15 November 2005

How the LA Galaxy Helped the Playoffs

Congratulations to the LA Galaxy on their second MLS Cup title, and for justifying MLS's current playoff format. Yup, that's right, the playoff format has been strengthened by this win. Critics are chagrined that a #4 seed has won the cup, thus nullifying the purpose of most of the regular season. But the fact is that the regular season has pretty much already been knocked around before this, just based on the few number of Supporter Shield winners that eventually won the cup. The regular season will continue to be dimished in importance until at least half the teams don't make the playoffs. But the playoffs themselves?

The odd thing was that a #3 or #4 seed had never won the cup until this year. In short, a three or four seed could make the playoffs, but until someone actually won the cup, it seemed it was only a formality until they were defeated. Now there's proof that once you make it in, you have a shot, even if it has been statistically unlikely. This means that the playoffs are more than just a ratification process for getting one of the top two seeds into the finals. I like that.

I also like the LA Galaxy as champions. There's a WWE wrestling concept here of "the weak champion" that I think comes into play. See, theoretically, the prestige of the belt is enhanced when wrestlers perceived as strong players take and hold the belt for extended periods of time. Thus proving that only the best win the belt. But occasionally some nobody gets the title (remember Kurt Angle's first reign?) and while it seems like the prestige of the belt has taken a hit, the resulting combat to "restore it to glory" is more than entertaining (as is the fact that the guy who everyone thought was weak is now elevated in stature some.) The LA Galaxy are a weak champion, in that people think they're unworthy. Next season every team will have a chance to prove exactly that whenever they play LA, and LA will have every chance to restate their credentials with each win. If nothing else, the regular season will be a question of "How much is that MLS Title worth?" Should be entertaining.


At 15 November, 2005 11:53, Blogger cvmacboy said...

Very interesting argument...probably the most intriguing I've read so far in favoring the playoff system.

At 16 November, 2005 09:25, Anonymous Joe said...

A pro wrestling analogy for the MLS playoffs... I like it.

I'm not sure it's fait to call the Galaxy a weak team, though. They're the only team this season that won when cups (two of them) were at stake.

At 16 November, 2005 11:46, Blogger D said...

I actually don't think the Galaxy are as weak as all that, but we have to know that fans and some players must at least perceive them as weak. The Galaxy must also know that even if people don't say it to their faces, they might be thinking it. Which should give a nice little bonus to every LA match. LA has every chance to answer the doubters. About one a week starting spring of next year.

At 16 November, 2005 23:02, Anonymous Markus said...

It's discouraging that LA has a few premier players that can get away with seemingly mailing it in all season, then turn it on during the playoffs to effectively negate all of the hard work NE had done all season. It certainly strikes me as a characteristic of an immature league.

At 16 November, 2005 23:41, Blogger scaryice said...

Kurt Angle was definitely not a weak champion. Now JBL, on the other hand...That's a much better example. Come on, man!


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