Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Improve MLB

I really think the powers-that-be in MLB have under-estimated the potential popularity of pennant races.  Right now, the A's and the Angels are locked in a terrific battle at the top of the American League, while the Nats, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Braves, and Cardinals are all bunched together at the top of the National League.  But no one cares very much because almost all of those teams will make the playoffs no matter what -- and when the playoffs finally get here, those games will be on cable in the middle of the night.  As a result, American sports fans are missing what could be some amazing drama.

But everyone is obsessed with the idea that you can never go "back" in America -- every change, no matter how unpopular, is usually defended on grounds of "progress."  (New Coke being a rare exception of where an unpopular change was actually reversed.)  So since Americans refuse to go "back," is there a way to go "forward" and make new arrangements that give us pennant races?

Here's one idea:

Add the Montreal Expos and the Brooklyn Robins to the National League
Move the Milwaukee Brewers back to the American League.

Now you have 16 teams in each league.

Play one more season with all the wild cards – But after this season, the eight teams with the best record in each league will go into the first division, and the other eight teams go into the second division.

Then, going forward, each league has two divisions, and each division has eight teams.  You play 22 games against every team in your division – that's 154 games.  The winners of the two first divisions meet in the World Series.

The two bottom teams in each first division are relegated to the second division.  The two top teams in each second division are promoted to the first division.

Current luxury tax rules apply to the first division, but there is no salary cap or luxury tax for teams in the second division.

So next year, using the current stats, the first division in the American League would be the A's, the Angels, the Brewers, the Tigers, the Orioles, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, and the Mariners.  The first division in the National League would be the Nats, the Dodgers, the Giants, the Braves, the Cardinals, the Pirates, the Reds, and the Marlins.

Here's another:

Keep the teams and leagues as they are, but eliminate all divisions.  Every team plays the other 14 teams in its league 10 times, and then plays 16 interleague games.  That's a 156 game season.  The two pennant winners go to the World Series.

Under either scenario, the regular season always ends on the first Sunday in October, and the World Series always begins at 3 P.M. Eastern on the next Saturday.  The schedule for the World Series is always as follows:

Saturday:  3 P.M. ET
Sunday:  2:30 P.M. ET
Tuesday:  7:30 P.M. ET
Wednesday:  7:30 P.M. ET
Thursday:  7:30 P.M. ET
Saturday:  3 P.M. ET
Sunday:  2:30 P.M. ET

All World Series games would be broadcast on over-the-air T.V.  This way, all kids would be able to see the first two games of the World Series -- as well as games 6 and 7, if the Series went that far.  And since the pitching staffs wouldn't be burned out from three weeks' worth of playoff baseball, I think you'd see more World Series go that far.

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