TMI…| Realignment Is Here Thanks to Joe West’s Mouth; Bud Selig’s Committee

April 12, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Bud Selig has his own version of Health Care.

Realigning baseball.

It’s not a matter of if it’s coming, but when, and how different it will be from the current format. When it happens there will be praise and there will be criticism; it’s not going to be perfect, because nothing ever is.

But we as baseball fans, who knowingly philander with the game to the begrudging comments from our close relatives, must not be cynical about it.

We are in a modern world where technology and advancement are part of our society. Things change to improve. Nothing stays the same anymore, not even baseball.

When the NFL can change its playoff overtime rules or the NCAA can shove expansion down everyone’s throat, why can’t baseball’s divisions change? Why can’t we eliminate the hitting pitcher?

Those who want change don’t have a say in it, and those who don’t want it are the voices that count.

But regardless of how tight the resistance has been in the past, baseball is going to change.

Bud Selig appointed a 14-member committee in December 2009.

Their target goal is to review and make recommendations on all aspects of the game on the field; from scheduling, to playoff formats, to umpiring, to pace of game, to instant replay and to whatever other issues the Committee deems appropriate.

“There will be no sacred cows,” said Selig.

When Joe West blasted the Yankees and Red Sox before their game on April 7, it opened the window; gave us a little insight on the influence this committee is already making in the game.

“The commissioner of baseball says he wants the pace picked up,” West said. “We try. And [Tuesday night’s game] still almost went four hours.”

West and players agreed that the initiative to speed up games is not new, dating back five years.

But, it is funny how Cowboy Joe chooses this point to say something, only days into a season, months after a special committee has been chosen with the authority to discuss and promote speeding up the game.

“That issue is made every spring training…so it’s not anything new,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Are they trying to enforce it a little more? Right now it appears [they are]. The jury will be out on that at the end of the year.”

West said special emphasis has not been placed on speeding up games this season. But umpires are evaluated on how quickly the games move, he said.

But that’s always how it is.

No one is going to go out and say that anyone is telling them to change anything until it becomes official.

Besides, that’s how these special committees work. They’re the ones who sit together and talk about these things in quiet. They don’t make public statements at all—especially when most of them are currently employed or employee major league teams and players.

It’s all behind the scenes.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad or secretive. These members have earned their place in baseball history and they have the right to make changes.

With the case of Joe West, it seems that they are making decisions and it is not a ridiculous notion to suggest that something major will soon happen.

If you have recently read anything from any writer who has anything to say about baseball, you know that everyone has their own proposal and their own views on what should happen regarding realignment.

As Ken Rosenthal wrote; ask five people for opinions on realignment, and you’ll get six ideas.


Realignment is simple

Take the 30 MLB teams, the six divisions, the two leagues; turn them upside down and right side out. How this happens, i.e., who goes where and who plays who, can be spun hundreds of different ways and the final result will probably not satisfy anyone.

But the point is to make the sport more competitive.

Back in 2000, Bud Selig proposed realignment for the first time. In a nutshell, he suggested that the Rays and Diamondbacks were to swap leagues, the divisions were to be reorganized, and the NL was to lose the Wild Card.

This obviously failed, and it failed miserably.

So, if realignment is actually going to happen, Selig and the committee will first need some convincing.

For example, if something drastic were to happen, like say, the three AL East teams were to finish 2010 with 95 plus wins and the AL Central crown went to a team with under 85 wins, there could be some grumbling among owners and other influential people.

Something like this would need to happen because at the rate we are going now, why would anyone want to change?

In 2009 alone, Major League Baseball enjoyed a record $6.6 billion in revenues.

In 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series. In 2007, the Colorado Rockies did the same.

Since 2001, baseball has enjoyed eight different World Champions.

Baseball seems diverse enough when you look at it that way. The sport is obviously competitive.

So, why fix what isn’t broken?

If you’re going to look at it that way you are only looking at the end result, the tip of the iceberg, if you will.

But as we all know, the tip of the iceberg is well…the tip of the iceberg.

Realignment is being seriously considered because there is so much more underneath:

·         Disparity of teams

How can two of the best teams in baseball be in the same division? In the AL East, the Yankees and Red Sox are near locks every year to make the playoffs. It’s happened five times since 2001. In the other four seasons, the wild card has come from the Central or the West. We aren’t even going back more than 10 years and the disparity is overwhelming.

·         Balanced schedules

There are so many inequities when wild card contenders are playing late in the season. There is a simple way to put this; because the schedule is fixed so that teams play the most games against other teams in the division wild card contenders are playing meaningfully different competition when competing for the final playoff berth in each league.

For example: Team Ex is fighting for the wild card spot in the American League. Because Team Ex is in the dominant AL East, they must face Team Basher and Team Crasher a whopping 36 times in the regular season, where another wild card contender, Team Why, only has to face them a total of 12 times (at the most).

We don’t even need to touch on the fact that Team Ex has little chance anyway because they are in the division with Teams Basher and Crasher, who will take the division and the wild card to boot.

But because of the unfair scheduling, they have even less chance than Team Why does of slipping through, because they have to face such stiff competition.

·         Unbalanced divisions

How can the Anaheim Angels only compete with three teams when the St. Louis Cardinals compete with five? This solution would be exercised by simply moving one NL team over to the AL. Because there are two teams in Pennsylvania I would propose moving Pittsburg into the AL. We don’t need Philadelphia in a league with the Yankees and Red Sox.

Other issues

The problems that the league is faced with when considering realignment is primarily laid in the Yankees/Red Sox games. The rivalry is so heated, so hyped up, that some are scared that by changing things, the intensity of the games will fizzle.

That is just ridiculous. First of all, there are 162 games—not to mention playoffs where the two teams can meet—in a season. There are no issues in baseball when it comes to scheduling teams to play one another, there are so many games.

Besides, as you will see below, in realignment the Red Sox and Yankees can still be battling for a playoff bye.

Secondly, the league is driven by ratings and when the new realignment is proposed one of the main focuses should, and will, be continuing heated rivalries.

Yankees vs. Red Sox. Yankees vs. Mets. Giants vs. Athletics. Angels vs. Dodgers. Cubs vs. White Sox. Cubs vs. Cardinals.

The list can go on and on, the simplest solution can be to include in the schedule old and geographical rivalries.

The committee is not stupid, they know their baseball history, they know what games will attract the most ratings.

But what type of realignment would make sense?

As stated earlier, ask five people you can get five different answers. From what I have read there are realistic and unrealistic proposals. Most of them are centered on biased opinions and uneducated ideas.

One of the more realistic and optimistic writers is ESPN’s Buster Olney. I subscribe to ESPN Insider just to read his daily blog, in fact, my column is largely influenced off of his. But that’s what I try to do, read the best to write the best. It’s no surprise his proposal m akes the most sense. It’s very simple and very similar to mine, though there are a few differences.


My proposal

Build the regular-season schedules off the previous season records

I know that Bud Selig loves his division rivalries, in fact, the way they have it set up is fantastic—if the league were to impose a salary cap. But creating one, with the way revenue sharing is now, is actually impossible.

So I believe the league needs to take a semi-page out of the NFL playbook, have the teams aligned by division and have them play more games against teams based on the previous year’s record.

In other words, with a system like this in place, the third AL division has the third best record in the AL the previous year in the same division with the sixth, ninth, 12th, and (moving a Pennsylvania team into the AL) the 15th ranked teams.

With this “floating” realignment, Selig can keep his division scheduling intact, but because it is floating, no team will get stuck in a division where two teams are considered the best in baseball.

MLB, Realigned By 2009 Record  

NL Division 1

NL Division 2

NL Division 3

AL Division 1

AL Division 2

AL Division 3






Red Sox












White Sox






Blue Jays








Give playoff spots to the top six teams in each league

This allows 12 of the best 30 teams to advance in the league. This is almost a quasi-NBA style type of playoff system, but with a smaller ceiling. There will still be division winners, but there will be two wild card teams in each league. There are good teams that will still lose out in the end in this format.

If this was used in 2009, Detroit (86 W), Texas (87 W), San Francisco (88 W), and Florida (86 W) would have made the playoffs, while Seattle (85 W), Tampa Bay (84 W), and Atlanta (86 W) would have still missed out.

All of them were quality, playoff worthy, teams. This format will eliminate the disparity in the league; Tampa (everyone’s favorite team to use as an example, even though there were better teams in 2009) would still have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs even if the Yankees and Red Sox are both in.


Throw some playoff obstacles in front of the lowest seeds

As Olney says: You can’t mitigate success over a 162-game season; you need to reward the summer long success.

The two teams that finished with the best records in their respective leagues would have a first-round bye, and then the No. 3 and No. 4 teams would play host to the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in the first round of the playoffs in a three-game series.

The second round of the postseason would pit the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds against the winners of the first round, in seven-game series—with the usual format continuing through the League Championship Series and the World Series. Honestly, how could anyone have a problem with that.

Other minor changes that I would implement

1)    Eliminate the batting pitcher. This rule makes no sense why it is in one league and not the other. No sense at all. If a pitcher like Micah Owings wants to hit and is better than any other option, let him DH. I have never understood why this continues; no one wants to see a pitcher hit unless you are the opposing pitcher; He is almost guaranteed two or three strikeouts that day.

2)    Keep Interleague play confined to old rivalries. Yankees vs. Mets, Athletics vs. Giants. No one wants to see Yankees vs. Nationals—it only happens once every three years as it is…

3)    Instant replay is implemented for everything—but the catch is, a manager can only have two instant replays per game. Kind of like a time out if you want to compare to other sports.

4)    Catching visits are only allowed one trip to the mound, just like coaching staffs. If there is a second, there is a pitching change…

…To read the entire column, go to the Baseball Glutton’s website,  Two On One Out   and feel free to leave a comment.



Joshua Worn publishes “The Most Interesting…” column every Monday and Friday on his website,  Two On One Out . If you would like to follow his bi-weekly collection, you can subscribe through the website or by e-mailing him at thebaseballglutton@comcast.net  


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