Buck Showalter of ESPN has come up with his own version of how to align MLB divisions.
First things first. He makes enemies of the entire state of Florida, as task number one is to eliminate two franchises. He has chosen Tampa Bay and Florida. No big deal, he says, they have spring training anyway.
In his world there will be no need for inter-league play because there will no longer be an American or National League. Major League Baseball, that's all there is.
His plans include 28 teams due to the unfortunate demise of the Rays and Marlins. He would call for four divisions grouped geographically which would eliminate travel (I am all for that, if it would work.)
Chicago White Sox
Buck is on the fence when it comes to the DH. Take it or leave it, but we can't have both.
Each team will play everyone else six times, three at home and three on the road.
It looks like a division in the east to be called the Babe Ruth Division and one in the west to be known as the Jackie Robinson Division. He would also have two divisions in the heartland, one called the Roberto Clemente Division and the other to be called the Hank Aaron Division.
If I may play the devil's advocate for a moment, why must it be Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente? I have no beef with Ruth and Aaron, arguably the two best to ever play the game.
What's wrong with Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, or Ted Williams? Each of the three more deserving than the other two.
Surely it would not be a race-card thing, would it? As it sits now you have a German American, a Latin American, and two African Americans. If you used Musial you would be replacing one of the African Americans with a Polish American, hmm.
On the other hand if you put Gehrig in you would then have two German Americans, hard to sort it out and still be politically correct.
I say Jackie goes and Musial steps in, with my most sincere apologies to Lou Gehrig, probably the second best player ever. His only crime so far, having German ancestors. We can't have two. It just won't do. Enough of this, I digress.
Showalter is not yet clear on his plans for a playoff, maybe even having the best two teams having a bye in the first round.
My first question as I looked into this blender was, "What about the Mid-Summer Classic, the All-Star Game?" Would we have a game that would match Ruth/Robinson vs. Clemente/Aaron or what?
I am not a mathematician and I don't play one on TV or here on the Internet, but I don't know how much all of this will save on travel. The West Coast bunch would still have to travel East and vice versa. You figure it up. I am just a would-be writer.
I do like the fact that everyone would play everyone the same number of times, making the playing field as level as the proverbial pancake.
This will affect the MVP voting. A player has to compete against one league now. With Showalter's New Order (my words not his) he would have to go up against the entire Major League.
The same obviously applies to all of the other awards we have been accustomed to over the decades.
A couple more "t"s to cross—what happens to the Florida and Tampa Bay players and personnel? Would the other teams then have a lottery? Goodbye Joe Maddon, so long Freddie Gonzalez.
In my humble opinion, the current setup does need work. I have designed a "new order" myself.
They are much easier to put on paper than to implement in real life. At least in mine I don't murder any franchises.
As long as Uncle Bud is in the driver's seat, this bus "aint going nowhere."
Cliff Eastham is a B/R Featured Columnist for the Cincinnati Reds.
He is also Editor of the site, "Old School" Sports World
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