Friday, December 10, 2010

Major League Baseball's Premiereship

Well, if the winter meetings proved anything, it's that Major League Baseball has clearly segregated itself into 3 nearly individual leagues. Follow my analogy for a minute:

The two Eastern leagues have clearly established themselves as the top flight. Once the Yankees get Cliff Lee (They will- They need him, and he needs the extra money they will inevitably guarantee) then all of the top free agents/trade targets will have landed in either the N.L. East, or the A.L East. Jayson Werth. Carl Crawford. Adrian Gonzalez. The list goes on and on.

The West divisions seem to have established themselves as a competent second division. There are a few big-ish spenders (LAA, SF, LAD, Even the Rockies are throwing money around.) but they mostly develop their own talent.

Below them are the two central divisions. Other than some drafted lottery-ticket jackpots (Pujols, Mauer, Greinke) there is very little talent in either central division. On top of that, they seem to be completely unable to attract top free agents.

The premiere divisions are getting stronger. The Blue Jays have emerged. The Orioles have re-loaded. The Nationals are spending money. The Marlins are graduating tremendous prospects. The Braves are poised for a long run of success. The Phillies are spending the profits from 2 World Series appearances. The Mets were quiet this year, but will resume their free-spending ways soon. Boston and the Yankees have the two top payrolls in baseball. Tampa has lost some big names, but will remain competitive.

Expanding baseball's playoff system will only continue to reward these weaker divisions. Balancing the schedule would help a little, but the weaker teams will continue to rack up wins against each other.

The system is broken, and here's my proposal to fix it:

Split the leagues in to two tiers. Take the 10 teams in the east (Exclude Tampa if they can't spend with the big boys. Florida too, once their prospects sign elsewhere) add 6 additional spots for teams in other divisions who are competitive. StL comes to mind, LAA and LAD fit as well. Texas, Colorado and San Francisco  make the most sense to fill out the remainder. If FLA/TB can't cut it, Detroit, the White Sox and Cubs would make terrific substitutes. There would be 4 divisions: 2 NL, 2 AL, with 4 teams each.

Play 162 games. See who emerges. Have the winners of each league playoff in the World Series. If necessary (Read: Profitable) have Divisional Series as well.

Whoever ends up in the bottom 2-4 positions after the regular season would be relegated to what would be the second tier of teams. Based on the current numbers, 14 teams would be left. I'd like to think that expansion would be possible so that both tiers could have the same number of teams. Montreal would fit well in a second division. Maybe Puerto Rico as well? Vancouver? BC is a terrific baseball community, producing some of the best players to come from Canada ever.

The top teams from tier 2 could be promoted, creating 4 more playoff games that would have terrific revenue-generating potential.

So there it is. It's a half-cooked idea, but what more can you expect with little to look forward to until February, when pitchers and catchers report? This is a collaborative effort, so if you see room for me to improve my plan before formal submission (Yeah... Right...) let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I think this would simply exacerbate the problem. You're basically proposing creating a AAAA league, which would scare off free agents. If baseball was this way then the Nationals would have been in the inferior league, due to suckitude. Do you think that Jayson Werth would have signed onto a team seen as inferior?

    There's no way high quality baseball players sign with teams in the bottom half. Eventually, the teams with the worst draft skills will fall to the bottom, and then the bottom league will have low quality draft players, except for Cant-miss draftees (who they'll lose ASAP), and little chance in the free agent market.