Friday, May 27, 2011

Realignment in Baseball

I visited today, and saw a great post on realignment in baseball. This prompted a response, which I am posting below and on their site.

Realignment presents a number of problems, however there are factors to consider before it should ever occur in MLB. This is a topic far more complex than just shifting around teams. To do this right, numerous factors must be considered; factors that impact the future of the league in its entirety.

The first factor to consider the long term health of the league and its franchises to see if any teams can relocate to a better environment. Which franchises are in financial danger, either due to attendance concerns, ballpark issues, or ownership concerns? L.A. Dodgers have a beautiful ballpark, but their ownership is in shambles. However, they are an iconic team, they aren't going anywhere. The Rays have a much shorter, albeit very successful recent history. They have attendance and ballpark issues. They are a team that everyone should agree that from a solely fiscal standpoint, they should be near the top of the list if contraction ever comes up again. The Pirates have been terrible for many years with weak attendance, but they have a great ballpark and if they ever put a good product back on the field, they'll have consistent sellouts. The A's have a rotten ballpark, but decent ownership. The Marlins are a good franchise, but  are getting a new stadium soon, apparently.

Will/Can/Should any of these teams relocate to greener pastures? Should the league contract? Should the league expand? No need to shake up the league without answering some of these questions prior to realigning the divisions.

Let's look at the time zone breakdown of the league. There are 14 teams in Eastern time, 8 teams in Central time, 2 teams in Mountain, and 6 in Pacific. Currently, the AL West stretches across 3 time zones, and approximately 2,000 miles. That must change. The West has grow heavily in population over the decades, yet of the last three expansions (1977, 1993, and 1998), only half of the teams were added west of Central Time (Seattle, Colorado, Arizona). Florida picked up two teams and Toronto received the other. While you cannot go off of this info alone, as first glance, I would think it possible that at least one of two future expansion teams will be placed in either Las Vegas or Portland in the Pacific timezone. The other franchise should go to either San Antonio, Nashville, Charlotte, Orlando, Oklahoma City, a third NYC team, or even another foreign team, like Mexico City (doubtful, at least until their drug cartel issues are settled) or a return to Montreal. There are numerous holes with any choice, understandably, because the expansion process will be a toss-up. Portland doesn't even have a AAA baseball team at the moment and pro sports has seemed hesitant to move a franchise to Sin City. Nashville supports its Titans, but is it really a 3 sport town? San Antonio has the population, but will it support a MLB franchise? Is there space to build a pro ballpark in NYC? Will it be in Brooklyn? Can we stomach another NYC team?

I do believe baseball is ready to expand. I understand the fears of many purists that the game is too diluted, however by the time new franchises would be in place, we'll be creeping up on 20 years since the last expansion. More pitchers are coming from overseas, like Japan, Korea, and Australia. The World Baseball Classic has been a success. College players are becoming more polished and pro-ready every year. The Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program has been a success. Training is improved and recovery time from injuries has been significantly reduced since the 1990s.

So, here is what I would do, in scenario A, where Portland and either San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte are awarded a team:

AL West: LAA, OAK, SEA, AZ (move from NL)
AL South: TEX, BAL, TBR, San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte Expansion

NL West: LAD, SDP, SFG, Portland Expansion

Scenario B, where San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte and New York City are awarded teams:

AL West: LAA, OAK, SEA, AZ (move from NL)
AL South: TEX, BAL, TBR, San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte Expansion
AL East: CLE, NYY, BOS, New York Expansion

NL North: STL, CHC, MIL, TOR (move from AL)

The expansion possibilities seem logical. Rivalries remain largely intact, even across interleague boundaries. The only teams that switch leagues are among the last three expansions, leaving long established teams in their original divisions. No division crosses more than 2 time zones, reducing travel costs, jet lag, and prime time viewership opportunities for fans and sponsors.

That's it! Your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not in Georgia

I'm out of town, in Charleston, SC. Of course I leave when "Tornado Outbreak, 2011" hits. Too bad I'm here, and the Missus and Kid are still back "home". The Missus hates thunderstorms, so she's not a happy camper. But, keeping things in perspective, this has been a terrible storm, killing many in Alabama and Georgia.

I was going to post my NFL draft picks, but have been too busy the past few days and am pooped from working and driving 300 miles today. But here are my thoughts:

  • Cam Newton is overrated. No doubt he has talent, but he has proven that talent for a single, albeit great, year. Character issues, no doubt. He just feels slimy to me. He knew about the "pay-for-play" scheme his dad took the fall for, because if he didn't, its just another strike against him, this time for being stupid or oblivious. He needs to go to a team with an established QB, but will likely go 1st overall to Carolina. Haha, Jimmy Clausen. 
  • Ryan Mallett will be a better NFL QB. Character issues? Less than Newton. 
  • The Patriots will make a trade, shocking statement, I know. They could use a good DE. I like J.J. Watt from Wisconsin. They should also get QB Greg McElroy from Alabama. He could be Tom Brady, part two. 
  • Mark Ingram will be the first RB off the board, late in the first. I could see the Pats trading back to pick him up...he'll be an excellent pro. 
  • I can see as many as 7 QBs going in the first two rounds (Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Locker, Dalton, Kaepernick, and Ponder. Each of these guys is better than Jimmy Clausen, a second-rounder in 2010, but I still don't think this will be known as a great QB class. Ponder, Dalton, Gabbert, and Mallett have the best chances to excel. 
Oh, and President Obama was born in Hawaii. Another shocking development.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday Night, er, Sunday Morning Special

It was a good day yesterday in west Georgia. Took the kid to an Easter egg hunt, then ran some errands before coming home to work a little on the house and yard. My neighbors will be coming over this afternoon for the Easter Lunch the missus will make. So, Happy Easter to you.

The powers that be in Major League Baseball are proposing shifting from a 8 team playoffs to 10 teams. Not that any of us will have a say in the matter, but I'm not totally opposed to adding one additional team from each league to earn a trip to the World Series. 10 spots in the playoffs will certainly add intrigue, but I'm curious as to how the new wild card round will be played out.

MLB started this season in March to prevent the World Series from possibly being played in November. An extended playoffs would seem to inevitably push the playoffs into the next-to-last month of the year, making for highly unpredictable weather for about 80% of the cities that are home to MLB teams. The weather would be generally nice enough here in the Atlanta area, but for Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland, New York, Boston, Baltimore, etc...not so much. So, what are the proposals?

1) A one game "winner-take-all" between the two teams that aren't the division winners. Looking at the 2010 AL final standings, the Yankees would take on the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium before travelling to Tampa Bay for the next round. In the NL, the Padres would travel to Atlanta.

2) Logistical issues complicate anything more than a single "play-in" game. If it was a 3 game series, the Padres would have to fly cross country 4 times in a 4 to 5 day span assuming the series went 3 games and they had to play the San Francisco Giants in the next round.

3) One idea that was proposed that I like (but it'll never fly) would be to have the "play-in" round played at host stadium of the next round. This takes away true home field advantage from the wild card teams and eliminates many of the logistical concerns.

It will be interesting to see how Bud Selig and crew determine what system to use. There were a lot of doubters when the wild card round was added in the 90s, but I was not one of them. The wild card has been very beneficial to the playoffs, heck, my Angels were a wild card team that unexpectedly beat the Yankees, Twins, and Giants on the way to the 2002 World Series.

Other thoughts:

The Red Sox are in the Angels' collective heads. Daisuke Matsuzaka one-hit the Halos over 8 innings, leading to a 5-0 Red Sox victory. Ervin Santana has been underwhelming thus far, a stark contrast to the way Jered Weaver and Dan Haren have been pitching. The goodwill from winning the previous series in Texas certainly has faded fast. Here's hoping they bounce back to take a game from Boston today.

Well, gotta mow before it gets too hot out.