Pictured below: Bishop Amat beat Palm Desert at Dodger Stadium for the title in June. However, If the double-elimination proposal passes, it probably means no championship games at Dodger or Anaheim Stadium for Divisions 1-4.
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Area coaches have mixed feelings over a radical proposal that would create a double elimination high school baseball playoff tournament that would begin in May for the 2012 baseball playoffs. The CIF-Southern Section Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a two-year pilot program that would create a double elimination baseball playoff for Divisions 1 through 4 this spring — a proposal that Northview High School baseball coach Darren Murphy was part of introducing. According to sources, however, it has a small chance of passing.
“If you’re a baseball follower or baseball purist, you know baseball is not a single-elimination game,” Murphy said. “In college, professional and even Little League, it’s a series.
“In baseball, you shouldn’t get eliminated just because a team has a dominant pitcher. In a double elimination, it allows the best teams to win most of the time.”
According to the double-elimination proposal, the regular season would end one week earlier to allow for an extra week of playoffs, and there would be single elimination wild card games to create a 32-team field for each playoff division. (to continue click thread).
Once the field is set, the 32-teams are broken into four eight-team brackets, with teams seeded one through eight in each bracket.
Each eight-team bracket would play a traditional double-elimination tournament over a two-week period, which would consist of two rounds the first week, and three rounds the second week to determine a champion of each bracket.
To determine home games, CIF rules would still apply.
Higher seeds and league champions would host first-round games, and teams with the fewest home games would automatically host subsequent rounds, with coin flips determining tie-breakers when both teams have had the same number of home games.
Once you get to the championship game, the team that advanced to the finals undefeated would automatically host the championship of each bracket, and a second game if needed.
Once the semifinalists are determined, the semifinal and championship rounds would each be a best-of-three to determine the champion.
In the current format, you have to win five consecutive games to win a championship. In a double-elimination, it could take as many as 12 games or as few as eight games to win a title.
If the proposal is adopted, one downside is there would likely be no championship games at Dodger or Angel Stadium for the top four divisions.
Instead, the semifinalists and finalists would agree on a neutral site to play the best-of-three, which most likely would be at a community college or high school capable of supporting a large crowd.
“If they (section council) decide that’s what they want to do (double elimination), we’ll make an adjustment in terms of sites to make it work,” CIF spokesperson Thom Simmons said. “It probably wouldn’t be feasible to play consecutive days at Dodger or Angel Stadium. But we’re blessed with other outstanding venues such as minor league ballparks, college facilities and some high school’s that we could make it work if that’s the will of the section.”
There are many other factors to consider, such as revenue, cost of officials, and the cost of teams traveling back-and-forth and in some cases, having to stay in hotels because of long road trips and back-to-back games.
Still, as a concept, most coaches like it.
Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto is in favor of the proposal, even though the Lancers won the Division 4 title over Palm Desert at Dodger Stadium in June.
“What it does is favor and reward teams that have had a consistent year,” Nieto said. “There are always going to be upsets, but there are more upsets in a one-game elimination than a tournament or best-out-of-three. It favors a team that has pitching, not just one pitcher.”
South Hills coach Kevin Smith isn’t sure how it will work logistically, but he’s in favor of a two-year experiment. The Huskies compete in Division 2.
“If they can organize it I think it’s the way to go,” Smith said. “It’s a true champion. You don’t get beat by one horse on the mound, or one bad ball that beats you.
“This is the way you’re supposed to crown a champion in baseball. But I realize it’s a lot of games, and there’s a lot more to it. But on the surface, I support a two-year trial. If it works and everyone likes it, it’s the way to go. If not, we go back to playing the traditional way.”
That’s the part that Bonita coach John Knott is conflicted with.
The Bearcats were eliminated in the Division 3 semifinals by Beckman, 8-2.
Bonita would have probably benefitted from a double elimination tournament, because it had arguably the best pitcher in the division, Justin Garza, who finished 13-0 and threw two shutouts in the playoffs, but wasn’t available in the semifinal loss.
“For me the benefit is it rewards the best team with the best pitching,” Knott said. “The downfall is the system we have in place is the system that I grew up in, that everyone grew up in. It isn’t always fair, but high school baseball has always been a single-elimination tournament where every pitch and every game matters. That’s a part of history that’s tough for me to touch.
“Plus, for players having the opportunity of playing that one championship in Dodger stadium or Anaheim, that’s priceless.”
Murphy’s not sure if there are enough supporters of the proposal for it to pass, but he thinks it’s a direction that high school baseball should at least experiment with.
“I’m a little skeptical that it will pass just because it’s so radical,” Murphy said. “It’s not to many games for baseball people, but it might be to many games for principals, ASB, and student bodies afraid of what the bills are going to be like.
“I get that to a degree, but if we can get this two-year pilot, figure out how you charge for playoff games and tie up the loose ends, we should give it a shot.
“It’s not going to be hard convincing the good programs, most of them are in favor of it. It’s going to be hard convincing those teams that are just happy to be in the playoffs, and want that one game shot of knocking off a top team.”