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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Will Baseball Re-Align?

Bud Selig wants the Lords to consider it, although he's not clear as to what he wants. That's either because he doesn't know or he isn't saying. From the linked article, it's not clear that he knows what he wants.

So, how about this proposal -- have two divisions, the top 16 and the bottom 14. The top 16 represent the 16 best teams from the prior year, and the bottom 14 represent the 14 worst. For the post-season, six of the top 16 will make it, and two of the top 14. Then, you'll take those 2 of the bottom 14 and move them to the top 16, and you'll take the bottom two of the top 16 and relegate them. You also could add drama by having a playoff series between the #3 team of the bottom 14 and the third-to-last team of the top 16, with the winner getting elevated and the loser getting relegated.

Would that work?

What would the top 16 look like? How would you create their divisions? For example, it wouldn't seem right to have 4 four-team divisions separated by geography, resulting in having the Yankees, Phillies, Mets and Red Sox in the same division. Would it make sense to have divisions at all, or just to put the top 6 finishers into the post-season?

Who would be in the top 16?

Based on last season's results, the top 16 would be

1. New York Yankees (103-59)
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (97-65)
3. Boston Red Sox (95-67)
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (95-67)
5. Philadelphia Phillies (93-69)
6. Colorado Rockies (92-70)
7. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)
8. San Francisco Giants (88-74)
9. Florida Marlins (87-75)
9. Texas Rangers (87-75)
11. Minnesota Twins (87-76)
12. Atlanta Braves (86-76)
13. Detroit Tigers (86-77)
14. Seattle Mariners (85-77)
15. Tampa Bay Rays (84-78)
16. Chicago Cubs (83-78)

17. Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)
18. Chicago White Sox (79-83)
19. Cincinnati Reds (78-84)
20. Oakland A's (75-87)
20. San Diego Padres (75-87)
20. Toronto Blue Jays (75-87)
23. Houston Astros (74-88)
24. Arizona Diamondbacks (70-92)
24. New York Mets (70-92)
26. Cleveland Indians (65-97)
26. Kansas City Royals (65-97)
28. Baltimore Orioles (64-98)
29. Pittsburgh Pirates (63-99)
30. Washington Nationals (59-103).

Let's further suppose that we played out last season with two divisions, with the result that the top 6 from Division I made the playoffs -- Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies and Rockies and the top 2 from Division II (who, presumably, playing each other, would have had much better records). You'd relegate Tampa and Chicago (who, presumably, playing only Division I teams, would have had worse records) and elevate Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox.

Would it work? I'm not sure. First, you'd eliminate traditional rivalries or at least wound them depending on how some traditional rivals fare (I still think that the Pirates are reeling because they're not in the same division as the Phillies). Second, relegation would have devastating effects on ticket sales and TV revenue (just ask the English Premiership). Suppose the Yankees were to suffer catastrophic injuries to their pitching staff and finish in the bottom 2 in Division I? That would hurt all of baseball, to see them relegated to the second division (in England, grave wounds would occur would Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea suffer relegation, even if self-inflicted). Of course, teams that aren't willing to spend enough money might deserve to be in the second division, but they'd have a better chance for the post-season by playing against more level competition. Then again, you'd punish the first division teams by not lettting them play at least a few cupcakes. Then again, the competition in the first division would be much more compelling. There's little joy in seeing your team play the Nationals 19 times a season.

As you can see, there are plenty of pluses and minuses. Let the thoughts roll, and let the debate begin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought this would be a more compelling strategy for the NHL, especially if you include the minors so the Canadian teams from cities like Hamilton and Winnipeg.

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