Sports Simulation Influences New MLB Playoff Format

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL UNVEILS PLAYOFF FORMAT
CREATED BY COMPUTER GAME DESIGNER

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig Announces That 2012 Season Will Feature Two New Wild Card Teams, Based On Several Years Of Research And Computer Simulation

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig expects the playoffs to expand from eight teams to 10 teams, for the upcoming 2012 season.

Selig went public last fall with his support for expanded playoffs, and the matter is subject to collective bargaining with the players’ association.

“I would say we’re moving to expand the playoffs, but there’s a myriad of details to work out,” Selig said Thursday in New York at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Ten is a fair number.”

Selig said scheduling is the major issue of discussion, including how many games the new wild-card round would be. The two wild-card teams in each league would meet, and the winners would advance to the following round against division winners. “The more we’ve talked about it, I think we’re moving inexorably to that,” he said.

The plan preferred by owners, dubbed “Wild Card Sudden Death” by some, was created by Clay Dreslough, a computer game designer who has been writing baseball simulations since his childhood in the 1970s.

In a 1999 article entitled “Fixing The Wild Card”, Mr. Dreslough proposed adding a 2nd wild card team in each league, with the wild card teams facing each other in a one-game playoff to decide which team advances to meet one of the division winners.

Some advantages of the new system:

1) Division races gain importance. Because each wild card might get knocked out in the one-game playoff, teams will fight to win their division, even after they have secured a playoff spot.

2) “Home field” races (such as between the 2007 American League division winners) gain added importance. There would now be a big difference between being the #1 seed and the #2 seed.  Having the best record means that you get to face a team that probably just used their best available pitcher in a one-game playoff.
3) This corrects the current problem that the wild card team has as good a shot (or better) at making it to the World Series. No team wants to face a 1-game elimination playoff, no matter how good their best pitcher is.

4) This one-game playoff creates instant “Game 7” excitement, without significantly lengthening the playoffs. We don’t have to worry about playing November games.
Dreslough and his company, Sports Mogul Inc., organized a letter-writing campaign among baseball fans to bring this improvement to the league that they loved.

Surprisingly, the league embraced the proposal with open arms. Mr. Dreslough had used the Baseball Mogul computer game to simulate thousands of seasons, using both the current and newly proposed playoff format. This proved that the new format made the playoff races more exciting. By creating two tiers of playoff teams, it turned many meaningless regular-season games into nail-biting contests.

“The fact that we have over 10 years of baseball simulations to back up our decision gives us great confidence that this format will make both the regular baseball season and the post-season even more exciting for all of our fans,” said Ethan Katz at MLB Advanced Media. “All the data shows that this format never makes September less interesting, and almost always makes it much more compelling.”

Baseball fans curious about the new playoff format can use the free version of Baseball Mogul to simulate a season. (After starting a new ‘Modern’ game, choose ‘League Editor’ from the League Menu, and change ‘Wild Card Teams’ from ‘1’ to ‘2’)

About Sports Mogul Inc.

Sports Mogul Inc.is an electronic entertainment company that designs and develops computer-based sports simulations. The company’s product line includes Baseball Mogul 2012, the 14th version of “the most realistic baseball simulation you can buy” (PC Gamer). The Mogul series of games has received numerous accolades, including “Sports Game Of The Year” from Computer Gaming World magazine.

Clay Dreslough, President, can be reached at cjd@sportsmogul.com.

 

For Baseball Mogul 2012: http://www.sportsmogul.com/games/baseball2k12.html.

 

About MLBAM

Established in June 2000, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, www.MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet, and offers more live events on the Internet than any other website in the world.

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