Monday, June 13, 2011

You Can't do that to Baseball!

Major League Baseball is considering shaking up its league alignment and giving both the American and National League 15 teams each, which means that one National League team would move to the American League. The thinking is that it would have to be a team from the NL Central moving to the AL west. The favorite seems to be the Houston Astros moving to the AL to foster a rivalry with the Texas Rangers. This must be long term thinking however, as the Astros have been terrible the past couple of seasons and been destroyed in inter-league play by the Rangers. There are also reports that the Baseball gods may only approve of the sale of the Astros if the new owner agrees to move his team to the AL.

Of course baseball is a fairly conservative sport, probably more than any other sport, change is met with great resistance. There was nearly rioting in the street over the DH (some baseball purists refuse to acknowledge it exists, much like Highlander nerds refuse to acknowledge the remake), and then the Wildcard. However, this obviously doesn't mean there can't be change. The DH did come about and the Wildcard did happen, and its a better league because of it (can you imagine no Jim Thome, David Ortiz, no 2003 Florida Marlins, or no 2004 “curse-breaking” Red Sox?).

A big part of this deal would that there would be two ideas that I find at least concerning, 2 more teams would make the playoffs, and there would be weekly inter-league games. Baseball currently has 8 teams going to the playoffs, 4 from each league. The winners of the 3 divisions in each league and one Wildcard team make it. Compared to other major sports leagues, baseball has the smallest playoff field. This leads to over half the teams being out of it by the All-Star break, and 95% of teams that are under .500 by June 1st missing the playoffs. It does seem that having such a small amount of teams making the playoffs diminishes the drama a long regular season could provide. While you certainly have to be a very good team to make the playoffs, having your team out of the race by June is certainly frustrating and can cause fan apathy (not to mention the economic impact, which I won't addresshere). However, one doesn't want to go the other way and be like the NBA and NHL where over half of the teams make the playoffs, making much of the regular season pointless as well. It does seem that the NFL probably has the best balance, as 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs (with the best 4 being rewarded with a bye round, something that probably isn't feasible in baseball). That seems like a ratio that baseball should shoot for, I think 10 out of 30 is a balance. So while I largely agree with the playoff expansion and am agnostic about switching a team to the other league, I don't like the inter-league plan. By having an inter-league series every week, I believe it gets rid of the alluring factor of inter-league play. I know there has been some criticism of inter-league play in the past few weeks, but I like inter-league play, and because I like inter-league play, I don't like this plan. Inter-league play is interesting because it wasn't something that had happened for almost all of baseball history, and now only happens for 2-3 weeks a season, and I think this adds to the interest to the early-mid parts of the season. It loses this if there is an inter-league series every weekend.

Bold Prediction: Bud Selig becomes his alter-ego, Mothra, fights Godzilla, and the Cubs move to Washington State to foster a rivalry with the Mariners.

No comments:

Post a Comment