The Inequities of North-American Baseball

In the world of baseball this season, what's the difference between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres?

If you look at their records, there's not much difference. With San Diego at 82 wins and Washington at 81 wins, San Diego did better by one game (and that's over a 162-game season). San Diego, with their 82 wins, won their division (National League, Central) and guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs (where they promptly lost).

Washington, however, with their almost-identical record, happens to be in a different division (National League, East), and their 81 wins was good enough to get them..... dead last. No playoff spot. Is this at all fair?

The team I root for, the Cleveland Indians, with their 93 wins did better than 37% of the teams that did make the playoffs. Is this at all fair?

In Japanese baseball this year (with only 12 teams, in two divisions), the four teams with the best records got into the playoffs. The team I root for, the Hanshin Tigers, won their division for the first time since, I think, 1989, the year I first came to Japan. They'll play the winner of the other division for the “Japan Series” (which seems more appropriately named than the North-American “World” Series).

As much as it was Hanshin's year this year, it was the opposite for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, which ended the year 25 games back.... from the 2nd-to-last place team in their division. All in all, they ended a stunning 51.5 games back from the Softbank Hawks (and this is in a season with only 136 games). Better luck next year!

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