fuck you and there’s nothing they can’t screw up because fuck you. As the US deficit grew and Pool A ended in a four-way tie, we were introduced to a set of rules that included words like “quotient” and “divided,” required a lot of math, and definitely sounded like something made by someone designed, listened to The dark side of the moon 50 times too much. Nobody, the general in Us And Them is you dude! It’s Joey Meneses too! Do not you see?!
Here’s the actual wording of the WBC tiebreaker rule if you need to start your week in the fog. Well, a different kind of fog than normal:
“The tied teams are ranked in the leaderboard by the lowest ratio of fewest runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded between the tied teams in games in that round.”
Thus, in Pool A, which had already ended the game, each team ended 2-2. But instead of going through barrel differential, Italy and Cuba reached the quarterfinals thanks to their lowest allowed runs ratio/percent/flubber. Which is really strange!
For example, and it didn’t really affect the math but it could have, the Netherlands recorded just 102 outs in their four games instead of the 108 recorded by Cuba and Italy because they were the away team in two games and lost both. Sure, they lost, but would they have given up just two fewer Runs while still losing those two games, the same number of runs abandoned by Italy In four games they would still have rebounded simply because they were the road team and didn’t get a chance to post more outs. How does that work? Italy still had the better running differential with some distance (+3 versus -6) and deserved to come through, but MLB made this a real mess and almost made it. Some would argue they did because it could so easily have come down to chance as to who counted as the home team in certain games and who didn’t. [Editor’s note: Holy shit this is confusing]
The Math doesn’t do the US much favors. They just gave up 11 runs and even if they manage to beat both Colombia and Canada badly, they’d better do it without giving up much. It’s not hard to see three teams finish 3-1 in the US pool, with Colombia and Mexico still getting their vacant spot on the bingo map against Britain or Canada pulling in an upset. And the US needs to make up for that 11th place.
The system doesn’t account for offense, and perhaps the purpose wasn’t to reward teams that can penalize pitchers who are early in their run-up for the season. But hey, then they discontinued the damn thing, so deal with it. Speaking of…
Mark DeRosa is giving away the game
After last night’s loss, US coach Mark DeRosa was only too happy to undermine the whole thing. Because it’s hard to take a tournament like this seriously when the Manager of his largest team openly tells everyone he has it to serve the Lord of MLB teams’ desires for victory.
We get it, it’s still spring training, and Pitchers have limitations here, but it’s a little hard to swallow when you see how every other team seems to be immensely enjoying this thing and playing like it really matters while DeRosa takes care of people and management that don’t even here are. And the reminds you that when you go to leading Pitchers site from last year and see how many are not in this tournament and you can’t help but get a little discouraged.
The WBC is a great idea and is really fun in some corners. But if it’s ever going to be THE REAL thing, then MLB has to commit to it by doing something like replacing the All-Star game with it every four years. Shorten the season, block two weeks in the middle, and have the damn thing right when the pitchers are in their true form and everyone has been playing for months and at a point on the calendar where there’s just something going on. Having it in July also opens up all kinds of venues. Wouldn’t games at Yankee Stadium or Fenway or Wrigley give it a shiny new shine?
Perhaps pitchers will always be wary of pinning innings anywhere other than for the teams that pay them millions. Maybe you never get someone like Jacob deGrom or Aaron Nola. But with a shortened regular season and halfway through with innings they would throw normally in a 162-game season, the odds are better. Acting as another version of spring training cheapens something that shouldn’t be cheapened if it’s ever going to work.
https://deadspin.com/world-baseball-classic-tiebreaker-rules-1850219975 The World Baseball Classic tiebreaker rules are far too confusing