Monday, March 29, 2010
Buster Olney has a good article on his suggestions for MLB realignment, and in one of his finer points, he says: "The divisions have served baseball nicely, but it makes no sense that the Angels have to compete against three other teams for their division title, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds have to compete against five teams."
I mean, seriously. I understand it made sense to move Milwaukee out of a West Coast league (they played in the AL East with the Angels, Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers until 1993), but it isn't that big of a deal if the Rangers still have to play there. To stack the deck in the NL Central for six teams hypothetically decreases the odds each team there has to make the playoffs.
Another difficult thing to settle is playing the Yankees and their ginormous payroll every year. There's no doubt it's tough for the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, and even the Red Sox to compete with that every year, but maybe they should create a salary cap and floor or some better system than revenue sharing to fix that problem instead of tearing up the current format and creating a new one.
I'm not a baseball purist or anything, and I'm not sure what the purist argument would be here. Buster suggests having two different leagues and tearing up the divisional format, giving the top six seeds in each league a playoff birth, giving the 1 and 2 seeds byes in the first round, and playing a three-game series with the 3s vs. 6s and 4s vs. 5s. All three games in these "wild card" series would be played at the home of the higher seed, giving the lower seeds a gift of allowing them to make the playoffs, while keeping the important advantage in the hands of the higher seed that performed better during the regular season.
I actually agree with most of what Buster Olney says. It makes complete sense to tear up the current system and even up the number of teams in each league, you keep things competitive throughout the season (I imagine there will be a substantial handful of teams competing for the 5-6 spots in the last two weeks of the season), and the Astros don't have to play the Reds 15 times (9.3% of your games), and 75 games against your entire division (46.3% of your total games) during the course of an entire season. The Rangers actually play the Oakland A's 19 times during the season! It makes sense when winning the division is something important, I guess, since winning your division should mean beating those within your division the majority of the time. The advantage of eliminating the division format clearly would lift the need for the absurdity of playing nearly 40% of your games against three opponents. MLB still has the advantage of scheduling intra-city/state rivalries through interleague play, so the fans and owners fan stay happy.
I do wonder if 16 teams will stay in the NL and 14 in the AL, or if some franchise prefers to use the DH and wants to switch to the AL. Is there some sort of perverted application process where Bud Selig chooses a team (probably the Brewers), or is it like the South Park episode on the financial bailout where Congressional leaders decapitate a chicken while playing a kazoo until it lands on BAILOUT!!...?
You have the owners and the players, the umpires, Bud Selig and his own MLB/Milwaukee Brewers' favoring agenda, so there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. I don't know how it will be settled, but I think Buster officially convinced me of the merits of ditching the divisional format.
Anyway, talking about Bud Selig so much will probably cause me to be in a bad mood the rest of the day, so I'm going to dedicate the rest of my day to developing a Selig-criticizing post tomorrow.
For now, Bud Selig has been indirectly criticized for allowing this stupid scheduling format to exist.