Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's realignment plan of moving the Houston Astros to the American League West solves the uneven division dilemma, but it does nothing to improve the state of the game.
Astros fans are outraged that their team is moving to the American League, but what if there was no American or National League? Would the fans of the game still be as angry?
Baseball, compared to any other sport, is more about tradition and the history of the game. Fans were outraged in the past about adding Wild Card teams, but I think most have come on board because it makes the season more interesting when more teams still have a shot at the playoffs.
I was born in a time when there were only eight teams in each league, and only the champion of that league made the playoffs. By the time I became a baseball fan, there were 10 teams in each league, with one representative making the postseason.
In 1969, divisions came about with two in each league and a playoff before the World Series.
What I am proposing may be radical, but I think it would make the game better for the fans and for the players.
Giving home-field advantage to the winner of the All-Star game is a not so popular rule change. My way will eliminate that.
Don't have a stroke as I lay this out, but my ideas are to create more natural rivalries, and have a fairer playoff system so playing in a weak division doesn't automatically give you an unfair advantage.
Before I get to the breakdown of teams and the explanation of what some of you may think is insanity on my part, I want to give every team an even playing field and to right a wrong that has been going on for far too many years now—the designated hitter.
American League teams have a distinct advantage in the World Series because they have a DH on the roster, even though he only plays in the AL park.
That guy is usually a big-bopper, especially on a team that is good enough to make the World Series. The NL team, on the other hand, is usually stuck with a bench player having to fit into that key role.
The DH is gone in my vision, but an extra player is added to each team because the players union will raise a ruckus about it. That is my way of appeasing them.
How about AL fans who never get to watch someone like an Albert Pujols?
My proposal will eliminate that and allow the fans to see everyone over a two-year period. It's great for attendance, because those bottom-feeders will at least draw sellouts or close to it for teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.
It will also create more natural rivalries because the divisions I propose will put those rivals together. You will now play more games against that team, because there will no longer be a National or American League.
Now you're probably saying they will never play each other in the World Series, so you're not going for it. Stop that, because you're getting ahead of yourselves.
Here are the divisions, and as Paul Harvey used to say, then I'll give you the rest of the story.
Can you imagine the rivalries that would develop from that setup?
Not all of the divisions are perfect, but this is the best balance I could come up with based on the cities involved. On paper, the Mideast looks pretty weak right now, but that could change in the future.
You play teams in your own division 12 times for a total of 48 games. You play teams in three of the other divisions six games with a home and home series each for a total of 90 games.
You also play one other division three games and alternating home and home each season those divisions play each other.
One division gets left out each year, but you play them the next season, so fans get to see every player in baseball every two years.
If my addition is correct, that adds up to a 153 game season. That means you can either start a little later and not have those cold spring games in northern cities, or you can end it earlier and not play the World Series in frigid temperatures.
Now we get to the playoff system. What I have come up with is what I think is the fairest way for teams to qualify for the playoffs. It also eliminates an automatic berth for the winner of a division.
I know I will probably get hell for that, but it's not fair that a team in a bad division makes the playoffs, while a far better team sits home and watches.
My structure is a 1-9 seeding. Teams Nos. 8 and 9 play in a one-game playoff to determine who will advance to the postseason. This idea is consistent with the new rule adding another Wild Card team, and gives more teams a chance to get in.
Every other series will be best of seven.
What it does eliminate is a weak division winner getting home-field advantage over a stronger Wild Card team. Isn't that the fair way to do things?
After the Wild Card playoff, the No. 1 seed will play the winner of that game. No. 2 plays No. 7, No. 3 plays No. 6, and Nos. 4 and 5 go at it.
After each round, there will be a reseeding with the highest-seeded team playing the lowest-seeded team left. That will eliminate a team not as deserving of making the playoffs getting an easy route to the World Series. If they keep beating the best teams left, they will deserve to win.
My way will still make it possible for the Cubs and the Sox or any other natural rivals to play each other in the World Series. It will also make it a possibility that the Yankees and Red Sox face off in the big game. Wouldn't the sports networks love that?
It eliminates having a really good team like the Yankees, Rays or Red Sox not making the playoffs in the current system because they play in a loaded division.
As I said, there are no more leagues, so anybody can play anybody. Think of the excitement that will create.
If you're going to change things, I think you might as well go all the way. I know there will be an outcry against it from the purists, but over time I think they will see the advantages of my way.
It makes the game better for the fans, and fairer for the teams involved. How is that wrong?
I'm sure you will tell me.
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