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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Leagues, Divisions, Schedules, Teams, Interleague...etc

I've read a blog or two in recent weeks, and this morning a discussion sparked up on twitter that I am particularly fond of discussing.  Not because I think I have all the right answers, or even have a couple of the right answers--I think the topic is an awful lot of fun to discuss.  So, I'm hopeful that we can engage in a fuller, more-than-140-at-a-time, fun, educated, informed (...etc) discussion about...

My friend Tom at @CardinalsGM tweeted the following, which summarizes greatly what I'm hopeful we can discuss here via comments, "Both leagues and divisions should have equal number of teams. This is a no-brainer, and foundational to fairness." & also said he'd "cut 2 teams, return to 2 division in each league, & free a team to relocate to NYC". 

I came across a blog over at redbirdrants.com (if you're not familiar, you should definitely check it out!) that had this particular thread going.

So, leave your comments below.  Link to other articles on this topic, or just let your opinions fly...this should be a really good time!  I'll start by addressing this morning's tweets, and the redbirdrants blog fits in nicely along the way.

My comments this morning on twitter were pretty much along the lines of:

You'd have to add 2 teams in the AL for it to happen, as taking 2 from the NL would never fly with MLB owners.  Another tough sell would be eliminating a playoff round (as @CardsChic mentions), MLB is currently talking about adding a round (ka-ching), so it seems the ship has already sailed...in the opposite direction.  While certainly not perfect, there are plenty of things to be said about unbalanced leagues & divisions.

What say you?


  1. So we want to put a third team in NYC despite one of them going bankrupt as we speak due to corrupt owners? Here's my take (most of which is just repetition of others):

    - Add two teams to the AL
    - Keep Divisional play
    - Keep Interleague play
    (hate me yet, oh yeah you do)
    - Keep the Wildcard and expand the playoffs to include one more team in each league
    (now you hate me, don't you)
    - Get past the whole "OMG, Players bet on baseball in the early 1900's" and put a team in Las Vegas where it will thrive.
    - MLB needs to take control of the Dodgers/Mets and put owners in place that will rejuvenate two historic franchises.
    - The nostalgia of returning a team to Montreal intrigues me, though I'm not sold on the idea.
    - Don't give me a "balanced schedule". If I play in a division, I should compete in that division more than outside of it.
    - I think a team in Oklahoma City or Little Rock would be mildly successful. Build a smaller capacity stadium (35,000) and see what they can do.

    This one is a bit off subject and deserves it's own thread, but....

    - FIX THE MINOR LEAGUES. Players at that level struggle to say the least. While salaries, insurance, and benefits consistently getting better at the MLB level, the minors are still paid and compensated very closely to what they have been for decades.

  2. I may have misunderstood. But I thought the comments from @CardinalsGM were to remove a team (HAS to be the Mets, doesn't it?) from NYC, possibly as one of the two NL teams that get cut, and then with the teams that are left, maybe put one back into NYC--can you clarify, @CardinalsGM?

    I don't differ that much from you in a lot of ways, Bill.

    I'm for keeping divisional play, and maintaining a 30-team game. That pretty much requires a 14/16 split for a couple very important reasons: You'd either have two teams that were "off" at least 4 days a week (everyone else is playing a 3-game series somewhere), wreaking havoc on any kind of 162-game schedule...OR you'd have at least one interleague series being played at any given time during the season.

    I'm ok with keeping a wildcard, but don't fully support wildcard expansion, as is being discussed right now. I'll gloss over the 'hate you' comments, as I think anyone who knows us know that I can't stand you, you wretched soul.

    Vegas probably wouldn't be a bad place for a team , and one could make an argument that Omaha wouldn't make a bad place to at least consider. (Though, I'm sure folks in cities like Portland, Charlotte...etc would beg to differ)

    If I remember right, MLB took control of the Expos before they moved them to Washington. Even Jonah Keri would agree, baseball could never return to Montreal--I actually just listened to a podcast where he was a guest, and addressed that specific issue.

    I think MLB is in a very fortunate situation right now. Unlike the other "big 3" (NBA, NFL, & NHL) the changes being discussed are to enhance a healthy game, not to "fix" existing problems, as the other 3 are facing. That's a point that's worth noticing.

  3. I'm for the following:

    1. Free up teams to relocate, especially to have a third team in the NYC market.
    2. Reduce the number of teams by two
    3. Have equal number of teams in AL and NL
    4. Have two seven-team divisions in each league
    5. Reduce one playoff round, leaving the LCS and WS.

  4. A few replies to Bill:

    1. Keeping the wild card and having division-weighted schedule is incongruous, since weak-division teams have an advantage.
    2. The Mets situation is irrelevant to the market capacity.
    3. The cities you mention are less viable for a MLB team than NYC.

  5. 1. You don't have to add two teams to the AL. I would move Houston to the NL West and I think I would lean towards Colorado making the swap (Arizona could do it too). This would give all three divisions 5 teams.

    2. I would limit interleague play to two series' a year. Teams with regional rivalries play in those, teams without go against the closest opposite league team.

    3. All three playoff series' would be 7 games, none of this best of 5 divisional series. I would also order the playoffs so that Game 3, 4, and 5 of the World Series are played Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Odds are your series is going to wrap up one of those days, why not put it in a weekend primetime slot?

    4. I don't see why you'd want to put a third team in NYC. Firstly, I don't ever see the Mets or the Yankees approving such a move. With the way franchises are handed out and handled, it won't happen. Had it been another owner trying to move Montreal, I don't think it would have ended up in Washington. Since the MLB owned the team, they basically forced it in there against Baltimore's wishes.

    5. Remove two-game series'. I hate them. Then you play 18 games against each divisional opponent, 8 games against each other league opponent, and then 8 games against your interleague opponent. That puts you at 162 games.

    I am a firm supporter of the division weighted scheduled. Otherwise there is no point to have them and you might as well take the top-4 teams in the league with no regard to breakdown. What you would run into if you didn't have a division weighted schedule is an even schedule where a team who finishes second in their division has a better record than someone who finishes first in their division who has a worse record. How do you explain allowing that without a weighted schedule? If teams have an equal schedule, you have to take the top-4 in the league to the playoffs and I don't like that system at all. Very little to talk about at the end of a season.

    And just a note, if you want to expand teams, one of the best locations in my opinion would be Greensboro, N.C. Why? Not just because it would give me a local major league team. You have Raleigh and Charlotte just an hour away. So basically have, within an hour's drive, about 2.5 million people, which makes it a fairly large reach area compared to some other teams. You don't get that in Omaha, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Vegas, or any other oftenly spoken of destination. Greensboro and San Antonio are your two best options for expansion teams.

  6. I read a proposal in the NY Post once:

    > Since no one in Oakland gives a crap about the A's and they want to move anyways, nix em and have their owner take over the Dodgers and get McCourt out of the game.

    > And, since no one gives a crap about the Rays in Tampa, nix them and have their owner take over the Mets and get Wilpon out of the game.

    It's too late since the Mets already got bought, but hey...

  7. Good thoughts, here are a few of mine:

    A 3rd team in NYC would be difficult to accomplish, if for no other reason than it's all about TV markets. If there were AL, NL & some other (third type of) league it might be more feasible. I think it's a risk that MLB is probably quite simply not willing to take--detracting from the viewership, revenue the Yankees currently enjoy. Speaking of revenue, IMO, there's just too much of it lost by eliminating the division series.

    I agree, the Mets situation is isolated, and totally unrelated to anything else in MLB. It's more a direct function of Madoff, and Wilpon falling victim to the Ponzi scheme. LAD's situation is similar, only in that it's unrelated to anything going on in baseball--it's more directly related to the personal lives of the ownership of the team.

    The idea of scaling back interleague play is something I can definitely get behind. I don't think it should be done away with totally, but I agree, should be drawn down.

    Eliminating the 2gm series has pros & cons. But you can't just do 3 game sets all year long under the current situation, without disrupting a few key things, not the least of which being, say it with me: revenue from TV. It would make for one day off each week, which could work, but would add a little complexity. I mean, we can't have Mondays or Thursdays where there are only 2 or 3 games. It'd be do-able, but you'd have to be careful for scheduling pitfalls. Plus, you don't want to run into Nov, or have to start in March.

    Speaking of TV revenue, it's the reason we don't see World Series games played during the day anymore, and the reason why games 3-4-5 will probably never be scheduled on a Fri-Sat-Sun...television ratings are much lower on those days, not to mention you put yourself in direct competition with football for viewers. Few things can compete with football and win. While I'm on the topic of TV revenue, that's where expansion comes into play. There simply aren't enough people living in Omaha, Greensboro, Portland...etc. San Diego is a great example of low revenue from TV--the Ocean to the west, Mexico to the south, LA is a little ways north, but mountains are to the east. Not much you can do with that, in terms of generating TV revenues.

    I am LOVING where this whole discussion is heading. Lots of great input--let's keep it going!

  8. I've always thought a third NYC team would be great for putting a bit of drag on the revenue for those two teams (especially the Yankees) and forcing them to be a little more cost-focused. They are always going to be the richest team, but it would affect them somewhat, probably more than the luxury tax has so far. The only reason the Mets haven't dominated the NL like the Yanks have the AL is incompetent management and ownership. That is a situation that probably won't last forever.

    I'd toss interleague play, because it creates more problems than it is worth. I'd probably keep the current 16/14 split, perhaps moving TB to NYC (can you imagine the divisional rivalry that would be there?).

    I'd keep the divisional schedule, because I believe like Jon that you have to have that unbalanced nature to know who the real best team is. The way it was when you played 13 times against in division and 12 times against out of division, you could beat up on a weaker division and win yours. Not so much with the 18/6 split they have now.

    I'm not a wild-card fan at all, so I'd probably go along with Pip's note about returning to two divisions. If you must stay at three because of pennant races, give the best record the bye to the NLCS. They get rested, they line up their rotation, and most likely that means the best team plays in the Series.

  9. The three divisional arrangement prevents some really good rivalries from even getting started. Under the current scenario, we never would have had Mets/Cards (pondscum), Braves/Cardinals, or Giants/Cardinals (that one was late 60s, and it was brutal).

    If we are thinking along the lines of what is best for the sport, instead of driving the maximum revenue, it would be easy to drop the two teams in Florida. Their attendance is embarrassing, even when the team is winning. Dropping two teams would allow some re-balancing between the two leagues, and you could go back to a 2 division system. Maybe this time the Braves might actually play in the NL East :-)

    Although it seems popular with the fans (using attendance figures to support that assertion), I would throw out inter-league play immediately. It makes the scheduling more difficult, and introduces more problems (unbalanced schedule) than it solves.

    Any thoughts like a first round bye, playing more than a single game home advantage need to be rejected immediately.

    But then, I'm a traditionalist :-)

  10. One last thought, the concept of "hang in there and get hot at the end of the season" was invented for fans that don't have the attention to follow along for an entire season and appreciate the beauty of a long protracted battle between foes fought over months.

    There should be no cheap invitations when your season is 162 games long.

  11. Since you brought it up yesterday I got a more recent post on the topic on Redbird Rants.

    Check it out! You know I want your input Dathan! http://redbirdrants.com/2011/06/12/mlb-proposes-team-realignment/