Monday, 24 April 2017

Tied and Trusted

It may not be well known, but when the Football League was established in 1888, the plan was for the table to be based on wins. 

After a few games, it was realised that this wasn't such a great idea, as drawing and losing were treated the same, and so the idea of two points for a win, one point for a draw was introduced, a format which lasted until the 1980-81 season in England, and longer in the rest of the world. 

In a league format, most of the world has long accepted that a draw is perfectly reasonable, whether they count as half a win or less. 

Major US sports are something of an exception. Tied regular season (i.e. league) games in the NFL go to an extra (up to) 15 minutes of play. The NHL play an extra (up to) 5 minutes of play before having a penalty shoot-out. NBA games play as many 5 minute periods of overtime as necessary until there is a winner, and baseball plays on forever.

However, Baseball is currently looking at ways of shortening their games, and one idea being mooted is allowing games to be ties if they are level after 12 innings, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. The idea that ties in baseball are "not traditional" is nonsense, as this 538 article details.

Ties in general are seen as un-American - must have a winner each time - although the younger MLS crowds have no problem with the concept. They also embrace the idea of games lasting under two hours rather than up to 8 hours and 25 minutes which is the record for longest professional baseball game! 

I'm not sure why there would be an issue calling games as tied after nine innings, but in line with other sports there, it seems at least a token effort at breaking the tie is required. 

As for the (not very interesting) question raised below - "how would baseball treat them" just treat them as half a win! There's already a play-off arrangement in place for teams tied at the end of the season, so whether the tie is 90 wins each or 90.5 "wins" each, it's all the same.

If ties did come back, one interesting question would be how baseball would treat them. In the days before lights, tied games were often replayed from scratch; the 1907, 1912 and 1922 World Series all featured extra games because of ties. Starting a brand-new game every time there’s a tie is unlikely in today’s game, however, when one of the chief arguments for allowing ties is reducing the risk of player injury. One alternative could be that tied games just remain ties, unless they need to be made up at the end of the season to determine playoff positioning. (That could make for an exciting finish to a pennant race!)
The idea of starting games over in a league format is nonsensical, but at least the perfectly reasonable idea of a tie is being discussed. 

1 comment:

James said...

I would have thought that wins in a football league is perfectly fine. I struggle to remember the last league champion that didn't win the most games.

If teams have an equal win count then they should be ordered by the combined results between them.

Looking back at the last five EPL seasons, the last four were won by teams winning the most games. The one before those four was tied between Man City and Man United with 28 wins each.

However, taking City's 1-0 and 6-1 victories over United gives them the edge. They also won by goal difference using the current system.