Mar
10

A complex solution to a modest problem

By

Does baseball need to realign its teams and divisions? Probably not, but that won’t stop interested parties from discussing the possibilities. A few weeks ago Ben addressed Ken Rosenthal’s plan, which includes many teams switching teams and leagues. That might have sounded radical, but it’s not quite at the level of the plan Tom Verducci shares. Unlike Rosenthal’s, this plan, which involves changes on a yearly basis, is actually being considered by baseball officials.

Just how would a floating realignment scheme work?

One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll, could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at postseason play instead of continually fighting against the mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.

For starters, I’m sure only three teams want to break up the AL East. The rest would rather see the Yankees and the Sox in the same division. After all, why would you want one of the two biggest spending teams to separate and possibly move into your division? That could actually make it easier for both the Yankees and the Red Sox to win their divisions, since 1) they’re not fighting for the same division title, and 2) they would no longer play each other 18 times a year. In fact, if one moved to the NL — interleague moves would be permitted under this plan — they wouldn’t play each other except during the interleague period.

At first I thought that the complexity of a floating system was a bug in the system, though after further thought I think it’s a feature. Fans love the off-season. The Yankees won the World Series this year, yet more people visited the site during the Winter Meetings than the World Series. A series of measures to determine yearly realignment could add another level to the off-season. I’m sure we’d all pay close attention as teams vied for optimal places within divisions, thus determining their main competition for the following season.

The flipside is that plenty of teams would try to use the system as a way to punt their rebuilding seasons. In Verducci’s example, the Indians would essentially be running and hiding from the competition, taking their licks from the AL East — or whatever division at the time presents the toughest competition. This not only allows teams to hide away as they rebuild, but it allows better teams to face weaker competition. This is the part of the idea I like least. If floating realignment does become a real possibility, I’d far rather see a system where the best teams get grouped somewhat together, so that they can play each other more often.

While MLB likely won’t implement this plan, it is a much better option than static realignment in order to break up the Yankees and Red Sox. Again, only three teams really care about this issue. The rest probably like having the two in the same division. Static realignment also ignores the possibility — and, in the long term, certainty — that the Sox and Yanks fall from power. The whole thing will be for naught if two teams in another division accumulate the power the Yankees and the Sox currently wield.

Still, floating realignment does have its benefits. I’d like to see a sampling of exactly how teams can change divisions. That will determine its viability. If it allows for strong teams playing strong teams more often, they might be onto something. But if it allows low payroll teams to hide out among the big boys, raking in cash at the gate when those teams come to town, I’m not sure I favor it. Any realignment plan should favor the teams that put out a quality product. To favor the Indians just because they’re rebuilding doesn’t seem like a solid reason to propose a plan like this.

Categories : Musings
  • Rose

    What would this do for MLB video games!!

  • A.D.

    Another solution would be just take the best 4 teams for the playoffs, or go with 2 divisions + 2 wildcards.

  • Thomas

    An interesting question is if you can change from an Eastern Division to Western division and vice versa. For example if the Rays decide they want to join the AL West because they think they could win it, would they be allowed to move. It would really be a hamper on the Western teams having to play 9 games in Tampa Bay meaning each team would need at least 3 East coast trips for just the Rays.

    • Jose

      Travel in this type of restructuring has potential to be absolutely horrible.

      • Chip

        That was exactly what I was thinking. How would Seattle feel if it was forced to play 18 away games a year against the Rays and Braves for instance? Plus, you’d have to once and for all apply the DH rule to the entire league.

        • Matt :: Sec 105

          A provision in Tom Veducii’s article says you can’t move more than 2 time zones.

          Rays couldn’t go west, A’s couldn’t come east, ect.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Each city should be required to build two or three extra state-of-the-art, 50,000+ seat stadiums so that any team that potentially realigns from one division to another would have quality facilities in the metro area of their choice to put up temporary stakes in.

        That way, when the Tampa Bay Rays decide they want to play in the NL West for a season, they can just be the Tampa Bay Rays of San Francisco, playing home games in AT&T Park #3 (since the Milwaukee Brewers of San Fransisco would probably already have claimed AT&T Park #2.)

        • Jose

          It should all be funded with taxpayer dollars as well.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Oh, naturally. Don’t state the obvious, man.

    • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      No, teams wouldn’t be able to switch from East to West, or vice versa. Per the Verducci/SI article:

      “Divisions still would loosely follow geographic lines; no team would join a division more than two time zones outside its own, largely to protect local television rights (i.e., start times of games) and travel costs.”

      • Jose

        Thank you for RTFA. That makes much more sense.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Doesn’t that give a MASSIVE competitive advantage to the teams in the middle of the country, though?

        The Detroit Tigers could choose to feast on a weak AL West, but the Yankees/Red Sox/Rays/Orioles/Jays aren’t allowed to? Seems more unfair than the current setup.

        • Thomas

          That was my first thought after seeing that quote. A central team gets a choice of 3 divisions (or 6 if they are allowed to switch leagues), but other teams are limited.

          • Jose

            The Cleveland Indians are actually farther away from the west coast than the Atlanta Braves. But they would get to pick from 3 divisions due to being a Central team, while the Braves could only pick from 2 due to being an East team?

            • Jose

              It seems like the whole time zone thing would favor teams in Mountain time as well as teams in Central time.

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                yeah but they have to live 28 hours from the ocean, so cut them a break.

            • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I don’t think Cleveland could move to a Western division, though. Cleveland’s in the Eastern Time Zone, so the Pacific Time Zone is more than 2 time zones away from Cleveland. Cincinnati and Detroit would also be unable to move to a Western division.

    • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

      You should have read the entire article:

      Divisions still would loosely follow geographic lines; no team would join a division more than two time zones outside its own, largely to protect local television rights (i.e., start times of games) and travel costs.

  • Thomas A. Anderson

    Here’s the thing I can’t understand. How could MLB realistically prevent, let’s say, the Red Sox from moving to the AL Central? I know there is no way that Boston and New York would want to stay in the same division having to play 18 games a year against each other with 10-12 ungodly 4 hour games.

    I would find it pretty interesting to see the wording on how MLB decides who can move and who can’t. I would think they would get some actual legal pushback from the Red Sox if they weren’t allowed to move.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Also: how do you control the size of the divisions? What if nobody wants to leave the division they’re in?

      Verducci offers the Indians/Rays swap as a potential temporary realignment win/win: The Rays get an easier division and thus, an almost guaranteed playoff berth; the Indians get a better slate of moneymaking games (and don’t care about playoff chances since they’re going to suck anyway).

      Well, what if the Rays don’t want to leave the AL Beast? The improved playoff chances in the AL Central come at the cost of the diminished revenue of the 38 tilts against the Yankees and Sox. And the Orioles and Jays certainly wouldn’t move; they want what the Indians want (the big-money games).

      Also, what happens afterwards? Say the Indians/Rays agree to swap for a year. Do they then have to ask to swap back, or do they have some sort of territorial rights? Maybe the Indians join the lucrative AL East and decide they want to stay. Are the Rays locked into horrid non-geographic rivalries like Detroit and Minnesota until someone else is dumb enough to do what they did and consent to move out of the AL East division?

      What if 10 AL/NL Central teams request to leave their division for the AL East, but only one team consents to leave: who picks which of the 10 teams gets the spot?

      Get the lawyers on the phone.

    • Chris

      The Red Sox and Yankees likely wouldn’t want to move. They make a ton of money by playing each other 18 times a year and maintaining their rivalry.

  • Glen L

    A solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist … this is all just so ridiculous, baseball does not have a problem with competitive imbalance, regardless of the (complete lack of concrete) facts the media spews forth

  • Joe746

    With the Yankees and Red Sox still in the same division and a floating realignment system in place, the Yankees and Red Sox would win as many games as they do right now if not more, because of weaker competition in the division (contending Tampa out, rebuilding Indians in, for example) and both would still qualify for the post season. Winning the Wild Card would be even easier when facing rebuilding teams 18 times a year. Granted, the Rays, O’s and Jays would be able to contend by moving to the Central Division, but that would come at the expense of the Tigers, White Sox and Twins, who contend more or less every year in the Central. Why would the contending Central teams agree to that?

  • J.J.

    they should go back to the old school style of just East and West divisions. I like the current unbalanced schedule as you should play your division more often. i also like getting rid of interleague play, the only matchups anyone cares about are crosstown rivalries and the year before’s WS matchup. For playoff structure, take the two division winners and have 2 wild cards to play the division winners. So the 4 best teams get in and not the best team in each division and the best second place team. This would allow the Ray, Yanks, and Sox to stay in the same division and potentially have 3 of them make the playoffs if they all outperform the west besides the division leader.

  • Januz

    This idea has about the same probability of occurence of me dating Sofia Vergara………. NONE. I cannot imagine that MLB would be stupid enough to allow teams like the Indians to become essentially on the level of the University of Indiana Hoosers…a guaranteed win on the CONFERENCE schedule of Penn State, just so that organization can sell tickets. That is what Indiana did last year, when they moved a 2010, home game to Fed-Ex Field, for MONEY, which will in essence become a HOME GAME for Penn State. This is in what will happen: Getting 18 Home Games against the Yankees and Red Sox, in exchange for sacrificing the opportunity to win. If the Tribe cannot (Or chooses not to) compete, then the ownership should sell the team. I really would hate to see the day when MLB teams become on the level of Iowa State, Washington State, Baylor, Kansas State, Vanderbilt or Indiana football.

  • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

    I far prefer the idea of realigning divisions like this, on a non-permanent basis, to Olney’s theoretical system. However, teams switching leagues is the thing that immediately stands out to me as offputting. The historical purist in me hates the idea of certain teams that have always been in the NL or AL just willy-nilly dropping that identity and league hopping. (/Goose’d?) Interleague play is enough. To have two teams meeting in the World Series when they were in the same division or league one or two years prior would make the contest lesser.

    OTOH, Selig is already plotting how to move the Twins and Tigers and then stick the Brewers in the AL Central. Just in case.

  • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “The flipside is that plenty of teams would try to use the system as a way to punt their rebuilding seasons. In Verducci’s example, the Indians would essentially be running and hiding from the competition, taking their licks from the AL East — or whatever division at the time presents the toughest competition. This not only allows teams to hide away as they rebuild, but it allows better teams to face weaker competition. This is the part of the idea I like least. If floating realignment does become a real possibility, I’d far rather see a system where the best teams get grouped somewhat together, so that they can play each other more often.”

    I agree with Joe, this is the part that bothers me, too. This type of system would be in danger of incentivizing bad or rebuilding teams to opt into divisions knowing such a decision will lead to them losing more games, because they might want to improve their drafting position or bring in more fans (from having a team like the Yanks visiting town more often, for example) while they know they won’t be competitive in the standings, anyway, and it would further be in danger of incentivizing good teams to opt out of divisions with top teams so that they’d have a better chance of making the playoffs… Both of which could lead to less competitive balance, no? You could very well be creating a system in which the top teams will be in divisions with the worst teams, and the middle of the pack will all be grouped together in other divisions, and I don’t think that accomplishes the goal of creating more competitive balance.

    • Jose

      That does scare me a bit with the whole drafting situation. What bad team wouldn’t want to have a great draft position while making a ton of money despite losing.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Tangent, but an important one, I think:

      This yearly/flexible realignment idea reminds me of your advocacy for an EPL-style relegation concept, where the shittiest teams would be sent down to a lower league (presumably to place a greater incentive on winning and not being perpetually shitty).

      Not saying your relegation scheme is right or wrong, but I do find it interesting that we’re slowly starting to see more questions being raised about the long-term financial viability of the relegation system as presently constructed.

      http://posh.footballblog.co.uk.....-debt.html

      Basically, the concept is this (I think):

      Being in the Premier League is worth assloads more money than the being in the leagues beneath it, which seems obvious (TV contract, sponsorship, visibility, etc). Thus, teams in the league need to spend large amounts of money to remain good enough to stay in it, and the teams in the league underneath the EPL need to spend large amounts of money to get good enough to get into the top bracket. This has lead to an explosion of astronomical transfer fees as teams try to buy the best talent possible, an explosion that is quickly becoming unsustainable and putting all the clubs (both in the top Premier level and in the secondary Championship level) into levels of severe debt, bordering on bankruptcy (which has most prominently been floated for Portsmouth and Leeds recently). This bankruptcy/near bankruptcy chain has lead to significant ownership turnover; Portsmouth was sold 4 times just in the past year.

      Teams are basically going into significant, dangerous levels of debt annually by buying players their team financially just can’t afford to either get into the EPL or stay in the EPL, because falling to the lower league, even for a year, can be a near financial death sentence.

      The possible solution: you guessed it, a salary cap.

      ————-

      Just something to ruminate on.

      • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Interesting… I’m not sure it’s really applicable to my MLB relegation idea, because in my system there are only two “leagues” of 15 teams each and the inferior league is still MLB… As I understand it, in English soccer, the inferior leagues are much less relevant/important than the inferior league in my system would be. In the English system you have a number of inferior leagues and a huge number of teams, overall, while in my MLB system you’d only have one inferior league and the same 30 teams you have today. I think those differences are pretty important distinctions because I think the drop-off from the EPL to the inferior leagues is pretty significant, since once a team drops out of the EPL they’re basically falling into a system that contains a ton of teams and multiple leagues with teams literally everywhere. In my system, you’ve still just got MLB and 30 teams, it’s not like dropping to the inferior league takes a team out of the public eye in the same way.

        Definitely a valid concern, though.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          True, but I bet if you started using the AL and NL (or some replication) as a “superior” and “inferior” league, you’d eventually run into the same type of issues. When the next TV contract comes up, the networks will demand to negotiate the top league and bottom league separately. Compensation packages will be affected.

          Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic/alarmist, but I bet the dropoff in prestige/exposure/coverage/etc. from the “top 15″ league to the “bottom 15″ league would manifest itself in financial ways in pretty short order.

          • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            I’m sure that system would create some new/unique financial incentives, for sure. The question is, in a vacuum, are the incentives created by my system better or worse than those created in other systems? I’ve always stipulated that my system is a fantasy since MLB would never do something so radical, so this has always been a purely theoretical exercise… So yeah, I’m sure there would be some negative financial incentives created, but I think is the question is whether those incentives would be, on the whole and taken in combination with the other interests/goals that are met by my system and other systems, better or worse than in the current system or other proposed systems, and I think the answer is that they’d be better.

            • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              (I realize I’m just kinda making a general statement here without getting into the details, I just figure people are kinda over that whole conversation and I’ve kinda stated my case on the matter before a few times. I love that conversation though and would be glad to take it up again.)

      • Januz

        There is no way the Players Association would agree to shifting teams (And players) to “Lower Divisions”, so the “Lower Division” idea is essentially moot. But pretending it happens, you would see a “Pandora’s Box” of issues. One obvious change would be the draft…….. It would be eliminated, because draft’s are COLLECTIVELY BARGAINED. For obvious reasons, MOST players, if they had their choice, would prefer an elite ream instead of a “Lower Division” one. For example: Strasberg would go to a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers, instead of the Nats.

        • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “There is no way the Players Association would agree to shifting teams (And players) to ‘Lower Divisions’, so the ‘Lower Division’ idea is essentially moot.”

          I’ve always acknowledged that the idea would never actually happen. Like I said above in this very conversation and have always maintained, this is an admittedly theoretical exercise.

          “But pretending it happens, you would see a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of issues. One obvious change would be the draft…….. It would be eliminated, because draft’s are COLLECTIVELY BARGAINED. For obvious reasons, MOST players, if they had their choice, would prefer an elite ream instead of a “Lower Division” one. For example: Strasberg would go to a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers, instead of the Nats.”

          Why would the draft be eliminated? You’d still have MLB, with two “leagues” under its aegis, so it’s really no different, regarding the draft, as it is today. I also think you’re operating on a mistaken premise… The MLB amateur draft is collectively bargained by the teams and the MLBPA, not the draftable amateur players (who have no say in the matter). Strasburg would have no say in which team he went to, he’d be in the same position he’s in today.

          • Januz

            The reason why the draft would be eliminated, is that the Players Association would NOT agree to the idea of a draft. A Draft UNLESS Collectively Bargained, is LEGALLY considered a “Restraint Of Trade”.
            The direction that you would see with MLB, would be the direction that College Football is now heading: Where you will have A FEW ELITE CONFERENCES, that have most of the money, and the rest of the teams are left with crumbs. For example: The “Big 10 Network” is so profitable that Northwestern is making more money on TV than Notre Dame (Guess why ND is thinking about joinging a Conference? (Likely the Big 10)). It is not even out of the question, that Conferences like the Big Ten and SEC could go to 14 teams, and actually throw out weak sisters like Vanderbilt, in order to add elite teams like Oklahoma.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              I started to try and figure out what the hell you were saying, but my brain began melting, so I stopped.

              • Januz

                Go to today’s NY Times Sports and read about Notre Dame considering joining a conference and you will. Also do a Google search of Rutgers and Big 10 Expansion. And you will read about how the Big 10 may take Rutgers to expand their reach into the NY maeket. ps. It is about their BIG 10 network.

              • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Ha, totally. I’m going to give this a shot though… I’m not touching the college football stuff, I don’t understand the relevance and I’m not interested in any further explanation. But as far as the draft goes…

                Dude, this entire conversation is built on the stipulation and premise that we’re suspending reality and just talking about how to build the best system, not a system that might actually, like, happen. I don’t know how many more times I can make that clear. The teams and the union would probably never approve my overall plan, but I’m assuming they would just for the sake of the conversation. So… Do the same regarding the draft. Assume that when they negotiate this new system and sign their new CBA, they also agree to keep the draft.

                Just stop using the ‘they wouldn’t agree to this’ argument. It’s totally irrelevant and pointless in this conversation.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          I love the way your mind works, Januz.

      • Joe746

        tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size, you are definitely on to something, but I have to say questions are not being raised about the long-term financial viability of the relegation system among the fans and observers of European football, but about the way English football is currently run. The relegation system works just fine almost all over the world. The problem is that many countries and many clubs have not kept an eye on money; they just added debt because the government of the countries and the football government bodies did not do anything about it for decades. Most major clubs in England, Spain and Italy are heavily in debt. Interestingly, most clubs in Germany, which used to be a major power in European club football, refrained from making huge amounts of debt, instead working within financial means (most debt from German clubs is related to building new stadiums), were not able to keep up with other European power houses over the last decade, but now that the financial situation is about the to hit a wall, German clubs all of a sudden are in a very good spot because there is very little debt compared to other European clubs and a lot of stability. Power houses like Madrid, Barcelona, both clubs in Milano and Torino always paid a lot of money, but only Manchester used to be a financial power house in England. But a few years ago, due to great marketing and private financial backing, tons of English clubs became big spenders, paying absurd sums of money for transfer fees and salaries. Fans in other countries said English clubs were ruining the market and driving up the prices for every one else because of their heavy spending, which indeed was the case. A lot of quality players these days prefer to sign with a mid-level English club instead of an ambitious club in another European country that has a real chance to win something (nationally and internationally) because their salary is a lot higher in England, even on a mid-level club.

        A lot of the current problems in the England, that are just surfacing now after years of prosperity are rooted in a system that is only used in England and few other (Eastern European) countries: Selling teams to private investors. Teams can be bought by individual people like in the US which allows those people to invest private money in the clubs. But the clubs then do not spend the money the make themselves, they spend money which is given to them from the owner’ s personal wealth. Clubs in other European countries are run differently. They are not owned by a single person or a group of people. They are run likes businesses where the people in power have to get voted in (like a director’s board) and they work with the money the club generates. The salaries and transfer fees in England did not become so high because teams wanted to move to the highest division, it is because millionaires/billionaires bought the clubs and (especially) those clubs that were already at the top wanted to get even bigger (especially in European competition). The teams responsible for exploding prices are the big power clubs, not those in the lower ranks, namely Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and to a certain extend, Arsenal – the so-called big four that rule the EPL. Other investors saw the chance to make money with English football clubs (and owning a Premier League clubs became on in-thing) so they wanted in and bought smaller clubs that did not have a private owner yet. Of course they spend money as well, because a successful club generates more money than a mid-level club and they wanted to become a successful club. But only a handful of teams can be successful each year so lots of investors didn’t get their monies worth and lost interest and wanted the money back that they put into the club, which greatly hurt the clubs and put them in danger of bankruptcy after being in business for more than a hundred years before they sold themselves to the investor.

        Mid-level and lower level clubs in most highest leagues in Europe have very little money and those in lower leagues have even less and are unable to spend lots of money because they do not generate a lot. In most cases only those who have private financial backing are able to spend big. Small clubs have always had trouble coming up with money and facing the danger of going bankrupt even before salaries and transfer fees spiraled out of control. Small clubs have to fight for their survival all the time, have in the past and will in the future. Just like every small business. McDonalds and Burger King will always swim in money while a small, local burger store always has to fight for every cent.

        • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Just wanted to say thanks for speaking up. I don’t think too many of us are as familiar with European soccer as you are, it’s cool to get that perspective on things.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Seconded. Thanks again for the awesome insight, much appreciated.

            My post wasn’t attempting to say “Relegation systems can’t work”, just saying that relegation systems without some carefully crafted guidelines to avoid erratic/unsafe behavior by member clubs can create big problems.

    • Virginia Yank

      Just what I was thinking. The teams that aren’t competitive, but too good to be the worst could opt to face tougher competition to accelerate their rebuilding.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    Baseball has a chance for a tremendous period of growth because it is blessed with a class of very young, talented players who have the potential to be great, not just good, and to represent the game well. The gold mine includes Heyward, 20; Madison Bumgarner, 20; Justin Upton, 21; Clayton Kershaw, 21; Rick Porcello, 21; Stephen Strasburg, 22; and Aroldis Chapman, 22 — and that’s not forgetting Felix Hernandez, 23; Tommy Hanson, 23; Matt Wieters, 23; Evan Longoria, 24; Troy Tulowitzki, 25; Prince Fielder, 25; Tim Lincecum, 25; and Joe Mauer, 26.

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....z0hmwmmvC7
    Get a free NFL Team Jacket and Tee with SI Subscription

    Well said, Tom. Well said.

    *cough*jobachamberlainphilhughesrobinsoncanojesusmontero*cough*

    • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

      Sorry, they were automatically disqualified under Tom’s “represent the game well” clause.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    A few things:

    *Get rid of DH rule in NL. Pitching in AL is better. So is hitting. Enough; kill the sacred cow.

    *Two divisions. Top five teams by W/L record in each division are in the playoffs by seeding. The sixth team is voted in by America on Thursday nights after Idol, regardless of merit. The top-two fan-garnering teams play a 3-game playoff. After which, they’d be paired up against the 1 seed anyway, so whatevs. It would drive up interest (and is also a terrible idea) and give the #1 seed a nice benefit.

    *All-star game does not determine anything of value

    *Games are not played overseas

    *Players can trade draft picks, IFA signings

    *MLB can declare eminent domain over owners deliberately keeping salaries down and showing a lack of good faith in building a championship club. Hard to determine, but the Nuttings are a good example. There must be some metric they could use.

    *Minors games are televised on MLB.com

    *Pink hats are outlawed

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Quickly:

      1.) No. NL baseball sucks. Nobody wants to pay money to watch Woody Williams and Joel Pinero try and fail to hit the ball.
      2.) I know you’re only semi-serious, but no to the eliminating the third division and going back to the two-division East/West format. I see people advocate for this all the time, and it doesn’t make sense. It’s nostalgia without logic. Larger divisions don’t accomplish anything, fix anything, or improve anything. Bad idea.
      3.) Sure, sign me up.
      4.) Meh, I don’t care. Not an issue. Growing the game internationally is not a problem, and it’s easier to do in baseball where you literally have so many regular season games, you can afford to throw some away in Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, etc.
      5.) Possible… needs to be explored in greater detail. May help, may hurt.
      6.) Sure, but that’s not really the problem. The only teams that really do that are the Marlins and Rays, but they both had good faith reasons for doing so and remained competitive while doing so. The bigger issue is the small-market/poor teams who DO spend money, but spend it stupidly.
      7.) I’m down.
      8.) But then we’d have one less thing to make fun of Bostoners about!

      • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        2 is an important point. I’m definitely in the ‘nostalgic for the two-division set-up’ crowd, I even think a system in which there’s only a World Series and no other playoff series is really cool… That time has passed, though. It’s thoroughly unworkable in the current game and the current climate, and wouldn’t accomplish the goals of MLB or serve the interests of the teams, the players, or modern fans.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        Just so you know, point one was meant to imply get rid of the lack of DH in the NL. So…both leagues would have the DH.

        Regarding point 6, I was thinking more along the lines of teams that show a certain percentage of losses within a set time frame. It’s still trouble, but there are way too many teams that are just never ever in it. That needs to change somehow. The idea I threw out doesn’t work, but multiple decades of not having a single winning record can’t fly. It just can’t.

        Some markets just don’t fit. I’d also argue for contraction. I think it’s best to say goodbye to Oakland, Toronto, Tampa, Florida, Kansas City. Get rid of markets that can’t support themselves.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Just so you know, point one was meant to imply get rid of the lack of DH in the NL. So…both leagues would have the DH.

          Oh, okay. I must have read that wrong or something, my bad.

          Some markets just don’t fit. I’d also argue for contraction. I think it’s best to say goodbye to Oakland, Toronto, Tampa, Florida, Kansas City. Get rid of markets that can’t support themselves.

          Tampa is currently doing quite well, now that they finally have a solid team. The Marlins may do much better once they get their downtown, baseball-only stadium built (playing in JoeRobbieLandSharkProPlayerSunLifeFinancialStadiumParkFieldPlaza sucks balls, I can understand why fans stayed away).

          The others (KC, Toronto, Oakland) were all smashingly successful not too long ago and amongst the league leaders in attendance, revenues, and gross profits. They don’t need to be contracted; there’s nothing wrong with their markets. They just need some good breaks and good decisionmaking, and they’ll be right back in the black in no time.

          • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            I couldn’t agree more.

            I had a long, awful conversation with someone about this a while back, I’m not going to bother finding the link. Contracting a team, first of all, is a bad thing and a huge deal to the city in question, and should be taken MUCH more seriously than some people seem to take it. People toss around contraction like it’s a simple fix, but it really should be an absolute last resort. All of those markets are able to support MLB teams, we shouldn’t react to short-term trends and go to the absolute most awful and destructive option we have at our disposal.

            Keep in mind that it wasn’t long ago we were talking about contracting the Twins, and they seem to be doing pretty well. Keep things in perspective and think long-term.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

            Tampa is not doing well. They’ve been 30th, 30th, 27th, 26th in attendance over the last four years. Even when they went to the WS two years ago they mightily struggled. Yes, a new park would do wonders, but how much of a market is really there. I know the Trop sucks, but if your team is going to the WS, you’d think more than 20,000 people would go. Ditto for the Marlins. Florida always struck me as a place solely interested in football. Even the Heat and Magic are very middling in attendance despite having some of the most exciting players in the league. It’s strange.

            Oakland is doomed as the Giants are a more prominent, successful team in a far better location and can to some degree dictate where Oakland plays. They’re almost in a catch. They haven’t drawn 30,000 to their ballpark since 1992. Sorry, but that’s almost two decades ago.

            Toronto will not publicly finance a new ballpark for the Jays, which they desperately need. I’d be shocked if Rodgers financed a new stadium in a city that hasn’t been very interested in baseball since the mid-90s. Realistically, they have a tough draw in that division. Players are subject to fairly high taxes there, too, which limits the draw further.

            Kansas City just may not be too bad. Still, it’s a fairly small market. They haven’t drawn more than 26,000 to their ballpark since 1990. They’ve mostly been in the 16-24k range since then.

            You can say they just need successful, well-composed teams. I’m not sure it’s that simple.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

              You know what? I’ve read some of the posts here and did a little more thinking on the economic impact of not just MLB, but the cities, as well. Contracting is a poor idea. I shouldn’t have haphazardly thrown it out there as such a catch-all.

              I’m still not entirely convinced all present markets can support teams, but I’m at least wrong in the scope of what I was saying.

              Agreed—absolute last resort. I don’t see anything of now as being that dire.

            • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              A couple of nitpicks and random points…

              The A’s drew over 30,000 when they were in the playoffs. You mean they haven’t averaged 30,000+ over the course of a full season since 1992, that’s an important distinction. Also, note that they have been to the playoffs a few times in that time-span, so it’s not like they haven’t been able to put a competitive product on the field.

              The Reds have averaged 30,000+ once since 1994, back in 2000. Should they be contracted, too?

              Every season from 1995 through 2005, the Chicago White Sox averaged fewer than 30,000 fans per game.

              Prior to 1991, the Chicago White Sox NEVER averaged 30,000+ per game. That’s 90 years of average figures below the magic 30,000 mark.

              Why is attendance the be-all-end-all of this discussion, anyway? The Jays had the 16th highest payroll in 2009. That doesn’t sound like a team that can’t spend money or compete, to me.

              TB has had attendance issues, but has seen its average gate rise each of the last 4 seasons. There is certainly reason to believe a competitive team, in a nice new stadium, in that environment, could/would draw enough fans to the gate to be a viable MLB market and team. Remember, we’re not talking about these teams/cities competing financially with a market like NY or LA, we’re just talking about a minimum baseline for being viable MLB markets here.

              • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                PS: I just picked a couple of random attendance examples, but you could play that game with a number of teams. That 30,000 number is arbitrary and not as meaningful as it may seem.

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  PPS: JMK I just saw your last comment, above, my bad… Clearly I didn’t see it before I posted these last couple of comments. Glad to see you re-thought your position.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

                  No worries. Your points are spot-on. I’m happy to admit when there are holes in my initial positions and revise from a point of better understanding.

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Cool, thanks. I have to be more careful about refreshing before commenting.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  (cracks open three Pinstripe Scrimmage Scotch Ales™ and hands one to Mondesi and one to JMK)

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  :: Pours beer over this and gets started on lunch appetizer ::

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  A double-triple baconator, Mondesi?

                  What, are you on a diet or something?

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Spring Training. Gotta get into game-shape.

  • MattG

    I was toying around with an idea where the alignments stay the same, but the league goes with a variable schedule based on payroll. Essentially, teams would play more games against other teams with similar payrolls, and would also might get a few more home dates (or premium home dates like holidays) for spending more money on salaries. The idea is to reward teams that spend more on salaries with better gate attractions, while also giving teams with lower salaries a more favorable schedule. This plan should also create incentives for teams to increase their pay structures, so that they can get good gate attractions at their own stadium.

    The NFL does this, although tied to last year’s record, not salaries, and there is little outrage. I think it deserves some consideration.

  • ADam

    Fix the Divisional Problem:
    Go back to the two division System. AL East/West and NL East/West. Contracting two teams… I pick the Pirates (A franchise that refuses to compete and has not for almost two decades) And Sadly the Padres (Financial Ruins due a spouse that wanted “HALF” to quote Eddie Murphy)

    Go back to 28 Teams – fix the competitive balance issue by having a draft of the players who belong to those franchises.. Worst Teams get to cherry pick the Padres and Pirates best talent.

    Then you can have two division winners, and two wild card teams in each league.. this way the true 8 best teams make the post season every year. You eliminate the 83 win teams from making the playoffs.

    Again, Vote ADam for next MLB Commish… Thanks

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Again, Vote ADam for next MLB Commish… Thanks

      (thinks)

      No. Your ideas are, IMO, needlessly reactionary and don’t really solve any problems. I’ll pass.

    • Chris

      Why bother with contraction? I agree with the two division idea, but I don’t see any benefit to contraction.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        I don’t see any benefit to EITHER idea.

        • ADam

          Better to keep teams in MLB that don’t compete.. your right… and lets make sure that the best teams don’t get into the playoffs…

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Getting teams that don’t compete to start competing by tinkering with parity-inducing structures like the draft, free agency, luxury tax, revenue sharing, and salary caps/floors >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ruthlessly killing teams and dealing with the sweeping ramifications, such as massive fan abandonment/discontent, tarnished league image, and union grievances over the elimination of 80 big league jobs and hundreds of organizational roster spots

            Also, in general (but certainly open to more debate):

            More playoff teams >>> Less playoff teams

            We’re trying to improve the reach game and increase fan involvement and interest. Contracting teams, shrinking the playoffs, and diluting regional rivalries by consolidating divisions are all steps in the wrong direction.

            Seriously, I know you mean well, but your ideas of what you would do as commissioner of baseball are all unqualified failures and nonstarters. They may make you feel better by reminding you of the days of yore, but they don’t help baseball, they hurt baseball.

  • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

    “The committee already has made good on Selig’s promise by discussing a radical form of “floating” realignment in which teams would not be fixed to a division, but free to change divisions from year-to-year based on geography, payroll and their plans to contend or not.”

    Sorry Indian fans I know we’re gonna suck so were totally gonna mail it in this year.

    I can see that being great for attendance/morale.

  • Gor

    So what, the Yankees win a World Series and everyone freaks out and suggests ridiculous nonsense to try and “fix” baseball?

    • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Exactly.

  • Am I the only Kevin?

    Why have divisions at all? Didn’t we have a completely balanced schedule in each league prior to going to the three division lineup?

    Go to a balanced schedule (scrap interleague, if necessary) and then send the top four records in each league to the playoffs. For the inevitable multiple ties that occur in the seeding, use head to head record as tiebreakers, then maybe run differential.

  • lordbyron

    Enough of these ridiculous proposals – keep the 2 leagues and just eliminate all divisions and have the 4 teams with the best win-loss records qualify for the playoffs. It’s simple and the best teams qualify – as they should. This infatuation with parity is for the birds. Why should a team with the 5th, 6th or 7th best record in a league qualify for the playoffs by being in a weak division?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Enough of these ridiculous proposals

      Agreed.

      keep the 2 leagues and just eliminate all divisions

      That’s a ridiculous proposal.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    all of this is batshit insane. here:

    The Red Sox and Yankees make the playoffs. Always. And we get first round byes.

    DH’s for everyone. Screw you purists, chicks dig the long ball.

    Obama FORCES Knology to offer YES to all their subscribers. I’ll pay whatever you want, just get me the )#(*$_#@ YES channel already.

    wait, what were we talking about?

    /goesbacktotakemeds’d

  • Michael Kay

    I had no idea Verducci & Selig were Rube Goldberg fans.

  • WizardLizard

    No on any re-alignment.

    Why not just have two Wild Card teams? They could play each other in a best of three series before the real playoffs begin. Seems simple to my awesome brain.

    • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      So I was like “yeah, sure,” then I thought “but then you have the other teams sitting around waiting for this one WC series, which kinda sucks,” then I thought “how can we make this work and also not have to have the other teams sitting on their thumbs for too long while the only thing going on are these WC series, and also maybe put the WC winner at something of a disadvantage going into the divisional series?”

      And I came up with… Best of three WC series, with the first 2 games of the series being played as a double-header and the third game played, if necessary, the following day.

      We’re outside the box here, people.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        And I came up with… Best of three WC series, with the first 2 games of the series being played as a double-header and the third game played, if necessary, the following day.

        We’re outside the box here, people.

        I. LOVE. THIS. IDEA.

        • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          One scheduled off-day after the possible Game 3. If you sweep the double-header, you get two days off and your opponent gets three. If you go to a third game, you only get one day off. Either way, you have to burn some arms in the double-header, so you’re at a bit of a disadvantage as the WC team going into the Divisional Series, and you’re not giving so much rest to the division winners that they will get cold or be sitting around for a week or anything like that.

          It’s not so crazy, right? I think most baseball fans would be pretty psyched about having a day or two of double-headers featuring teams fighting for their lives to start out the postseason.

          I guess the issue is… The teams would have to travel, after a double-header, in order to play Game 3 in the second city the following day. As far as the home-field advantage issue, I think you just give the team with the better record the choice of whether to take home game(s) in either (a) Games 1 and 2 or (b) Game 3. Pretty interesting decision for people to discuss and dissect in the days leading up to the postseason and later during the offseason.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Screw that.

            No travel day, no extra off day. The higher WC team gets all three games at their home stadium. If you don’t clinch on Day 1, you play the tiebreaker on Day 2 and then turn right the hell around and play Game 1 of the ALDS on the road.

            People want the WC to be a penalty? BOOM, it’s a penalty.

            • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I’m one of those people that want the WC team to be at more of a disadvantage, but not giving them even one off-day after Game 3 just seems unfair to me. Let them play the double-header and the likely Game 3, then get one day off. They’re still at more of a disadvantage, after burning the arms in the double-header and travelling so much, than they are under the current system.

              Either way, though… I think the RABbis have to use their clout and get this idea to some people in power. I’d be psyched to watch these doubleheaders.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                The main problem with this, as always, is the TV ramifications.

                There’s going to be a playoff-opening doubleheader in each league pitting the two Wildcard teams against each other? When are we showing this on the boob tube and profiting off the ad revenue? The season currently ends on Sunday. When will the games be, Monday? If they’re doubleheaders, that means the first game is played on an October Monday afternoon when everyone is at work. So, scratch that.

                Do we end the season on Saturday? Even if we do, do both of these Wildcard Doubleheaders play at the same time, opposite each other, on competing networks? MLB HATES putting playoff games on at the same time competing against each other. Are we now ending the season on Friday and playing one doubleheader on Saturday and one on Sunday?

                Stupid TV bullshit…

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  I hadn’t thought it through to that extent…

                  I suppose if the season were to end on a Thursday or Friday, you could have one double-header on Saturday and one on Sunday. Honestly, IMO, even if one or both of the doubleheaders are during the week, I think it’s a win for MLB. So one or two games are during the day when people are at work… And then when people get home from work, they’ve got a couple of elimination games to watch. I think there would be day-long excitement and buzz about these games, so even if people were at work and couldn’t catch the early game(s) I think you’d have an increased audience for the late game(s). MLB would OWN these days in the sports media… Which is great for MLB not only because they’ll make money from these games, but it’s also a hell of a way to provide a lead-in to the rest of the playoffs and capture the country’s attention. ‘Shablam! Here’s some elimination games with some scrappy wild-card contenders playing for their lives! Enjoy… And then come back tomorrow to see the survivor take on the big bad division winner in the Divisional Series!’ This stuff adds juice to the beginning of the playoffs, there’s built-in extra immediate interest in these WC games that will bleed over into the DS.

                  And hey… With the current system, they get zero revenue from this idea. This is a total value-add for MLB and for the networks, it’s not like you’re taking a product that was on at night and moving it to the day so as to take away revenue from someone. This is all free money that didn’t exist prior to the creation of this system.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  Good point.

                  The NCAA March Madness thing certainly broadcasts games all day long competing against each other, and it hasn’t killed their tournament; in fact, it’s part of why people like watching it.

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Exactly. Create something unique (but not gimmicky), and people will get excited about it.

  • Bo

    I’m sure the tv networks would love it if the Yankees didnt play Boston 19 times a year.

    Want more competitive balance? Find better front offices.

    You think the Pirates stink because of payroll?

    • Stryker

      yes. huntington is a assembling a crop of solid young guys who they’ve been able to sign because of extra money. they also couldn’t keep a lot of their guys because they got expensive (wilson, sanchez, snell).

      kansas city would have represented your point far better.

  • Joseph M

    The problem is simple to identify and almost impossible to solve. It’s a war with the union, a political mine field, it boils down to one word, contraction. There are too many teams, teams that had market relevancy at one time but not any longer. Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati can’t support a fulltime major league team. Tampa Bay can’t support a team, Milwaukee can’t. These cities are not major league cities in 2010. Cincinnati had approximately 325,00 in 1900 today the city has 333,000, Staten Island has more residents.

    Pittsburgh isn’t very good now but back in the 70’s they won two World Series and 4 other division titles. They contended in the years they didn’t win. Take a look at their attendance figures compared to the other teams in the National League at the time. The highest attendance year they finished fourth, most of the time they finished in the middle of the pack. In 1978 after a decade of winning they finished 11th out of 12 teams. Between 1989 and 1991, the Pirates won three straight division titles, during the same three year period attendance dropped by 400,000.

    Baseball needs to build up it’s international product with an eye toward starting an international division within the next 15 years. Maybe some of the smaller market teams can be consolidated into one or two at large teams that would represent several cities and spend a portion of the season stationed in each market.

    Pittsburgh can’t support 81 dates, but how about 25. Satellite TV allows Kansas City, Tampa Bay or Milwaukee to be moments away. Moving teams from division to division won’t help, what will help is acknowledging the truth of the title of the old Bob Dylan song, “Things Have Changed”.