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MLB, MLBPA discussing realignment, two 15-team leagues

Jun 11, 2011, 2:58 PM EDT

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York Reuters

ESPN’s Buster Olney has heard from three different sources that Major League Baseball and the players’ union are discussing a plan to move one team from the National League to the American League in order to even up the amount of clubs in each circuit.

The National League currently has 16 teams and a six-club Central division. The American League has 14 teams and a four-club West division. This new plan, which still needs to be voted on and stands only a “50-50″ chance of being passed according to an Olney source, would even up those two lopsided divisions while putting 15 clubs in each league.

From a competitive standpoint, it’s the kind of thing that needs to happen. It’s not fair that the teams in the National League Central are at worse odds of reaching the postseason than the teams in all other divisions. The Cardinals, or Brewers, or Cubs must finish with a better record than five other squads in order to win the division and secure a playoff berth. The division winner in the American League West, meanwhile, only has to beat out three teams. The odds can change yearly based on talent level and the Wild Card race — at the moment it’s an advantage to have the Astros and Pirates on the schedule frequently — but simple math says a team in the Central will face a disadvantage most seasons. And, hey, the Bucs are showing signs of life.

Two club executives suggested to Olney that the Astros, currently at the bottom of the NL Central, would likely be moved to the AL West to create a potential rivalry in Texas with the Arlington-based Rangers.

There’s also been a discussion of getting rid of divisions altogether, and simply awarding playoff spots to the top five records in each league. The NHL has a well-received setup that is fairly similar.

It all makes a world of sense, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that Major League Baseball tweaked its divisional alignment. Now let’s hope that it doesn’t take too long, as instant replay has, to be properly implemented. Change is a good thing, especially when it rights a clear wrong.

  1. derekjetersmansion - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Except there would have to be 2 interleague series every week.

    • JBerardi - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      Is that a problem? It sounds better than what we have now to me.

  2. wondroushippo - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    So…two teams are going to be playing interleague games? Kind of a shame.

  3. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    I agree with need for moving one NL team to the AL, but i dont know about Houston. Granted there would be a rivalry with Texas, but Houston has been in the NL since 1962. I know they moved the Brewers from the AL but i would imagine that most Brewers fans wish that didnt happen. I would suggest the Rockies to the AL than move Houston to the NL west. Or move the Brew crew back to the AL central and switch KC to the AL west.

    • derekjetersmansion - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Bud won’t let that happen. He ‘volunteered’ to move the Brewers.

  4. Ari Collins - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Creating a fairer chance at the playoffs is probably a bigger plus than the problem with uneven-numbered leagues is a negative.

    Considering it could create more interleague, I can actually see Bud getting this done. Eventually.

    But I always thought it would take until we added two more teams to even up the leagues.

    • goforthanddie - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      “But I always thought it would take until we added two more teams to even up the leagues.”
      1-Realignment.
      2-?
      3-Profit/Expansion!

      • purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        No; MLB expansion isn’t going to happen in our lifetimes, simply because the cost of running a franchise has become too prohibitive for any of the remaining markets; they simply aren’t big enough to be financially viable.

        In addition, baseball already has two problem franchises who are stuck in crappy, obsolete stadiums (Tampa Bay and Oakland), with no where to go. Well, that’s actually not totally true. Downtown San Jose would welcome the A’s with open arms, but Selig won’t step in and force the Giants to relinquish their totally bogus territorial rights (he apparently would rather see the A’s fold).

        As I see it, here are the remaining open North American MLB markets:

        Las Vegas – A reeling economy (worst unemployment rate in the country), and “taboo” as far as MLB is concerned.

        Charlotte – Not big enough by itself and regional franchises (by splitting games in Raleigh), have never worked.

        Portland – Too small, few decent sized corporate headquarters, too close to Seattle, too isolated.

        Montreal – It will take another century before baseball gets the bad taste of how the Expo’s wound up out of their mouths.

        Jacksonville – Too small; can’t even support an NFL franchise with far fewer games.

        Nashville – Too small.

        San Juan, P.R. – Would need a new stadium and there’s no money or public support to build one either.

        Bottom line? Contraction is far more likely than expansion.

  5. Ari Collins - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Oh, and although they won’t be bad forever, moving the Astros to the AL would even the distribution of talent somewhat between the leagues.

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 11, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    The nicest way to do it would be 6 five team divisions. The schedule would consist of 18 games in division, 6 games against the other teams in the league, 6 games against the teams in one division of the other league. Checking my math (18 x 4) + (6 x 10) + (6 x 5) = 72 + 60 +30 = 162 games. No two, four, or five game series. Three game series make scheduling much easier.

    I know some want to jump through loops and try and “balance” the schedule (adding 2, 4, and 5 game series). That is a very bad idea as it will lead to sub-500 teams winning their division. Doing away with division would be a bad idea as it will lead to 75% of teams playing meaningless in August and September.

    • tmohr - Jun 11, 2011 at 4:27 PM

      The problem here is that with an odd number of teams in each league, you need constant interleague play, unless you’re OK with teams having three days off at regular intervals.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 12, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        Yes, there will be interleague play every day, just like there is interdivisional play every day.

  7. jamie54 - Jun 11, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    One team moving only makes sense and its taken how long to happen? So don’t go thinking about switching this team here, or that team there type of stuff, its not going to happen. Baseball moves in its own snail like pace so any other moves in conjunction with one team moving from the NL Central to the AL West would never happen. Never. Of course logistically moving Houston makes sense since you already have one team within a short area in the same division those road games are so close it’s a no brainer. Milwaukee just came over from the AL so no way they move back.

  8. Old Gator - Jun 11, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    As long as some team other than the Feesh moves to the AL, I couldn’t care less. I want to have to watch that decerebrated mammoth hunt for the dimwitted known as designatedhitterball like I want my hemorrhoids to flare up.

    As far as “fair,” if we’re so worried that teams be justly rewarded for their season-long efforts on a par with all other teams, let’s scrap Bud’s idiotic home-field advantage trophy for the winner of the All Star Game and award home field advantage to the teams that have earned it.

  9. purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    We all know that the reason Milwaukee was moved in the first place from the AL to the NL was because Selig knew that by doing so the value of the franchise that at the time he owned in a trust and was being run by his daughter would instantly increase in value (with the more attractive gates from St. Louis and the Cubs coming frequently to town, as the Brewers really had no AL rivals that were box office draws at the time).

    Now would be the perfect time though to move the Lastro’s to the AL West for the following reasons:

    * They have new ownership coming in who I believe still have to be formally approved by a majority of the other owners. Can you say, “leverage”?

    * Houston’s highest paid player is stiff Carlos Lee, who still has another year or two to run on his contract. Can you say, “DH”?

    * Houston and Texas would eventually make a great rivalry, as otherwise they are both isolated from any other rivals.

    * What better time to move a franchise to the other league while they can claim that by doing so it would hurt their playoff chances?

    • paperlions - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:23 PM

      Actually, KC was offered the opportunity to move to the NL first, they declined. Then the Brewers were asked, and accepted.

    • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:30 AM

      I want to respond to one of your earlier points, but you can’t reply directly to a reply.

      I don’t think the size of the market is really the most important determining factor in whether or not a sports team will be successful. You mentioned Portland for example, but as far as I know, and I could be wrong, the Trailblazers have been financially viable there for some time.

      You also say that Portland is too close to Seattle to be viable. But what about the close proximity of Baltimore to Philadelphia, of Philadelphia to New York, and of Milwaukee to Chicago? And Portland’s market is bigger than that of Baltimore, San Diego, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati.

      If the size of the market were the most important determinant then Tampa Bay wouldn’t have a problem putting asses in the seats, since its the 12th largest market in the country (or 13th, depending on the source), ahead of cities like St. Louis and Cincinnati, which are numbers 21 and 34, respectively, and which have two of the oldest franchises in baseball . The problem in Tampa, Miami, and San Diego is that they’re very transient cities. Significant portions of their populations are from somewhere else originally and are loyal to another team. Plus, there’s less of a need there for baseball to distract from how crappy the environs are than in a place like Detroit.

      Harrisburg-Lancaster, Pennsylvania, believe it or not, is actually a bigger market than some major cities with teams in other sports, like Memphis, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, and Buffalo. But there’s not one centralized anchor city in the market for people to rally behind. Plus I think people in small cities are less interested in inter-city competition. I think the decentralization factor is part of Tampa’s problem.

      Part of the reason cities like Cincinnati and St. Louis and many others can have viable teams is that they have large populations situated around urban cores that they’re connected with culturally, politically, and infrastructurally. Tampa Bay doesn’t because it’s basically three different cities with considerable physical separation. They have skylines that people identify with and recognize and that instill a sense of hometown pride. They have communities with history where the people have ties to the area. They feel some kind of bond with the city. So smaller cities can support sports teams because the people there feel enough of a connection with their city to support the team that represents it on a national stage. The same can’t be said for Miami or San Diego, where half the population is either an immigrant or a transplant and the rest is pretty much on a permanent vacation (although they both have pretty impressive skylines).

      Given that Nashville and Charlotte (both of which have bigger markets than Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati) are not warm, sunny, destination beach towns, and have a culture of their own, there’s no reason a baseball team won’t do perfectly well there. You also neglected to mention Louisville (which is bigger than people realize, has a history with baseball and an obvious team name), New Orleans, Indianapolis (the Pacers and Colts do just fine), and Memphis (which has cultural and market ties to Nashville). Maybe that’s because some of those cities have minor league teams, but they can be moved and their stadiums upgraded for a major league club. I mean come on, how is there not a baseball team in the city where baseball bats are made?

      I’m not sure why San Jose is clamoring for a team. Maybe there’s more competition among anchor cities in the Bay Area than I thought. But in any case moving them to Portland seems perfectly reasonable. Portland knows how to get things done so they can probably get a beautiful, green, downtown stadium off the ground pretty quickly. Move Houston to the AL West and move the Rays to Charlotte, New Orleans, Nashville/Memphis, Louisville or Indianapolis. If you can’t get away with keeping them in the AL East then put them in the Central and move
      Cleveland or Detroit to the East.

  10. paperlions - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    I don’t think the reason Bud is pushing this is to even the odds of making the playoffs for teams in each league. I think Bud is doing it because it will require inter-league play, thereby making it more difficult to get rid of in the future.

    • buckybadger - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:38 PM

      Inter-league play isn’t going anywhere regardless. Its too good for baseball and the owners make money off of it. You can’t have ball clubs like the Red Sox and Yankees who have rosters full of stars and not have them play in half the ball parks in the league ever. Doesn’t make sense.

    • purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 7:03 PM

      Intereleague play IS the reason behind this move, but not to eliminate it. In order to stop interleague play, you’d now have to get the majority of the owners to approve that and you don’t get rich by biting the hand that feeds you (the last nation wide pole done just prior to the start of this years first interleague series showed that 80% of baseball fans want interleague play).

      I think that it’s more a question of timing. The door has opened with a new CBA being negotiated, new ownership in Houston and most importantly, interleague play and divisional based scheduling that have eliminated the reason for going to an even number of teams in each league in the first place.

  11. buckybadger - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    This really does make sense. I don’t like the idea of no divisions. Not in baseball. Than every one in each league would have to play each other equally to make things fair. Easier to do with just 5 teams instead of 15.

    Houston probably makes the most sense geographically but it gives Texas two AL teams. Usually that is split up and again is good for baseball they do that. Could move the Brewers over how are originally AL anyways. Might need to slide over Kansas City to the west which isn’t great geographically.

    • purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 7:21 PM

      I don’t like the idea of no divisions either, but ultimately it’s going to be decided based on what the networks will dictate in order to keep the big guaranteed recession proof money coming in.

      Baseball is in a catch-22 situation right now. By going to divisional based scheduling, travel costs have come way down and division rivalries created. The flip to that though is it has also really regionalized the game, which is why the playoff and world series national ratings continue to tumble.

      I’m a huge baseball fan, but I didn’t watch any of the Mets-Yankees WS or any of last years WS either, simply because I had no interest in any of the teams playing in them. Now had one of those teams been from the AL Central, Cubs or Brewers? I definitely would have watched ALL of the games.

      Point being, if divisions were eliminated it would make baseball’s playoffs more relevant on a national basis.

      One thing I failed to mention in my prior post … baseball’s going to implement a wild card play in game or best of 3 play in series in both leagues. It will stimulate a lot more interest if the divisions are all logically balanced (as they are in the NFL), with the same number of teams in each.

      Due to decades of free agency and the elimination of separate league offices and pooled umpires, the lines defining the two leagues have blurred to the point to where only the DH is the difference, so I don’t think it’s any kind of big deal if you have both teams in Texas or Florida in the same league anymore.

  12. dogsweat1 - Jun 11, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    There is only one way to heat this league up………………….

    West Division:

    Los Angeles

    Los Angeles

    San Francisco

    Oakland

    San Diego

    Central Division:

    Chicago

    Chicago

    Milwaukee

    Toronto

    Detroit

    East Division

    New York

    New York

    Boston

    Miami

    Atlanta

    National League

    West Division:

    Colorado

    Seattle

    Arizona

    Houston

    Texas

    Central Division:

    Cincinnati

    Cleveland

    St. Louis

    Kansas City

    Minnesota

    East Division

    Philadelphia

    Pittsburgh

    Baltimore

    Washington

    Tampa Bay

    • purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM

      dogs… per my earlier post, the lines between the two leagues have blurred to the point where only the DH rule separates the two, and as I’ve posted many times, it’s WAY overdue to be implemented universally in baseball.

      If following the NFL’s very successful lead in terms of redefining divisions mixing teams from both leagues by establishing six new divisions and two conferences, so long as the DH is universally implemented I wouldn’t have a problem with doing so.

      There would be an awful lot of uproar though over what you’ve proposed, as I think that fans in Chicago and St. Louis would howl like scalded dogs if the Cubs and Cardinals were broken up. That could easily be solved though by flip flopping St. Louis with Toronto in your proposal (as Toronto is more like a stand alone entity that could be placed anywhere in the east or central).

      I also don’t think that baseball would want both New York teams and Boston in the same division, as that’s one too many big market/big spending franchise. That could be solved though by flip-flopping the Mets with Tampa Bay in your proposal in order to balance things out better.

      I don’t live in New York, but the sense of what I feel is that the Met-Yankee rivalry isn’t nearly on par with that of the Yankee-Red Sox or White Sox-Cubs rivalry, just as there really is no rivalry here in LA between the Clippers and Lakers or the Angels and Dodgers because the fan bases are simply far too disparate.

      • mattlion - Jun 11, 2011 at 11:51 PM

        Dogsweat’s divisions look really cool at first until you realize that the AL would be a major-market powerhouse and the NL would have 2 stable, well-run franchises (Philly, St. Louis) mixed with teams that come and go.

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:47 AM

        Wait a minute, you think that the DH rule should be implemented universally? The DH rule eliminates so much of the strategy that comes into play in later innings and makes the game more boring. And it cuts back on small-ball. Even if you don’t personally like small-ball, it’s good to see two teams playing each other with very different strategies, and it’s important for a traditional sport like baseball to stay true to its roots. The DH was only created to lure fans in dual-team cities away from the NL. Now that the leagues are no longer in competition, it should be dropped.

      • purdueman - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:58 AM

        set…. 40 years ago when the DH was first implemented, I could buy your argument but now it’s little more than hogwash.

        What “strategy” is that you are referring to? No doubt the ONLY thing that you can point to is the “La Russa Double Switch” (so named because he’s obsessed with it). Here’s why the “double switch if largely obsolete though:

        * Every major league team now employs one or two designated set up men and a closer. Regardless of where the pitcher is scheduled to hit, come the 8th inning if the game is close or the a team winning, the setup men come in in the 8th; the closer in the 9th.

        What this means is that the ONLY time the double switch comes into play during a regular 9 inning game is either the 6th or 7th inning… one at bat. Because the double switch requires the pinch hitter to stay in the game and field a position, most of the time it’s a punch and judy utility infielder who’s lucky to hit .250 over the course of the season with little power.

        So you’re trying to tell me that watching a starting pitcher usually hopelessly flail away two or three times a game just so that a utility infielder like Aaron Miles can potentially get an extra at bat is “strategy”? Give me an ‘effing break! I wouldn’t pay my way in to watch Aaron Miles hit, nor if you’re honest with yourself would you, anymore than I want to sleep through the vast majority of the pitchers trying to hit either.

        What the DH has done in the AL though, largely thanks to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, has allowed regulars to get a badly needed day off their feet once in a while and it now makes the 9th hitter a VERY strategic place in the order, because it acts as a “second leadoff man”.

        Outhouses are quaint, but the NL needs to come out of the 19th century and catch up with the rest of the world.

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:07 AM

        It makes the decision about when to pull a starter or a middle reliever/longman less clear cut. I’m not saying the difference can be felt during every inning, but it’s little things like that that make the game what it is. First they started talking about instant replay and computers calling balls and strikes, now this. What’s next, robotic pitchers? The game is all about tradition. Let the NFL, NBA, and NHL keep up with all of the latest technology and flashy rules. Baseball is about time-honored tradition, history, and continuity.

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:08 AM

        Besides, you didn’t respond to the small-ball argument.

      • purdueman - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:14 AM

        set… the Padres ONLY play small ball and I live in Orange County, CA (midway between downtown LA and downtown San Diego), and listen to a lot of San Diego sports talk radio on the XTRA super station.

        San Diego fans are beside themselves over so many game after game after games of small ball, low scoring, very boring home games. In fact, Petco Field is now being universally called “Hitters Hell” in San Diego. You call THAT exciting? Then you must be also a big fan of outdoor soccer and synchronized swimming!

        There are AL teams that play small ball, but in order for that to be effective in the AL you need speed at both the top and bottom of the lineup, which few clubs have. Check out the A’s team stats… aside from Matsui, they don’t have any hitters who could even hit a home run in an old fashioned phone booth…exciting? Zzzz-zzzzzzz!

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:36 AM

        Purdue you might not be a big fan of small ball, or maybe you’re just spending too much time watching a bad team play small ball poorly, but the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 playing small ball (at least game 5). Most of the hard core baseball fans I know love small ball, and many think it’s more interesting than watching a team that goes yard three times each game. I mean what’s more compelling, base hits, stolen bases, sac flies, bunts, and capitalizing on errors, or nothing but singles and home runs? Small ball offers more suspense. Not that I don’t love seeing Ryan Howard erase a three-run deficit with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the 8th, but I also love watching Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino snag second base once in a while. Hell, Jayson Werth stole home last year.

  13. Chipmaker - Jun 11, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Reasons why:
    1. Money (more), mainly from television.
    2. Lowering the bar.

    Teevee wants the Yankees (and a few other select teams, from a small rotation) in the postseason. EVERY YEAR. This method would expand the Yanks’ chances from two possible golden tickets, to five. And pennant races would be for fifth place more than for first.

    As a fan, I understand MLB’s interest in doing this, but for me there’s no real upside.

    At least the game, on the individual basis, remains great.

  14. stairwayto7 - Jun 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Why not contract the A’s and the Marlins, move the Brewers back to the AL and have no divisions! 14 teams in AL, 14 in NL, top 4 make playoffs! I am tired of watching RedSox-Yankees 19 times a season! When its interleague time, everyone plays 4 teams on yearly rotaiing basis, no no more Yanks- Mets 6 times a year!

    • purdueman - Jun 11, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      Simple answer to the question you pose stair…

      Most people I run into don’t realize that San Jose is the 10th largest US city; far bigger in fact than many cities that already have MLB franchises. The strong Latino demographic in San Jose makes it a great fit for an MLB team. The A’s ownership feels that they have a financially viable plan to privately finance a downtown San Jose new ballpark as well.

      The Giants were granted territorial rights to San Jose back when they were threatening to move because they were stuck in Candlestick Park. Then they moved 30 minutes NORTH of San Jose to downtown San Francisco, but because Selig and the Giants owners are butt buddies, Selig continues to stonewall a move by the A’s to San Jose.

      Tampa Bay is a very viable MLB market; the problem is having an obsolete stadium, a horrible lease and being closer to old sleepy St. Petersburg (a retirement mecca, not home to corporations as is the case in Tampa), and in order to get there you have to fight the traffic clogged bridge over the Bay which understandably Tampa residents don’t want to hassle with on worknights.

      The solution is simple though for both franchises. Just as the NFL stepped in a few years back to provide financing for much needed new stadiums, MLB needs to do the same thing in Tampa (i.e., negotiate a buyout of the Rays existing lease and spread the cost across the other 29 teams), and tell the Giants to shove their territorial rights and grant the A’s immediate permission to move to downtown San Jose.

      • simon94022 - Jun 12, 2011 at 2:12 PM

        purdueman, there are a lot of problems with your summary of the A’s situation.

        The Giants’ rights to Santa Clara County have been baked into the sale price of BOTH the A’s and Giants. So the Magowan/Neukom group bought the Giants including rights to San Jose. And Lew Wolff bought the A’s at a discount because the franchise was confined to the East Bay. So whether you think it’s fair or unfair, any realistic understanding of the Bay Area situation has to reckon with the fact that IF Santa Clara County rights are transferred from the A’s to the Giants, the Giants WILL receive compensation. Look at what happened with Baltimore and Washington, which did not even involve any encroachment on the Orioles’ Territory.

        Second, you exaggerate the San Jose plan’s support. If you have spent time in Santa Clara County you know it is, like most of Northern California, basically a one team market. ALL Giants. Mayor Reed has made the A’s ballpark his personal crusade, but it’s not exactly a grass roots issue. The Mayor knows that — which is why San Jose’s offer is only for the use of land, with the team left to finance privately its own ballpark. And even that would have to be put on the ballot and may not pass. That’s just political reality in California, but it’s FAR below the kind of offer MLB is used to considering, it offers no new revenues that can be used to pay off the Giants, and it easily explains why Selig continues to ignore it.

      • simon94022 - Jun 12, 2011 at 2:19 PM

        Also, the notion that the other 29 clubs are going to step in and finance a stadium in Tampa and absorb the St. Pete lease buy-out costs is ludicrous. The only way a buyout happens is if some other city — Tampa or another market — builds a stadium on terms so favorable to the Rays that Mr. Sternberg is happy to cut a check for the full amount of the remaining rent at the Trop.

      • purdueman - Jun 12, 2011 at 2:48 PM

        simon… the fundamental problem is that baseball’s anti-trust exemption is no longer needed (as per one of my earlier posts, there’s really no where better for franchises to move now than where they already are). With the Giants move 30 minutes further AWAY to the NORTH of San Jose, if I were on a jury I’d rule that by doing so they vacated any claim that they may have had to the San Jose market.

        Simple put, this is a cut and dried restraint of trade violation that baseball can get away with by hiding behind their anti-trust exemption.

  15. dogsweat1 - Jun 11, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Simply Switch—- St Louis and Milwaukee in my early post……

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      That works better as Minnesota and Wisconsin are natural rivals.

  16. Robert - Jun 11, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Dog,

    The standings remix is genius.

    Miami is moving into a new dig.

    They have a hard time selling out.’

    With the Yankees, Mets and Bosox in their division, they can be assured of big crowds…

  17. contraryguy - Jun 11, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    “The Cardinals, or Brewers, or Cubs must finish with a better record than five other squads in order to win the division and secure a playoff berth.”

    or the Reds, who did it last year, but are finding the repeat tougher to do. Speaking of the Reds, divisional play didn’t always make sense for travel purposes; Cinci and Atlanta used to be in the two-division NL West while STL and the Cubs were in the East. But I love the dogsweat idea… mix it up totally. Might work better if there’s one division with all the perennial dogs in it… KC, Pirates, Nats, O’s, Jays? Would at least guarantee that one of those stiffs would win the division every year. W/o divisions, you’ll have all those teams and a few others which will have too tall a mountain to climb to ever get to the playoffs again; good luck selling that image to fans.

    • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:55 AM

      Who the hell wants the Pirates and Royals in the playoffs every year? I don’t think it benefits anyone to make a guarantee that losing teams make it to the postseason. All that does is give an unfair advantage to whoever plays them. The playoffs are about sorting out the best of the best. I’m not saying that it’s a level playing field necessarily, but I don’t think making sure the cream of the crap makes it every season is the right solution.

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 1:56 AM

        I mean think about the uproar in the NFL last year when people realized a sub-.500 team could make it to the playoffs.

      • purdueman - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:07 AM

        Who wants to see the Pirates and Royals in the playoffs? Uh, that would be the good fans of Pittsburgh and Kansas City, fella! The parity formula has turned the NFL into a $9 BILLION dollar a year industry, in case you didn’t know.

        Hey, I didn’t watch any of the Mets-Yankees World Series, nor did I watch any of last years World Series either. I am a huge baseball fan, but because MLB has regionalized baseball to such a large extent now, if a team that I’m not intimately familiar with isn’t in the WS, I could care less.

        Mixing baseball schedules up more would make things MUCH more interesting. When my team only plays another team within their league six or seven times a year, it’s hard to generate much interest if one of those teams gets into the playoffs.

      • sethjl - Jun 14, 2011 at 2:30 AM

        I’m sure there are plenty of people in Pittsburgh or Kansas City that would love to see their team in the playoffs, but I’m not sure how many people outside of those areas are going to be tuning in to watch the Red Sox spank the Royals in round one. I don’t know anything about the NFL’s parity formula, but I don’t see how that can be good for baseball. Your Mets-Yankees example is a bit self-centered, since you assume that nobody else was interested. You also fail to realize that most people might not care about some of the match-ups you find most interesting. What I have found is that people tend not to be interested in watching garbage teams. I’m all for mixing up the schedule. I’d love more than one three-day window when I could travel to Chicago to see my Phillies play, but putting all of the teams that otherwise wouldn’t make it into one division so the underperforming teams will still feel like winners smacks of giving a trophy for trying to a kid who came in dead last in a spelling bee. It’s a little too soft for me. When the highest level of competitive play in American baseball starts building handicap ramps for teams that can’t cut it I think we need to reexamine our priorities. There’s no reason the Pirates can’t put together a good team. They’re not up against any teams who are breaking the luxury tax threshold. The only really big market in their division is Chicago but the Cubs are splitting that market with the White Sox. And Houston, but the Astros aren’t exactly spending Steinbrenner money to stay atop their division.

  18. schmedley69 - Jun 11, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    If you’re going to get rid of the divisions, then you might as well go all out and re-align both leagues geographically. Have one league with teams East of the Mississippi, and one league with teams West of it, or as close as evenly divided as you can get. I watched a few Pirates games on EI last week, and their announcers were complaining about being in a division with teams from a different time zone. They were campaigning for the Pirates to be moved back to the NL East. Makes sense. Try to divide the leagues by time zones. It makes sense to be close to your rivals so you can travel to see your team play on the road.

    • contraryguy - Jun 12, 2011 at 12:12 AM

      quick count, combining the Pacific and Mountain time zones… 8 in the ‘west’, 8 in the Central TZ, and the remaining 14 are in the Eastern TZ. How does that work again?

      btw, the Pirates are lucky they aren’t charged admission to the games they play. Complaining about time zones in division? heh.

      • schmedley69 - Jun 12, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        You could have the west and central teams in one league, and the east teams in another league. There would have to be 1 central team moved to the East.

  19. danberman4 - Jun 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Interleague play every day? What a hideous idea.

    http://pinetarandbrickbats.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-about-radical-realignment.html

  20. purdueman - Jun 12, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    simon… “he notion that the other 29 clubs are going to step in and finance a stadium in Tampa and absorb the St. Pete lease buy-out costs is ludicrous.” Yeah, that’s what they said about adding a wild card in baseball, and that’s what they said when the DH was introduced in baseball, and that’s what they said when the idea of interleague play first surfaced and that’s what they said when Selig implemented revenue sharing and luxury tax too.

    You’re right… can’t happen!

  21. ndirishfan1 - Jun 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    The biggest issue with the current setup is teams like Tampa Bay and Toronto having to continually compete with Boston and New York. Not only are they up against the financial superpowers to make the playoffs, playing Boston and New York combines for nearly 40 games per season. The unbalanced schedule greatly distorts the competition, much more so than any other professional sport.

    What if Toronto or Tampa Bay was currently playing in the AL Central and got to play the Twins (this season) and Royals 40 times a season? They certainly would have better odds of succeeding annually.

    • purdueman - Jun 12, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      ndirsh… I feel the pain that Orioles, Rays and Blue Jay fans have to feel not only getting stuck in the same division as the two largest payroll teams year in and year out and as a result making it even tougher for them to attract free agents, and having to play both of these teams 19-21 times a year in the regular season as well.

      The road to the World Series is as a result far more difficult (and inequitable), than the road that a team in the NL Central has to travel to get there. As I’ve been stumping for a long time now, the differences between the NL and AL have blurred to the point to where now only the DH is the only significant difference, so I’m all in favor of junking divisional based schedules in the name of parity.

      The NFL of course is the model for parity, where EVERY franchise has legitimate hope that their team can make the playoffs at least once every five years or so. Pittsburgh’s a great baseball town, yet it’s now coming up on two decades since their fans had even a snowballs chance in hell at making the playoffs.

      Sure, a lot of Pittsburgh’s lack of competitiveness was a direct result of their prior ownership that didn’t invest in the club, but that’s not the case with their new ownership thusfar. That said though, if Pittsburgh were stuck in the AL East, no matter what they do or how well they are managed their chances of getting to a world series would be ridiculously small when compared to what they now are.

      Bottom line? Time for a change IMO.

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