My coworker (who's a loyal White Sox fan) and I were discussing the season, now almost complete. As he started to tease me that the Cubs would be continuing their "haven't won a world championship since the dawn of mankind" streak, I proceeded to remind him that his Sox, too, were simply a .500 ballclub and had no shot in Purgatory of making the postseason either.
This back and forth got me thinking about baseball in general. With all the new rules that were made that were supposed to bring more parity to the sport (the luxury tax, the addition of the wild card), there are still only 8 teams that make the playoffs in any given year. That means that 22 other teams miss the chance to play for the championship.
Now let's focus on these 22 other teams. For clubs such as Cincinnati, the White Sox, or even the Cardinals (who as of this post are 8 games over .500), they'll have no opportunity to hoist the World Series trophy this year, barring a late-season miracle. In this way, they are no different than the Cubs, who've been out of contention since roughly Memorial Day. But there will be some in those other camps who will say "but we had a better season than you guys". In terms of wins and losses, this may be true; but in terms of winning the World Series, those clubs are just as eliminated from the postseason as the rest of us.
The other factor coming into play is the length of the season. 162 games makes for a long and painful season if your club is 15 games under .500 in the middle of June. However, a long season can also tease fans with thoughts of "if they can make that late-season run, they'll be in the playoffs." In most cases, that late-season run never happens, leaving fans feeling just as empty and bitter as the fans of the cellar-dwelling teams.
So as a baseball fan, I ask you: do you feel better that your club's eliminated from postseason contention in mid-June, or do you prefer that your team's in contention until late September but still doesn't make the playoffs? I know that we'd all want the Cubs to be in Milwaukee's position right now, 25 games over .500 and streaking toward the playoffs; but if your team's not going to the postseason, how would you prefer that they miss out?