Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Hockey and basketball season have come to an end, which means that playoffs have begun. These now drag on so long that the 2016-2017 championship in both leagues will be decided five weeks into the 2017-2018 seasons.

Hockey has been the worst offender at this for a long time. They even call the playoffs the "second season." You used to have to be good to make the playoffs; now you just have to not stink. (Sorry, Devils fans; guess that means you, this year.) There are 30 NHL teams and more than half get to keep going when the regular season ends. When the majority of the teams continue when the season ends, that means the season hasn't ended. Same in the NBA, where less than half of the teams (14 out of 30) go golfing when the season ends. 

I would be less annoyed if I were a fan. Neither sport has ever appealed to me. Not that I'm good at football or baseball, but at least when I was a child I could pretend to think I might be good one day. Not so with basketball, because I jump like an anvil. And when I get on skates, I quickly find myself no longer on skates but rather looking up at them. 

On the topic of skates, though, there may be no more weather-centered major sport than ice hockey, and yet the playoffs now drag on until the middle of June. The Rangers won the 1940 Stanley Cup on April 13. This year the "regular" season ended April 9.  

I think even the sports I love go on too long. Major League Baseball should not go past Halloween. The NFL keeps toying with the idea of an 18-game season, I guess because not enough players are getting hurt in the 16-game season.

The thing about hockey, though, is that it makes the endless baseball season look efficient. A 7-game playoff series in baseball takes a max of 9 days; in the NHL it stretches over 13. And you have to budget all those days into the playoff schedule even if the series ends at 4 games. It's a long time to keep Rangers fans in the misery of dread and hope, is all I'm saying. Cruel.

Bottom line: I think baseball and football mostly manage to keep lousy teams from making the playoffs, but basketball and hockey don't. Tell me I'm wrong and I'll paste you into the boards.

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