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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Despite the ongoing steroid controversy and allegations throughout Major League Baseball, the sport’s popularity is still very high. In fact, attendance numbers continue to prove that. I believe the product can still be improved tremendously through some careful realignment and by eliminating the two leagues combining them into one.

The problem I have with baseball is that it might be TOO traditional. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditions that are associated with the sport. I’m a huge Cubs fan and I completely respect the fact that everything at Wrigley Field is about 60 years behind the rest of the world in technology. How are we still at a point where one professional sport is broken into different leagues that utilize the same contracts, tv revenue, and still play against each other, yet at the same time use a different set of rules? There are uneven divisions, there are teams separated by less than 20 miles not playing each other but 6 times a year, and we have a system where an exhibition game decides home field advantage in the World series. Any of this sound completely ridiculous?

It’s time for a change and lets be honest, it’s not drastic at all. I’m just trying to form some continuity. Here’s what I propose:

1) ELIMINATE THE A.L. AND N.L. TO FORM ONE LEAGUE:

Every other major sport has one league but are broken down more or less into conferences. This needs to happen to Major League Baseball. A simple Eastern/Western Conference divide will suffice. Not only will this allow teams within proximity to compete against each other more frequently, it eliminates the absolutely unfair divisions of the old system (see AL West and NL Central).

My breakdown would be as follows…

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

NORTHEAST DIVISION:
– Boston Red Sox
– New York Mets
– New York Yankees
– Philadelphia Phillies
– Toronto Blue Jays
CENTRAL DIVISION:
– Chicago Cubs
– Chicago White Sox
– Cincinnati Reds
– Cleveland Indians
– Pittsburgh Pirates
SOUTHEAST DIVISION:
– Atlanta Braves
– Baltimore Orioles
– Florida Marlins
– Tampa Bay Rays
– Washington Nationals

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

MIDWEST DIVISION:
– Detroit Tigers
– Kansas City Royals
– Milwaukee Brewers
– Minnesota Twins
– St. Louis Cardinals
WESTERN DIVISION:
– Los Angeles Angels
– Los Angeles Dodgers
– Oakland Athletics
– San Francisco Giants
– Seattle Mariners
SOUTHWEST DIVISION:
– Arizona Diamondbacks
– Colorado Rockies
– Houston Astros
– San Diego Padres
– Texas Rangers

Yes, I know there may be a couple questionable decisions here, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers how fair it was to play in the East before the NFL’s realignment. This format will keep top rivalries in-tact which as you can tell from interleague play, boost revenue.

2) ONE SET OF RULES:

Under the new MLB realignment, there will be only ONE set of rules. I would prefer the DH rule be eliminated because having 9 position players hit is natural and requires more strategy. However I understand that a good portion of other leagues use the DH and I would have no problem with that.

Believe it or not, there are other things that are quite miniscule that differ between the AL and NL. One thing in particular is the curfew rule in the American League that says an inning can’t start after a particular time of the night.

3) SCHEDULING:

There will be more balance in the schedule under realignment. I would propose a 156 game schedule and recommend that every team plays every team in the league at least one 3 game series. This means at a minimum you would play the opposite conference 45 times. The remaining 111 games would take place within your own conference with a greater percentage against your own division.

4) PLAYOFF FORMAT:

This remains relatively unchanged, but the 156 game schedule would allow the playoffs to begin week earlier to try and end the season before bitter cold ensues in some cities.

The division winners in each conference would receive a playoff spot and one wild card from each conference would also be awarded a spot. Division winners will be seeded 1-3 with the wild card being seeded 4th. #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3 in a best of 7 wild card round regardless of what division the wild card comes from. Note the change to a best of 7 as opposed to a best of 5.

The winners play in the CCS (Conference Championship Series) best of 7 and the winners will play in the World Series. For every single round, the better seed will have home field advantage, including the World Series, something that we can’t seem to grasp in the current format.

Of course this doesn’t even acknowledge plans I have for a strict salary cap to baseball, but that’s for an entirely different post.

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