Saturday, July 2, 2011

Realigning the major leagues

It’s great to be back. Did anyone miss me? What I should have done was take a computer on vacation with me, but we had no idea what kind of access we’d have in the various places we visited in Italy, and it seemed silly to drag something around that we’d only use very little. Anyway, I’m back in the saddle – but still I’d rather still be in Italy.

Hal Bodley on wrote a column the other day in which he has a few suggestions that I think would go a long way towards addressing some scheduling issues that have existed for the past few years. Here’s where you can read it: Hal Bodley’s Column and I’d suggest you do. He makes a great deal of sense.

First and foremost, Bodley suggests realigning the league. Why was it made unbalanced in the first place? That’s what I’d like to know. The fact that it was Bud Selig’s own team, The Brewers, that were moved to the national league is very suspect. The only real reason they could give is that there would be a natural rivalry between Milwaukee and The Cubs. That’s just no reason to have 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other – and all the inherent scheduling problems it causes, not to mention the silliness of having one national league game when the rest of the teams are doing the interleague thing. Could the switch have been made because Selig thought his team would have a better chance making the post season in the NL rather than the generally stronger AL? Anyway you slice it, the move was stupid.

Now there’s talk about moving the Astros to the AL West (which only has 4 teams). Whatever way they do it, whatever team they move, all I can say is, “It’s about friggin’ time.” The Brewers should never have been moved in the first place, and you can bet if it had been any other team than the Commissioner’s, it would not have happened. I’ll bet previous commissioners were rolling in their graves over that move.

Another suggestion Bodley throws in is to have one Interleague game going on every day, rather than two blocks of games in the year. Personally, I’d rather see them chuck the whole idea, but I know that will never happen, so the idea of spreading them out throughout the year is a good one.

The only alternative to moving an NL team is to add two to the AL. With a number of teams already struggling at the gate in both leagues, that would be also be incredibly stupid. All MLB has to do is take a look at the train wreck happening in the NHL because they put teams in American cities where little or no interest in hockey existed before. If MLB were to make this kind of move, I can’t think of a single city in North America that would be a good candidate unless they did something creative like move into Mexico or some other Central American country. Regardless, any expansion would be stupid at this time.

So what do they do?

The third thing Bodley discusses is the idea that’s been floated of eliminating divisions in each league. He comes out dead against it, but I’m not so sure it’s that bad of an idea. Rooting for a team in the AL East as I do, the idea has some merit. If you’re in the current AL West, you only have to have a better record than three other teams. AL and NL central tend to be rather weak from year to year. Getting rid of divisions would very much level the field. The reason it won’t happen is that MLB is trying their very best to avoid playoff matches that would lead to teams on the same side of the country or even the same division appearing in playoff games or even the World Series together. The television audience takes precedence whenever we get into playoffs.

What do you think? All I can say is they’re way overdue to change something.


Will Braund said...

Well said, Rick, and moving Houston to the AL West makes a lot of sense. So, let's ditch Interleague Play, and wish the Orioles and the Jays good luck, cuz' having three of the top 5 or 6 teams in baseball in your division sucks.

Will Braund said...

You know, Rick, I have said it before but I'll say it again ... pretty near everything has happened before in baseball. In researching my next blog about the All-Star Game I discovered that there had been interleague play (besides Spring Training) in baseball before Bud Selig. Mind you, the circumstances were a bit special.

Despite risking public outrage, the Major League owners collectively decided to cancel the 1945 All-Star Game due to wartime travel restrictions. According to NL President Ford C. Frick, cutting out the contest would bring a significant savings with approximately 500,000 fewer passenger miles spent.

As a replacement, eight simultaneous local "inter-league" games were scheduled between the National and American Leagues to help raise money for the American Red Cross and War Relief efforts.

The games included the Yankees versus the Giants at the Polo Grounds, the Cubs versus the White Sox at Comiskey Park, the Reds versus the Indians at Cleveland Stadium, the Dodgers versus the Senators at Griffith Stadium, the Cardinals versus the Browns at Sportsman's Park, the Athletics versus the Phillies at Shibe Park, the Tigers versus the Pirates at Forbes Field (which ended up being cancelled) and the Braves versus the Red Sox at Fenway.

Rick Blechta said...

A good point, Will, and "do-overs" include making the same damn mistakes a second and even a third time.