Last night, and this afternoon, I had written about 500 words or so on the ICC rankings. About how the one-day rankings are silly because there are World Cup tournaments in those formats, and therefore, for example, England is not the number one ODI side in the world, India is, because they are the world champions.
But the more I wrote, the more I had trouble believing what I was saying, and the more I wrote, the more I realized I disagreed with myself.
One of the major issues I have with American sports is their playoff systems; specifically with how many teams are able to qualify for the postseason. In the NBA and the NHL, sixteen (!!) teams make the playoffs, for example. Major League Baseball used to have a phenomenal playoff system, but it keeps getting expanded and now 12 teams make the their playoffs. Too many.
Now all of this is great for the respective leagues and the playoff games are cash cows for the individual teams, but it really does take all the effort out of winning a championship. A team can have a medicore season, squeak into the playoffs, get red hot, and win the whole damn thing. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Titles don’t mean what they used to mean.
I admit that, for the most part, the teams that deserve to win based on their regular season play end up winning in the playoffs, but not always. The best example of all this that I can think of is the 2008 Super Bowl: the New England Patriots versus the New York Giants in Phoenix. Now, I am not an NFL fan in the slightest, but I was in New York City during the game and watched it in a packed midtown bar (The Joshua Tree), so I have pretty strong memories of the game.
New York was a 5th seed in the playoffs, after finishing the regular season with nine wins and seven losses, only one game over .500. Meanwhile, New England had finished the season a perfect 16-0. But in the championship game, there were a few bad bounces and a few weird calls and New York won 17-14. The team that finished 9-7 was the NFL champions and the team that went undefeated had to settle for second. It just doesn’t seem right.
It is for this reason that I am constantly extolling the virtues of the English Premiere League (and all similar leagues): every team plays every other team twice, once at home and once away; you get three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero points for a loss; and the team with the most points at the end of the season is league champion. There is no better test of a team’s mettle. It is the perfect system for deciding a champion.
And that’s why I realized I was contradicting myself with the post I deleted. I like the ICC rankings, I like the fact that they are based on results over the long term, that they are a marathon and not a sprint. The fact that England is the number one ODI team in the world does not mean that India is no longer World Champions. They can both exist on the same plane, in perfect harmony.
All of that said: I still think World Cricket needs a Test Cricket League to run alongside the ICC rankings, as do the one day formats in addition to their two world cups. Similar to the ICC Intercontinental Championships that the Associates have. Not a month long, rock em, sock em tournament, but something with a definite beginning, a definite end, and a definite champion. Cricket is just too infinite. When I think about it too much, it gives me that vague feeling of emptiness and sadness and fear that I used to get when I would lay in bed at night and think about space and time and forever.
In other news: Yuvraj is back tomorrow. The match will actually be on at a decent time here in the states, so I hope to be able to watch at least some of it on Willow TV. Looking forward to it.
I hate to get all political, but this open letter from the Minnesota Vikings Punter, Chris Kluwe, makes me want to be an NFL fan again. Bloody fucking brilliant, Chris. You are my new hero.
Until next time.