Today’s question is a simple one, but it hides a more complex one: Do you like playoffs? Right now, baseball is in its postseason, and after Sunday, MLS will be in its postseason. I guess the complexity of that question lies in another question: what do you think the playoffs are supposed to accomplish?
What I mean by that is, do you believe playoffs are to name the best team in a sport in a given season? For sure, the winner of a playoff season is the one that’s remembered years later, rather than a team that may have dominated the regular season, because US sports have set up playoffs as the end-all be-all of any given sports season. But to me, that’s not what playoffs are.
In my opinion, the winner of a playoff season isn’t the best team in the game, but the best team that qualified for the playoffs. A team can back their way into a playoff series and run off an unbelievable hot streak to win the whole playoffs, thus being league champions, and still not be the best team in the game in a given year. For instance, as a Mariners fan, I will go to my grave believing the 2001 Mariners are the best team I’ve seen play baseball in my lifetime, despite the fact that they didn’t win eight games in late October.
That isn’t to discount the winner of a playoff season - far from it. Playoffs bring their own pressure, their own subplots, and the ability to call yourself a World Series winner, or an NBA championship winner, or to have your name on a Stanley Cup, is a pretty huge and legend-worthy accomplishment. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you were the best at your sport for nine months or whatever, it just means you got really good at just the right time.
What about you? In a sport that you like where playoffs are a thing, do you value playoffs as high as the regular season? More so? Less so?