Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oh that damned Page system

Not long after Jennifer Jones and her Manitoba crew became the first team since Linda Moore back in 1985 to post a perfect 11-0 record, there was a poignant Tweet from the skip’s partner Brent Laing.
Laing is bang on. Once again, the Page Playoff System has shown itself to be ridiculous. A record of 11-0 is the same as 10-1. What sense does that make?

The system was first put into play in curling at the 1995 Brier but it dates back to the 1950s in Australian rugby. It’s also common in softball. But just about everywhere else, the rule is used with two divisions.

Curling is the only place I could find where it’s bastardized for one league. And that’s why it makes no sense, especially when a team goes perfect through the round robin as Jones and company did.

 Here’s the problem: a team has a tremendous week and beats everyone else. For arguments sake, we’ll say the second-place team finishes at 7-4. But the only difference at the end of the week is hammer?

Fair? Not in my book. 11-0 should go to the final.

 Some argue that it gives the round-robin winner two chances to reach the final but I can tell you that every skip I’ve interviewed over the years would be more than happy to get in the final game and have one shot to win it all.

 Glenn Howard is perhaps the most vocal opponent of the Page system and he has told me countless times that one game for all marbles is his choice.

The Page system was brought in to stabilize the television schedule and ensure there are meaningful games to be broadcast at defined times. Previous to this, there was always the chance that there would be no contest on the Friday evening. With the elimination of the morning draws, however, that’s no longer a factor. The round robin doesn’t end until Friday.

 What should be in place is a true playoff round: third and fourth meet in a quarter-final, winner plays second in the semi, winner plays first in the final.

At the time it was brought in, the CCA said it didn’t want to put any team two games up (or back) in the playoff round, which was laughed upon because that’s what the round-robin sort of decides, doesn’t it?

It’s saying 11-0 is only one game better than 6-5.

 All the complaining however isn’t going to change any of this. There’s zero talk of dropping the Page system. And if there’s one good thing, it’s that the average curling fan has gained an understanding of how it works. There are no more confused looks when you try to tell folks about three vs. four and all that.

 Now, if we could just get rid of that bronze medal game. . .

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