Friday, January 23, 2009

Commish For A Day #11: Realignment II, By Value

When I said it was the Commish For A Day #10 was the last of the week, that was before Neate Sager sent me this. Neate is a member of our Canadian infantry division as well as the keeper of the Out of Left Field blog. Neate fully admits that he probably has become a bit unhinged by cheering for also-ran teams -- the Blue Jays, the Toronto Raptors, the Minnesota Vikings -- which probably influenced the post. He did want it to be known that between Red Sox fans and Yankees fans who make up half the crowd at Rogers Centre when their teams are in town to play the Jays, Yankees fans are far more pleasant.

Since it is about the money, it’s mildly amazing we made it this far without this suggestion – realignment based on what each franchise is worth.

This is fully acknowledged as the bleatin’ of a beaten Blue Jays fan trying to rationalize his younger self’s shortsighted team-picking (they were really good in the ’80s, plus I’m Canadian). It seems to be a consensus here that baseball
is in need of realignment, but the scenario floated here the other day kept the Jays in the AL East with two-thirds of Mt. YankRaysSox . No disrespect, but that won’t do.

One problem with the three-division format and unbalanced schedule is that it gives some of the franchises, considering their financial clout, a softer road toward contention.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals (ninth in the most recent Forbes MLB Valuation) got in the playoffs with 83 wins. The L.A. Dodgers (fourth) got in with 84 last season. The Seattle Mariners were able to contend in the AL West for most of 2007, even though they weren’t a very good team (as 2008 proved).

Meantime, the Jays go along, squeezing out 86, 83 and 86 wins in a tough division. Put them in a National League that uses a DH and they’d win the pennant every so often, but that’s lost on people. Up here, the media and people who were only baseball fans from 1992-94 always reduce it to, “Did they make the playoffs? No? Losers!” There’s no getting the point across that this isn’t hockey, which has twice as many playoff berths as baseball.

Orioles fans must feel the same way, to say nothing for fans in Kansas City and Pittsburgh (they exist, I’ve seen it on TV). Expanding the playoffs to 12-16 teams is a non-starter. One hundred sixty-two games is more than enough time to figure out who’s worth a damn. The wild card should also stay in, since it does correct for the vagaries in strength-of-schedule.

A balanced schedule (quoth the great Jays blog
The Tao of Stieb: “Our kingdom for a balanced schedule”) and a salary cap (and even then, would the Jays’ small-town cheap owner, Rogers Communications, spend to the cap?) have already been suggested. On top of that, let’s realign based on what each team is worth, using the 2008 Forbes MLB valuations. While we’re at it, we’re going back to two divisions in each league, with two wild-cards. Before someone pulls a Costas and points out a third-place team might win the World Series, keep in mind it happened already (see the ’06 Cardinals). Here’s what it would look like:
– Yankees (1), Red Sox (3), Angels (6), Mariners (11), White Sox (14), Indians (15), Rangers (16)

West – Tigers (17), Orioles (18), Blue Jays (22), Twins (25), A’s (26), Royals (27), Rays (29)

– Mets (2), Dodgers (4), Cubs (5), Braves (7), Giants (8), Cardinals (9), Phillies (10), Astros (12)

West – Nationals (13), Padres (19), Diamondbacks (20), Rockies (21), Reds (23), Brewers (24), Pirates (28), Marlins (30)
This would, at long last, acknowledge that whole history of baseball is a history of money. Having potentially three playoff teams coming out of one division gives some consideration to the big sharks; the smaller sharks aren’t so hamstrung by geographical considerations.

If there’s time, revenue sharing would be tweaked so that the Marlins and Royals, et al., would be forced to sink or swim.

During the last major recession, the financial gap between the haves and the have-less was exacerbated. This is by no means perfect, but there was only a day to pull it off. Baseball has been in a growth period, but at the end of the day, fans want to cheer for a winner, and this gives everyone a fairer shot. At the very least, it’s a nice fantasy for this summer when the Jays are padding upstream in the AL East – again.

What happens when some team boost salaries, like Detroit did the last few years? Would there be realignment every 5 years? How would the schedule work? So you'd take one rich guy and one poor guy from every league, plus two WC's...wouldn't that still favor the rich guys, almost disproportionately to where it is now? Gotta wrap my head around this one...

And that concludes the Commish For A Day series, at least for now. Thanks to all of you who contributed, either writing or commenting. I hope you found it as interesting as I have.

For previous CFAD entries:
  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster
  7. Commish For A Day #7: No DH!
  8. Commish For A Day #8: Realignment
  9. Commish For A Day #9: Balanced Schedule, InterLeague
  10. Commish For A Day #10: Stadium financing, WBC

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

terrible idea...didn't read the entire post...but by value, to me makes it a fluid division that could have interchanging parts year to year. Also something about the angels being in the al east...good effort though