Recently there has been a lot of discussion about radically realigning Major League Baseball’s divisions, eliminating the American and National Leagues altogether and dramatically altering the format of the playoffs.
It’s being considered, allegedly, in an attempt to create more fan interest—and thereby revenue—by generating more rivalries, evening out the schedule and reducing travel by teams.
However, my suspicion is that these ideas are commissioner Bud Selig’s swan song, an attempt for remembrance.
Selig first gained notoriety as the game’s commissioner during the game's six-year strike in the 1990s (or did it only feel that long?). Afterwards, he led the charge toward the induction of the wild card into interleague play and then right into the steroid era. Oops, that wasn’t where he meant to go, was it?
Right now Bud Selig is known as the commissioner who “looked the other way” when performance-enhancing drugs became commonplace in the sport, spiking offensive numbers and creating popularity. However, when the bubble burst—thank you, Jose Canseco—Mr. Selig looked foolish and incompetent.
What better way to save his reputation, his legacy, than by dramatically altering baseball’s landscape just before leaving office for retirement?
It's got to be better to be known as the commissioner who was a forward thinker and tried to bring the game into the 21st century, rather than the stooge who stood idly by and saw human beings turn into Popeye by ingesting something other than spinach.
He was all over the place during McGwire and Sosa’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, but refused to show up when Bonds broke Aaron’s mark.
Anyone stunned by the fact that McGwire and Sosa didn’t come across those biceps naturally at the time were probably also surprised by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods weren’t completely faithful to their wives.
These potential moves are not about the good of the game, the future of the sport or anything like that. Baseball is as healthy as it’s ever been, as relevant as it’s ever been, and will only continue to grow.
Yes, some teams are down on attendance, but that has more to do with the economy and people being unable to afford to support their teams rather than a lack of interest.
These moves are designed to change Bud Selig’s image, to preserve his legacy and rewrite the final chapter of the book that was already written and trashed by reviewers.
Good job, Bud. But if we are going to rip up the foundation that has been Major League Baseball for over a hundred years, why stop at just realignment? Why not blow the entire thing up, drastically change every aspect of the sport and introduce it to the 21st century?
Here are the best ways Major League Baseball can change its image—and in the process, drastically destroy the integrity of the game.