During these slow days of winter (unless you count that Willy Taveras blockbuster!) we’re subject to lots of nonsense stories, usually stuff about salary caps and competitive balance, but in some case realignment as well. David Schoenfield wrote a feature for ESPN in which he presents what their editors call a “radical idea” for making baseball less unfair by reorganizing the divisions each year. Allow me to excerpt.
Why does baseball have to keep the same division format every year? Why should Tampa Bay and Baltimore always have to beat out the Yankees and Red Sox while the AL Central teams duel each other to 87 wins? Why should the Angels only have to beat out three teams instead of four in the AL West?
So the plan is to realign the divisions after every season. For the American League, there would be three basic rules:
1. The Yankees and Red Sox always remain in the AL East. It makes sense and it’s good for the game.
2. Tampa, Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit and Cleveland can play only in the AL East or AL Central. All five cities are in the Eastern time zone and having them play in the West creates logistical and television issues.
3. The Angels, Seattle and Oakland always remain in the AL West. This makes sense for logistical reasons, as well.
Now, how do we disperse the remaining teams? Simple. MLB holds a big telecast two days after the World Series ends. We put all the team names in a big ball like during the NBA lottery selection show. Teams send their general manager and a star player and Hall of Famers like George Brett and Reggie Jackson draw out the team names. You wouldn’t watch this? You wouldn’t love to see Dave Dombrowski throw up in his mouth when the Tigers draw the AL East? You wouldn’t get excited to see Andrew Friedman high-fiving Evan Longoria when the Rays draw the AL Central? You know you would watch this.
Well, I probably wouldn’t watch it, but in general the idea of changing the division each year is completely unrealistic (and to his credit, Schoenfield acknowledges that). Why are we punishing the Yankees (and Red Sox) by keeping them in the same division year after year, while other teams get to enjoy life outside the AL East? Believe or not, there will be a point in time when either the Yankees or Red Sox aren’t competitive, so what are we going to do then, lump them in with the group that gets to change divisions each year? Aside from that, you’re killing some rivalries by constantly moving teams around. It’s not just the Yanks-Sox, it’s the Cardinals and Cubs, or the Giants and the Dodgers.
The game is in a place right now where the the two most dominant teams are in one division. It’s not fair to the other three clubs stuck in the division, but that’s life. Was anyone suggesting that baseball should realign when the Blue Jays and A’s were dominating baseball in the late-80’s/early-90’s? Somehow I think not.
Anyway, that’s my rant for the evening, and here’s your open thread. The big story of the night is Nick Swisher’s cameo on How I Met Your Mother (WCBS, 8pm), in which he’ll be playing Nick Swisher. I’ve never watched the show, but I’ve already set the DVR. Other than that, you’ve got House and 24, but none of the sports locals are in action. Enjoy the thread.