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  1. I can understand unbalanced schedules, but the MLB’s are too far outof whack. With the home-and-home series, they also get very boring.

    Comment by Bookbook — June 17, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  2. I wonder if teams that don’t have the Yankees/Sox in town as frequently get bigger spikes in attendance (i.e., do the Yankees produce a bigger jump when they visit KC). If so, that would mitigate the revenue lost…

    Comment by Scott_Hayter — June 17, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  3. Have you accounted for the premium ticket prices that are charged for the marquee games with the Yankees and Red Sox? The average ticket prices listed may be a 25% or more under estimate.

    Comment by JCJ — June 17, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  4. It seems to me that a significant difference here is the increased likelihood of making the playoffs and, therefore, the increased likelihood of getting a cut in postseason revenues. Shouldn’t that be factored in here?

    Comment by badenjr — June 17, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  5. Great article. Now maybe I’m wrong here, but doesn’t revenue jump hugely when a team makes the playoffs? So we need to not just talk about the $5 million the other AL east teams are losing by playing better teams, but the much larger amount of money they could be losing for not getting to the playoffs.

    Of course, this has only really been relevant for the Rays in recent years, who you acknowledge gain nothing from unbalanced schedules. Still, it seems that the difficulty in reaching the playoffs is a more important factor than the slightly harder schedule.

    Comment by Matt — June 17, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  6. Great article! The Rays can’t catch a break. Haha!

    Comment by Jonathan C. Mitchell — June 17, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  7. But… they will win more games. Doesn’t winning = money too?

    Comment by Telo — June 17, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  8. Orioles average attendance by year:

    1997 45,816
    1998 45,490
    1999 42,372
    2000 40,704
    2001 38,686
    2002 33,122
    2003 30,302
    2004 34,300
    2005 32,404
    2006 26,583
    2007 27,060
    2008 25,000
    2009 23,545
    2010 21,395

    Obviously it’s not entirely the fault of the Yankees & the Red Sox that they’ve sucked, and the Rays have shown what can be done. But getting the missing 20,000 back – through having more meaningful baseball further into the season, and less of a “perennial loser” image – would (eventually) more than offset the implied losses from losing me NYY/BOS fixtures, I think. The calculation might be very different for the Rays, though, and Toronto probably lie somewhere in between.

    Comment by Aaron — June 17, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  9. You didn’t consider the additional revenue from making the playoffs, though. Even with the unbalanced schedule, the AL Beast has often had three or four of the top five teams in the league. We know the marginal value of a win increases at the point of making the playoffs. Lowering where that bar is absolutely helps the Rays and Jays (and hopefully the Os before long).

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 17, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  10. the Rays have won 2 of 3 AL East titles….Boston and NY COMBINED have 1 of 3. So much for this sweating.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — June 17, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  11. Has anyone ever thought about this? 7 divisions with 4 teams and 1 with 2. Each division winner makes postseason, no wild card. The division with 2 teams is the Yankees and Red Sox. NL has 16 teams, AL has 14 teams. Move the White Sox to the AL East or Detroit and keep everything else the same.

    Do some kind of split in the NL where you have 4/4, maybe move the Rockies, Cards, Astros and Reds into one division and call it NL midwest or something, Pirates Brewers, Cards, Mets become central and Marlins, Phils, Nats, Braves stay in the East. West becomes DBacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres.

    Something has to be done about the Yankees/Red Sox. If they want to compete with each other and spend 300 million each fine but since 1998 one or both has been in postseason every single year – at least make it a guarantee that one will not be in postseason every year.

    Comment by Bret — June 17, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  12. I’m not a Yankees or Red Sox fan but you can’t just prevent one of the teams from going in because they’re too good. That’s insane.

    Comment by Mark — June 17, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  13. Some other comments have identified this article’s huge glaring problem: attendance and revenue figures may change after re-alignment. This is due both to higher attendance if the O’s, Jays, Rays (okay, maybe not the Rays) are actually in a heated playoff race. Plus, if they do make the playoffs, there’s that much additional revenue.

    This is a static model that needs to be dynamic to provide any real insights.

    Comment by JP — June 17, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  14. I believe the potential playoff appearances are accounted for in the $5M figure. You’d then have to look at the marginal value of a win – in 2011, a mariginal win for the Rays is more valuable than the Jays or Orioles since it is more likely to help them into the playoffs (i.e. more than $5M for the Rays, less for the Jays/Orioles).

    Over the longer term, the value of a marginal win will be higher for good/high-revenue teams – I’d guess better approximations could be made using specific details from the research that went into the $5M figure.

    Great article. Looks to me like the numbers come out about even – approx $10M in losses, with an extra win and some ancillary benefits. Plus some short-term gains from increased revenue for fans having a new opportunity to see teams in the opposite league.

    Comment by DannyG — June 17, 2011 @ 10:39 am

  15. I know it may not work out this way when the realignment is finalized, but the possibility of more interleague games has to be a factor as well. My understanding is that, generally, interleague games increase attendance, especially if the Rays host the Phillies for example. Now this may not hold true if there are more such games, meaning the spike may not be as sharp. but if instead of a 20% spike there are more frequent 10% spikes, that can still be an improvement for each team.

    Comment by DD — June 17, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  16. It isn’t that they are too good, they have too many natural resources. It would be like if you were born on an oil claim that provided you 10 million a year and I was born in the middle of the desert. You didn’t do anything smart or inventive to get there. Those two sell out every game because of the population and economy. Let them compete against each other, they both will have a fair competition and one is guaranteed in every year. It shouldn’t be automatic from now until forever that both make postseason but other than 2008 and 2010 it has been and even in those years one of the two made it.

    Comment by Bret — June 17, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  17. This idea is pretty out there. I don’t know whether it is more unrealistic or more insane. But I really like it. And it isn’t preventing one of them from going in because they’re too good, but because of their spending. Again, that is neither fair nor realistic, but this Jays fan would love to see Bud Selig suggest it, just to watch heads assplode.

    Comment by DannyG — June 17, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  18. Since the Jays have had a couple (or more) seasons where everyone figures they’d make the playoffs if they weren’t in this division, going into a series where opponents had to face Halladay two or three times seems like a welcome prospect as opposed to making an extra $4mill or whatever it worked out to.

    I’m pretty certain the Jays could actually have a national fundraiser to pay for that and blow it out of the water, because making the playoffs is worth far, far more to the Jays than $4mil.

    This really seems like a very bad way of thinking about it. Halladay would still be on the team, if it wasn’t for this crappy divisional situation. I bet you could raise a national fundraiser for that, too.

    Maybe you should reverse your entire article and do something like, “How much is it worth for the Blue Jays if they make the playoffs?”, pretty certain the number would be crazy. A Skydome sellout is what, 1.25mil on ticket sales alone? 50,000 * 25? You better believe it’d sell out, the Jays have MLBs biggest marketplace (the whole country) and everyone wants them to make it in.

    Comment by sc2gg — June 17, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  19. Look, we all know where this is going: it’s time to contract the Yankees and the Red Sox.

    Comment by mkd — June 17, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  20. This is an excellent point. There are so, so many variables in play when trying to cobble together an exercise like this that several are bound to be missed or omitted.

    Comment by Jonah Keri — June 17, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  21. Yes, this too. Absolutely.

    But this would be more a function of scrapping AL East than unbalanced schedule, which doesn’t seem to affect W-L all that much.

    Comment by Jonah Keri — June 17, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  22. Maybe I’m not thinking about this right, but it seems like the estimate of the extra income is overstated. Jonah multiplied the extra revenue for one game by 18, the total number of home games. But under a balanced schedule, they would only lose about eight of those games (if we figure ~ten games per team, so five at home against the Sox and five against the Yankees). So using this model, wouldn’t their revenues decrease by about half of what Jonah gave?

    Can someone please correct me if I’m wrong?

    Comment by Ben Hall — June 17, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  23. Don’t those revenue numbers assume that all of their games vs. the Yankees/Red Sox would be replaced by other teams? In reality only about half of them would be, so those numbers need to be cut in half. So then it’s about break even for the Jays/Orioles and significantly better for the Rays.

    Comment by Jono411 — June 17, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  24. beat me to it haha

    Comment by Jono411 — June 17, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  25. Yes, this should have been acknowledged. Agree 100%.

    Calculating what the hypothetical effect might be though would be extremely difficult, possibly impossible.

    Think of the current exercise as the most conservative possible scenario. I noted that there were multiple extenuating circumstances that would make scrapping AL East a big win for O’s and Jays already.

    Comment by Jonah Keri — June 17, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  26. Isn’t your thesis that realignment would negatively affect the revenue of the Jays/Os… yet you admit that this factor is legit (that an increase in probability of making the playoffs equals an increase of expected value/revenue), yet you then dismiss it?

    Comment by Telo — June 17, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  27. Yes, because we should only use the last 3 years to measure success. What a convenient cutoff.

    Comment by William — June 17, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  28. It’s not broke, don’t fix it.

    Except for putting 5 teams in each division, and having 1 interleague series at a time instead of a bunch all at once.

    Send Mil back to AL, either to the AL central and move one of those teams to the west, or send mil to AL west.

    Comment by joe — June 17, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  29. When you are in the midst of discussing realignment, you can’t just make the system work for the next ten years, but rather the next 50. While the Red Sox and Yankees do have a lot of natural resources currently, nobody knows what they are going to look like in the next 20 years. If you are trying to structure realignment to benefit particular teams, it could look really, really bad 10 years from now if the red sox are a .400 team, which is entirely possible (ownership of red sox could loose a lot of money: think mets). The yankees and red sox are NOT ALWAYS good (remember the 60s and 80s), so you have to structure this new system in a way assuming that most of the teams are the same, maybe giving the yankees a small boost due to their history, but not a dramatic one.

    Comment by William — June 17, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  30. The significance of those dollar amounts is mitigated whatever profit margins you can apply to ticket, food/drink, and merchandise sales. Those three are all likely very different, but unless these teams and their respective ball parks are running extremely efficient operations, these teams are at best seeing between 15-20% of that additional revenue. It’s still a significant profit, but it’s the difference between affording Jose Bautista on your roster, and Jose Molina.

    Comment by 81 — June 17, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  31. Have you paid any attention to the last several years of free agent signings? The best ones have nearly always been signed by NY or Boston. They may not be great every year, but as long they keep their current market size, they should have a chance to win it all every year.

    Comment by Bill — June 17, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  32. would we also make a special division for the astros and pirates to ensure that one of them gets to make it?

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — June 17, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  33. I’m a Red Sox fan living in Tampa. Ticket prices for Rays games double when the Sox or the Yankees are in town.

    Comment by insignificantwrangler — June 17, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  34. it’s entirely possible to spend a lot of money and still suck–the cubs have been working on an exhaustive proof of this theorem for years

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — June 17, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  35. I also don’t think you included the incremental costs of cleaning up after Yankees and Red Sox fans after the Rays games, which is probably substantial. Not that I’m saying the Yankees and Red Sox fans are pigs or anything, please don’t misinterpret me there, but you know how the Rays are all about the beautification of downtown St. Pete. You can see their positive influence everywhere you look on the way to Tropicana Field.

    The Rays are all about Community, and they make sure to let us fans know on a regular basis how disappointed they are with their attendance and fans not showing up to games in person. So you might need to check your attendance figures above again, because the Rays can’t actually be getting the third highest attendance in the American League East, can they? The Rays wouldn’t blame a national macroeconomic trend on the fans just to guilt trip an extra 1% of revenue from us would they? Please check your figures again, because Rays fans are constantly being bombarded with messages that make it seem like the Rays have the lowest attendance in baseball & based on that I seriously doubt that they could actually be bucking a national downward trend in attendance.

    Comment by JKB — June 17, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  36. The Jays would have made the playoffs multiple times over the last decade if they were in a different division. Heck, JP Ricciardi would have an entirely different legacy if that was the case.

    Comment by George — June 17, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  37. And the Rays have to battle against an economic system that almost ensures they will lose their top talent in coming years. Let’s see the Rays continue that success when they no longer get to grab players in the top 5 spots in the draft.

    I’m a Red Sox fan an I’d advocate for making a change. The current system has so many inequalities that its ruining my enjoyment of the game.

    Comment by insignificantwrangler — June 17, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  38. A better solution might be to adopt an NFL style central revenue sharing to balance the playing field. But that’s probably as unrealistic as what you propose.

    Comment by insignificantwrangler — June 17, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  39. The question for the Jays whether the added revenue from the extra Yankees/Red Sox games outweighs the potential revenues from playoff games (and the revenues from being in contention through September).

    I haven’t done the numbers, but I would wager that the Jays would make far more with a legitimate chance at the playoffs each year under a balanced schedule.

    Comment by George — June 17, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  40. This is the most asinine thing ever presented. You certainly cannot be serious.

    Comment by Neufeld — June 17, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  41. As an Orioles fan I can tell you if I am in existence only to fill out Boston and New York’s schedule just contract the Orioles now. No doubt they get a bump at the gate when those two all-star teams come in. Last game I went to at Camden Yards was a hot August day two years ago where the stadium was 80% Red Sox fans and I promise you this I will never sit through that again. So what is happening is an entire generation of home grown fans in Baltimore are now forever gone. There is nothing like growing up 10 minutes from your home town team and them being competitive and not just the man in the black mask so Hulk Hogan can pin him in three seconds. Since MLB is bottom line first and quality of product second we are stuck with what FOX & ESPN want, Red Sox & Yankees 365/24/7. So that kills any hope of dividing up the revenue 30 ways and let’s play 30 balanced teams. So outside of doing that I don’t want as an Oriole fan have to bear the burden of MLB, NYY, BOS greed year in and year out. If it means more travel for the players and less Band wagon fans money then so be it.

    Comment by Danny — June 17, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  42. What is being left out of the article and subsequent comments is the root cause of the issue. Realignment doesn’t fix the root cause. There are economic disparities between clubs, espectially the Yanks and Sox, that combined with the anti-trust exemption MLB enjoys and the CBA, leads to dramatically different opportunities from club to club. A team such as the Rays simply does not have the same tools at its disposal that the Yanks/Sox have. Until that is fixed, this is all noise.

    Comment by Dave — June 17, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  43. The Jays traditionally draw more fairweather fans when they are competitive. If they stand a chance to compete, the overall attendance should see an increase – after all they were the first team to draw 3million, and sold out the skydome for a ridiculous stretch.
    I think in the Jays case anyways, the increase in competitiveness would far outweigh the revenue generated from premium ticket sales.

    Comment by lexomatic — June 17, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  44. Further, we can assume that some of the middling attendance numbers that these teams put up in non-Sox/Yanks games is due to the fact that there is a perception that they have no shot of making the playoffs. Could the presence of the Yanks and Sox in the division be lowering interest in the teams on an absolute level? Makes sense to me. If you feel the decks are stacked against you, why would you follow that sport?

    Comment by jfcincotta — June 17, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  45. Can you imagine the hit the bottom line for MLB would take if BOS & NYY were at the bottom of the standings for half a decade? Bud would’t let this happen in a million years.

    Comment by Danny — June 17, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  46. This simply isn’t true. In the past three years, most of the top free agents did not sign with the Yankees or Red Sox: Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn (twice), Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Matt Holliday, Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe. In this time the Yankees signed (not including players that they re-signed) four big name free agents (Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett, and Soriano) and the Red Sox signed two (Lackey and Crawford). In addition, Burnett, Soriano, and Lackey have underperformed. The idea that “the best free agents always sign with the Yankees or Red Sox” is poppycock.

    Comment by Neufeld — June 17, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  47. I think the proposed scrapping of the divisions makes most sense. Letnthe jays and the orioles compete for a change.

    Comment by James — June 17, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  48. I’ll let the economists figure out what makes money, but I’ve come up with the best plan that makes sense on all fronts:

    No divisions.
    15 teams each. Arizona or Colorado moves to the AL (both leagues 7 east, 4 central, 4 mtn/pac
    Top 5 make the postseason.
    Shorten the season by a week, and play 6 day/night doubleheaders, played roughly every 3rd or 4th Saturday.
    Play 10 teams 11 games and 4 teams 10 games = 150 league games

    Play 12 interleague games. That would mean the entire baseball season would have 60 total interleague series. There would need to be either one or three series going on at all times. So they would play 3 series on five different weekends–that would account for 15 series. The other 45 series would be on the 20 other weekends and the 25 weekdays. There would have to be some overlap for one series to account for the all-star game, but it can be done.

    Also for interleague, make the middle game for each series the opposite league’s rules. It would keep a DH from sitting 3 days in a row, and it would only be six games out of the season a DH has to sit. It’s a compromise for the fans that like their team’s league rules.

    50 series total–
    With 25 weeks in the season, there would still be roughly 2 series per week.

    2-game: 4
    3-game: 36
    4-game: 4
    5-game: 6 (these series would have the day/night doubleheader, so they would be played over four days)

    Standings would be presented with all 15 teams, but the top 3 would be blocked off to show who is in the top 3; then the next two teams are blocked off to show who would be in the Play-In Series; and then the rest of the league.

    There would be three columns of standings: 5th, 3rd, and 1st–in that order. They would start with the 5th place column to show the least amount of games each team is from the playoffs. Right now, the Twins would be in 14th place but only 7 games out of a playoff spot–still in it.

    The spread from a 3rd place bye, and out of it in 6th is where the great races will come from each season. Nobody will want to settle for 4th or 5th place because they’ll have to play a best-of-three in the 4-seed’s park. The winner would move on to face the 1-seed.

    With a shortened regular season, the rest of the playoffs would be best-of-seven, and they can finish the World Series before November.

    This plan would seed the playoff teams in the right order regardless of geography, free the AL East teams that compete directly with the Yankees and Red Sox, play a balanced schedule that’s fair, and limit interleague play to its minimum without having to make the DH rule one or the other.

    It would take a little getting used to, but I think in time fans would like it. There’s no law that says they can’t go back to divisions if this format isn’t accepted, but I hope they try the “no divisions” plan for a year or two.

    Comment by NoDivisions — June 17, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  49. Toronto sees a nice bump when the Sox/Yanks are in town but the team needs to be a consistent winner for the multitude of fans to return. This is a city that used to get 55k+ every game in the early 90s.

    Comment by tdotsports1 — June 17, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  50. Money doesn’t ensure that you win – but it sure does make it easier to cover up mistakes (see John Lackey; J.D. Drew; Carl Pavano; Derek Jeter; A.J. Burnett). When a team like the Jays misses on a big contract (see Vernon Wells) it cripples their chances to compete until they get saved by the Angels.

    Like the Red Sox and Yankees, when the Cubs miss on a big contract (see Alfonso Soriano), they are still mentioned as possible suitors for big name players (ie, they have the money to hide mistakes) and are still competitive because of a weak division.

    In the last 15 years the Cubs have won an average of 78.87 games per year and made the playoffs 4 times. In that same stretch the Jays have won an average of 80.8 games and missed the playoffs each year.

    Comment by James Lewis — June 17, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  51. JP points out the articles huge glaring weakness: the absence of additional revenues from (presumably) more meaningful games.

    A division-less league with balanced schedules does not, imo, deliver a substantial number of meaningful games, though.

    I suggest MLB take a page from European sports leagues and introduce promotion and relegation. 15 teams per league, each league with three divisions: an elite, a mid-tier, and a third-tier. Teams will play imbalanced schedules, BUT three teams from the elite, 2 from the mid-tier, and 1 from the third-tier division make the playoffs. That is, anyone can make the playoffs in any year, but with a greater likelihood of making the playoffs based on the difficulty of one’s division/schedule in doing so.

    Further, the bottom two finishers in the elite and mid tier divisions are relegated down a division for the subsequent year, and replaced with the top two finishers in the mid-tier and third-tier divisions, respectively.

    This system creates WAY more interesting races, as teams are not only vying for a playoff spot but the ability to avoid relegation. Based on 2010’s finish, (simplistically using final winning percentage), here might be a look of the 2011 American League using current records (assuming Houston jumped)…

    Games out of playoff spot
    BOS** 41 27 0.603
    NYY** 39 28 0.582
    TB** 36 33 0.522
    TEX* 36 34 0.514 0.5
    MIN* 28 39 0.418 7

    DET** 38 31 0.551
    TOR** 34 35 0.493
    CHW* 33 37 0.471 1.5
    LAA* 33 37 0.471 1.5
    OAK* 30 40 0.429 4.5

    CLE** 36 31 0.537
    SEA* 35 34 0.507 2
    BAL* 31 35 0.470 4.5
    KC* 30 39 0.435 7
    HOU 25 45 0.357 12.5

    The teams with asterisks have something to play for, be it a playoff spot or the avoidance of relegation or the pursuit of promotion. The teams with two asterisks would be in the playoffs under this system if the playoffs started today.

    Pros: way more meaningful games, even among teams with no hope of the playoffs. Meaningful games mean ticket sales. We give any team that can win a chance to get in the same division as the NYY or BOS; today this would take an act of Congress to pull it off.

    Unless you’re basically mathematically eliminated from the lowest-tier division, you have meaningful games. And if you’re mathematically eliminated from the lowest tier, you have bigger problems as an organization anyway.

    Cons: I have diluted the playoffs from 4 to 6 entrants, which purists won’t like. Also, travel is less strictly regional.

    Questions or comments, reply or drop me an email.

    Comment by Tom L. — June 17, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  52. Not quite. Lower box seats for the Red Sox series in July is $70 vs $40 for the Blue Jays series. Outfield seats are $27 and $17.

    Comment by cobradc23 — June 17, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  53. That didn’t copy from Excel very well. The number after the winning percentage is games out of the playoffs. If there is no number, then they’re in the playoffs.

    The teams that would be in the playoffs as of today would be…

    BOS* 41 27 0.603
    NYY* 39 28 0.582
    TB* 36 33 0.522

    DET* 38 31 0.551
    TOR* 34 35 0.493

    CLE* 36 31 0.537

    Comment by Tom L. — June 17, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  54. It’s certainly not a fair plan, but at least it makes the regular season more interesting for NY and BOS fans. Both fan bases view the regular season as a coronation. Not consciously, but that attitude rears its head through the outrage and disbelief when either team somehow doesn’t make the playoffs. Imagine how intense the rivalry would get if each fan base knew the loser of the season series likely wouldn’t be playing in october.

    Comment by Jon S — June 17, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  55. One addition
    i would balance the interleague schedule ie 1st in the AL from the previous year is set to play a series against the 1st place finisher from the NL and 15th would play 15th etc… kind of like how the NFL schedules its non division games
    What you would want to avoid is the Yankees having they’re 3 series against the Pirates, Astros and Dbacks
    or like the Jays this year StL, Phi, Atl, Cin

    Ever wonder why it seems like the Pats and Colts play every year even though they’re not in the same division ? For one it creates a marquee match up and two it keeps things balanced

    Comment by Beaster — June 17, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  56. It seems to me that while the cost of a win may still be $5M, the revenue value of a win is much less in the AL East than in the other divisions since the marginal playoff odds increase is so much lower until you get well above 90 wins.

    Comment by Rick — June 17, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  57. Well, top 5 teams will certainly ensure that no Boston or New York kid ever has to grow up with the tragedy of a year when their team is not in the post season.

    Comment by Blue — June 17, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  58. Ripken had an impact on those numbers as well. He ended the streak in 1998 (-3,100 fans) and retired after the 2001 season (-5,550).

    As for 2006 (-6,000), that was the year Jockey purchased advertising rights to the entire warehouse facade and showcased a photo of present-day Jim Palmer, eight stories tall, stroking a bearskin rug in his tighty-whities.

    In all seriousness . . .
    – The weird courthouse steroid denial thing broke in March 2005 and Palmeiro and Sosa were Orioles at the time. Both guys crapped the bed that season and skulked away from the game thereafter.

    – Miguel Tejada, at the front end of a lucrative long-term deal with the O’s, was in the next wave of steroid targets.

    – The dueling giants of the AL East were spending loads of cash to improve upon their 95-win seasons. – Meanwhile, the O’s did nothing to improve a pitching staff anchored by the likes of Daniel Cabrera and Sidney Ponson.

    – By May 7th of the 2006 season, the O’s were all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after being swept by the Red Sox for the 2nd time that season. The Orioles were 14-19. The Red Sox were 19-12. The Yankees were 18-11.

    – Fork in back.

    Comment by Choo — June 17, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  59. I’d actually like to go completely, 100% balanced. Every team in baseball plays every other team in a home-and-home series of 3 games. No divisions, no leagues. Each team plays 174 games and the best W-L record is crowned the champ. It would be similar to how it works in the Premier League.

    Comment by Gabe — June 17, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  60. What of the DH?

    No playoffs?

    Why am I showing up in Oakland again? To see if the As can catch the Padres for 22nd place?

    Comment by Tom L. — June 17, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  61. As a Jays fan, I’d say that the Jays would be raking in a helluva lot more money if they were remotely in a playoff race every year, instead of barely ever in it.

    Comment by everdiso — June 17, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  62. This is pretty ridiculous imo… I’m a Jays fan so i can only speak about my team

    the Jays have had a good team for most of the second half of the last decade but have nothing to show for it. With a balanced schedule and realignment, the Jays would have been much more competitive. A competitive Jays team with a realistic chance of making the playoffs always draws crowds to Rogers Centre. The boost in attendance that the Jays can get being in the race the whole year would dwarf the revenue lost by taking away 8 games against the Yankees and RedSox

    Comment by James — June 17, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  63. DH would be in effect for every team. I’m not sure why people want to see pitchers hitting anyway. I mean quarterbacks used to play safety as well but no one seems to be ruing the demise of two-way football.

    And yes, no playoffs.

    No one shows up in Oakland under the current setup, so what’s the difference?

    I just want the best team in a year to be crowned the champion, and this is the setup that would make it easiest to measure one team against another.

    Comment by Gabe — June 17, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  64. No, interleague games do not increase attendance. Interleague games are set up to be on premium weekends so Bud Light can pretend his brainchild is good and special.

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 17, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  65. Uniformity of pitchers hitting or the DH would be best without separate leagues. I’d prefer an 8-man lineup myself…

    Anyway, I pitched a promotion/relegation scheme to mirror Premier League. I just don’t see fans of even high-attendance teams showing up to cheer on their team to 22nd place.

    I do see fans of teams showing up to support a chase to avoid relegation, though.

    Comment by Tom L. — June 17, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  66. I just want to make a couple semi-relevant comments.

    Until 2008 when the Rays gained their extra 2%, the AL West, more often than not had a better out-of-division record than the AL East.

    As for the realignment, I do think the human aspect needs to be addressed as well, and not just the parity issue. I have to believe, though I have no statistical evidence, that the constant travel has to effect a players’ performance. Having divisions does reduce travel, and I believe player fatigue.

    With that said, I’m personally a fan of reducing both leagues to two divisions with the two division winners, then the next two best records make it, regardless of division. With the inherent randomness in the game, I don’t want to see the playoffs expanded.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — June 17, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  67. The AL West had for a better out-of-division record than the AL East since 2001 that should say.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — June 17, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  68. In Seattle, ticket prices increase a flat $5 when the Yankees and Red Sox are in town.

    Comment by nate — June 17, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  69. This is precisely the problem. Realignment, while possibly a worthwhile goal, will not help balance competitiveness, nor should it be used as a tool to attempt to do so.

    Comment by Lyle — June 17, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  70. I don’t think the Red Sox are that much of a problem. Their payroll isn’t so much higher than some other teams and they are where they are because they are an extremely well run club. They are also a bit hamstrung by Fenway. They can’t possibly leave that stadium but I’m sure they’d love to have a new stadium with greater capacity and more corporate boxes.

    The Yankees are a complete joke though, they can make mistake after mistake and paper over it with yet more expensive free agent signings. MLB needs to move another team into New York to cut into their market a bit (of course this will never happen, we can screw Baltimore but not the precious Yankees).

    Comment by Anon — June 17, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  71. I would advocate two 7 team divisions in the AL (8 in the NL). With the increased number of teams, I think you still can keep an unbalanced schedule as the impact wouldn’t be slightly diluted than it currently is (7 teams v 5 teams per division). Keeping 4 playoff teams per league makes in entirely possible that 3 teams from a division would make the playoffs. While this mitigates the importance of winning division, that problem already exists. This solution seems really simple as well, though likely necessites the end of interleague play.

    Comment by sometimes — June 17, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  72. More revenue sharing, salary cap and minimum, change the broadcast rights to here companies negotiate through the league instead of team by team so that you ensure more teams get exposure. Hard cap on the draft slots.

    Those would definately help. I know people say “salary cap and minimum don’t really help” which to an extent is true, but I don’t think you’re really punishing the Yankees if you make the cap like 170 million and the floor 70 million. That’s pretty reasonable. Then work it down a bit.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 17, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  73. Texas moves to NL?

    Comment by Brad — June 17, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  74. Those are the answers, however, we know that the MLBPA (the strongest union in the country) will never allow a salary cap to happen.

    Comment by Sox2727 — June 17, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  75. Where’s the obligatory Albert Belle reference???

    You guys are slipping. Seriously.

    Comment by Chris Truby — June 18, 2011 @ 2:19 am

  76. Division W/L Differential:

    ALE: +24
    NLE: +14
    NLW: -6
    ALW: -7
    ALC: -11
    NLC: -14

    Division Run Differential:

    ALE: +141
    NLE: +51
    ALW: -9
    NLW: -24
    NLC: -67
    ALC: -92

    Comment by everdiso — June 18, 2011 @ 4:00 am

  77. Your analysis misses one HUGE point, one that matters more – both in monetary and competitive terms – than those you do consider. The playoffs. The problem with being in the AL East isn’t just playing 12 extra games against the Yanks and Sox, it’s that you have to have a better record than at least one of those teams to have a shot at the playoffs. Even just having a shot at the playoffs will draw in tons of money, and actually making the playoffs would draw even more. This wouldn’t matter much from the O’s perspective, but the Rays and Jays would have been perrenial contenders in any other division the past few years.

    Comment by jordan — June 18, 2011 @ 5:36 am

  78. Two more points, to those of you in favor of expanding the playoffs. First, if that happens, MLB should also push back the trade deadline. Adding playoff teams without pushing back the deadline would increase demand for, and decrease supply of, major-league talent at the deadline.

    Second, expanding the playoffs is a terrible idea from a competitive standpoint. Baseball already has the flukiest playoffs of any sport, in this sense: the ratio of regular season length to playoff series length (162 to 5 in the 1st round, then 7) is higher than it is in any other sport. Meaning that relative to the regular season, a baseball playoff series is a smaller sample size than a basketball, football, or hockey series. Expanding the playoffs would just make things worse. Should a barely-above-.500 team really be given the chance to eliminate a 100+ win team by winning a 5 or 7 game series? If anything in the baseball playoffs should be expanded, it’s the length of the series. Make the first round 7 games, and the rest 9.

    Comment by jordan — June 18, 2011 @ 5:46 am

  79. Screw Baltimore? You are referring to the Nats?
    Ever heard of Walter Johnson?
    We were here first, hon.
    Angelos has the t.v. rights to both MLB teams, which is still the single
    greatest ripoff in sports.

    Comment by Nyger Morgan — June 18, 2011 @ 6:21 am

  80. Jordan–that’s why they should go to no divisions, play a balanced schedule, and seed the teams in the right order. Yes, a 5-seed team would have 84-87 wins, and a 4-seed may be slightly more, but they would still have to beat the 1-seed to get to the LCS.

    The AL played a balanced schedule from 1979-1993, and if they were all stacked as one, the 1987 Twins would have been the 5-seed. So if you’re worried about the 5th best team winning a pennant or World Series, it already happened.

    Comment by NoDivisions — June 18, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  81. I think going to a 5th playoff team makes the divisional alignment factor for making the post season very small. It is a rare thing indeed where 4 teams in the AL East are better than anyone in the other 2 divisions.

    Comment by doug K — June 18, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  82. Expanding to 5 teams in the playoffs pretty much eliminates this value. Now, what division you come from is pretty irrelevant as it would be a rare year where 4-5 AL East teams are better than all 9 AL teams from the Central and West.

    Comment by doug K — June 18, 2011 @ 8:20 am

  83. Agreed, about Jays fans.
    also a slight correction – they were the first team to 4 million.

    Comment by davicio — June 18, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  84. My plan would be:

    1. Move the Astros.
    2. Keep the divisions as is with 5 teams each.
    3. Go halfway with balancing the league schedules, structure the interleague imbalance better:
    – Division games: 7 home, 7 away each opp (16 series total) = 56 games
    – League games: 4 home, 4 away each opp (20 series total) = 80 games
    – Interleague “rival”: 3 alternating home games each year (1 series) = 3 games
    – Interleague by last year’s rank: 3 games each opp (1st plays the three 1st place teams, 2nd v 2nd, etc., 3 series) = 9 games
    – Interleague rotating division: 7 home, 7 away split against four opps (4 series) = 14 games
    Total (44 series: 30 x 4 games, 14 x 3 games, 22wk season) = 162 games
    4. Increase playoffs to six teams ranked as follows:
    a. Top two division winners get byes.
    b. 3rd division winner and top wild card team get best-of-3 series ALL AT HOME against 5th and 6th place teams. 3rd division winner is guaranteed a home series, but the top wild card can get #3 seed based on record.
    c. Reshuffle seeding after 3-game wild card round so that top overall seed hosts the worst remaining record (regardless of whether they were a division winner or wild card).
    d. 2nd seed gets home field advantage in their league semifinals regardless of records.
    e. Division has no bearing on seeding anymore.

    – Increase to 26 interleague games is not so big of a step, plus it provides plenty of series to fill the whole season with daily interleague matchups.
    – Only 24 extra division games, otherwise league schedule is balanced.
    – Retains 4-game and 3-game series structure.
    – Encourages parity by matching 1st v 1st and last v last in 9 interleague games.
    – Keeps “rivalry” interleague games, but cuts them in half to alternating schedule. For the meaningful (NY, Chi, LA, etc) matchups, both teams’ fans can reasonably attend at either location anyway.
    – Jockeying for postseason position has great meaning top to bottom. Top seed gets worst league semifinal opponent. 2nd seed gets a bye and home field advantage in 2nd round. 3rd and 4th seeds get 3-game home series for wild card round. 5th and 6th seeds get in. It’s much more likely that intriguing baseball will be played for all these teams well into September.
    – With six playoff slots, it’s essentially impossible for any team to be left out because of divisional imbalance.

    Comment by Dan — June 18, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  85. Some problems here…

    22-week season is 154 days. That’s 162 games in 154 days, with no off days…back to the drawing board.

    6 playoff teams is too many. 5 is perfect, and the reason why they’re considering moving a team to the AL in the first place. They want 5 of 15, which is the top 1/3 of the league. If they go to six, it becomes a participation ribbon.

    Even though I want No Divisions, I did come up with something for a Divisional format. If I’m going to lose the fight for no divisions, they better do the next best thing. Here it is:

    You play your own divison teams 15 games each. Either 7 home/8 away or 8 home/7 away. 60 games total.

    You play the other 10 teams in your league 9 games. Either 6 home/3 away or 3 home/6 away. It alternates year-to-year. 90 games total.

    You play 12 interleague games. Keep it to a minimum. Play the regional rival only one series, and three other teams. It’s hard to have a formula to schedule these equally because schedules for the following season are being worked on during the current season. But common sense would be not to play the Yankees and Red Sox in the same year for an NL team. With only 4 series, it’s not a glaring problem with strength of schedule. (read my previous post for the way to schedule these series throughout the season.)

    Series Breakdown (50 series in 25 weeks):
    2-game: 2 (you need these for “squeeze week”)
    3-game: 34
    4 games in 4 days: 8
    4 games in 3 days: 6 day/night doubleheaders
    (shorten the season to 25 weeks is a must to accomodate for a best-of three Play-In Series for the two wildcard teams).

    Then the playoffs are the same as they are now, but with the Division Series best-of-7.

    Comment by NoDivisions — June 18, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  86. Responsive to the attendance numbers… while I’m sure that the Yankees, in particular, are going to be a draw in Florida, no analysis of any attendance numbers anywhere is complete without running numbers on comparative weekend/weekday attendance AND running numbers on comparative school-in/school-out numbers… ie, the NYY @ TB might be a big draw for the Rays, but it STILL DOES matter how many games are played Fri-Sun as opposed to Mon-Thu, as well as Jun-Aug as opposed to Apr, May and Sep.

    Comment by rTODDc — June 18, 2011 @ 12:47 pm


    “A Flash movie presentation from a Texas college professor that outlines a thoughtful, coherent plan for how the Commissioner of Baseball, MLB owners and players can resolve some of their most confounding issues: (1) realignment; (2) competitive integrity issues such as the big market/small market disparity and the specious dilemma of the designated hitter rule; and (3), how to raise and maintain high fan interest over the course of a 162-game regular season plus, what is currently, a post-season that pushes into cold November.”

    This obviously isn’t a proposal dreamed up in 15 minutes… it is thorough and well-conceived, satisfying that logical side of the brain.

    I implore everyone to recognize just how much is right with this plan. It is vastly superior to anything else being talked about right now because it

    (1) Deals with the reality of 30 teams…

    (2) Places every team, not just 27, 28 or 29, in a division where they are historically and geographically well-suited…

    (3) Resolves a situation in which about 20 of 30 teams end up with a really lousy August and September… arguably only reducing that to “just” lousy as opposed to “really” lousy, but nonetheless, it’s a net-plus… and

    (4) Expands all that is fun about September pennant chases to be the state-of-play for not only September, but backing up into August, and into July(!).

    What’s proposed here is nothing short of a 162-game gauntlet…an enhanced one, at that, compared to the gauntlet we currently have in MLB…

    That is, because unlike what we currently have, under this Coherent Restructuring concept, teams can’t just be exceptionally good for a couple of months of the season and squeak into the playoffs…

    No, they have to be good enough in Apr-Jul… then good enough in Aug… then good enough in Sep… and only then do they make the playoffs.

    As one of the fans suggested in the quotes part of the Flash movie, many fans just need some time to get comfortable with some of the concepts… given a few hours or days or weeks, it sinks into both sides of the mind, the logical and the emotional…

    And especially once the emotional walls come down, forgive the mixing metaphors, but the rest of the process is a piece of cake…

    That is, I’ve been reading, perhaps like anyone else, realignment ideas and other ideas for healing MLB ills for years… but never have I seen a concept like this that is so rational, pragmatic, and that raises the game’s appeal.

    Comment by rTODDc — June 18, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  88. “It isn’t that they are too good, they have too many natural resources”

    Then we should add the Cubs, Mets, White Sox, Tigers, etc to that division, because they’ve all got markets bigger than Boston.

    Comment by RC — June 18, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  89. Whats the problem with that? Why should we send shitty teams to the playoffs?

    Comment by RC — June 18, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  90. “Should a barely-above-.500 team really be given the chance to eliminate a 100+ win team by winning a 5 or 7 game series?”

    The dvisions ensure that already happens every year. (well, not a 100+ win team, but a 95+ win team)

    Comment by RC — June 18, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  91. This article is just number salad.

    Comment by john — June 18, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  92. The Rays have won 1 of the last 1 AL East titles… Boston and NY COMBINED have 0 of 1!

    Comment by jrogers — June 18, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  93. Yeah, sure didn’t picture the 22-week scenario very well. It would have to stretch out to 25 weeks. I don’t see a problem once that’s done.

    I like the 6-team playoff count because it’s reasonable for four teams from one division to rank in the top five as schedules are balanced more.

    Comment by Dan — June 18, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  94. That’s definitely the best argument: the money coming in from Jays’ playoff runs would offset Mr. Keri’s stats about loss of income from Sox/Yankees games. Hockey fans in Toronto are rather bored from April to June — not that I would know.

    That being said, I don’t mind playing the Sox and Yankees 26 times total (the Jays were .500 total against these two last year). I just hate how there’s no possible way given the playoff system. Do we need each division winner to make the playoffs? Can we not just take the top four teams in the league, holistically? Be kind – this comment comes from a dark, sorrowful place know as the middle-class of the AL East.

    Comment by Kelly Gruber's Soul — June 18, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  95. *36

    Comment by Kelly Gruber's Soul — June 18, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  96. And they get in the playoffs every year no matter what, even if they suck? That’ll be great for baseball. They just have to be a little better than the other, stocking up all the additional profit, and hope they catch lightning in a bucket in October.

    Comment by André — June 18, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  97. As long as we have revenue sharing, one has to balance the cost of revenue gained vs revenue sharing dollars lost. Maybe the Rays do not want to be in a playoff race every year.

    Comment by pft — June 19, 2011 @ 3:26 am

  98. Pretty sure that’s happened, actually. Yanks, Sox, Rays, and Jays were 4 of the 5 best teams in the AL at least once in the past few years, by 3rd order wins.

    Comment by jordan — June 19, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  99. I agree with everything in here except expanding the playoffs. Those changes are needed to correct a serious problem that already exists, not to mitigate other changes that exacerbate that problem.

    Comment by jordan — June 19, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  100. I’m all for getting rid of divisions, just not expanding the playoffs.

    Comment by jordan — June 19, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  101. Don’t ticket jumps like this really just steal guests from other games? People may choose to buy tickets for the Rays-Yankees game instead of a different game, but that fan might just buy a ticket for a different game if that matchup wasn’t an option

    Comment by Christian — June 19, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  102. Most hilarious post i’ve seen in a while

    Comment by Theodore — June 19, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

  103. if you break it down to percentages playing the 18 games against division foes is less a percent of schedule than NFL, NBA, or NHL

    Comment by greg — June 19, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

  104. I’m all for evening out the divisions (putting the Astros into the AL West, for instance) but am not a fan of eliminating the divisions. Divisions create rivalries between specific teams because they are fighting for a one-in-four/five/six spot; eliminate the divisions and the rivalries become less important.

    If I were an Orioles fan I would want the divisions to go away, but for the rest of us, a lack of divisions sounds a lot less fun.

    Comment by Erik — June 20, 2011 @ 12:00 am

  105. Wins gained are exactly that. There is no changing of hands/conversion. Money on the other hand goes through conversion and the conversion is not a mathematical system. Rather, it goes through people; greedy, selfish people. If these revenue gulping teams at the bottom of the barrel are any indication, money gained will not automatically committed to salary and the MLB does not seem to have a solution to this problem in sight so I would say a win gained in statistics is much more valuable than a win gained in cash.

    Comment by David — June 20, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  106. I like the article but I think your missing the point of realignment. It’s not about helping the teams in the AL East. Getting rid of the divisions and having two 15 team divisions is about fairness. The Rays, Jays and O’s would benefit competitively by having a better chance of making the playoffs. Likewise other teams would get the economic benefit of hosting more games against the Red Sox and Yankees.

    Comment by Preston — June 20, 2011 @ 1:12 am

  107. Don’t you think the worn-off novelty from a new ballpark has something to do with this decline?

    Comment by AJS — June 20, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  108. Boston’s market includes all of New England (less part of CT). That puts it ahead of some of the other cities you mention, not to mention that the Cubs and Met have to share their markets (something the Red Sox don’t need to do).

    Comment by AJS — June 20, 2011 @ 1:54 am

  109. NFL has long allowed in 6 teams (now of 16, but it used to be less). No one complains about that.

    Comment by AJS — June 20, 2011 @ 2:04 am

  110. Agreed, largest market for sure, add in that the Owners of the team also own the broadcast rights and the channels they are broadcast on and the cable company that people watch the games on, and they televise every single game to every Canadian, we are by far the biggest market. $4 mil is nothing for a company that reports over 4 billion in profits last year. The Jays want out of the AL east and getting rid of the division is clearly the best thing.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS85 — June 20, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  111. WOW! 70-170mil that seems High, so much for having young teams with players who make the minimum, every team will be required to have overpaid vererans. Vernon Wells would be in high demand again. A hard cap on draft slots also hurts the league, as we will lose top talent to other professional sports and to university. I know I do not want to pay for another hike in ticket prices to see the Jays lose in the AL east just so they can make the minimum salary.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS85 — June 20, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  112. I do not think it would be as rare as you think. Expanding to 5 teams still does not fix that the Jays and Rays play extra games against the Red Sox and Yankees and against each other. No team except (NY, BOS,Tampa, and TOR) had a winning record vs the AL east last season and that included us having Baltimore in a down year. Heck even Baltimore had a winning record vs the AL west. We will not really know what a balanced schedule will do until Bud grows a pair and trys it out. Or I guess they could pay a stats guy to run simulations on the last 10 seasons and see what would have happened.
    My thoughts are either CAP the salaries or balance the schedule, both will help the league.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS85 — June 20, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  113. I watched it and I whole heartedly do NOT agree with this format. No fan is going to care about a team competing for a “bronze” or “silver” medal. You will now have teams that are actually eliminated by the end of July with literally no chance for a come back. Why would players even try in August/September if they are actually eliminated. You would never have a team that can go on a tear in August/September and make a push because they are already relegated to the bronze series. Fans will not pay to see a bad team play another bad team and attendance would be lucky to hit 10,000 in most mlb stadiums.

    Now an injury to your star player that keeps them out for a month ruins 25% of your season. Trades will have to be made by June if you want to compete, or there will be players trading like crazy come July 30th. It will become know as Fire Sale day. This format also rewards a team for having a good first half of the season with a cake walk of an august and september.
    Not all baseball diamonds are single purpose and are used for other events, the Skydome in Toronto is used for Concerts, CFL and NFL football, Monster Truck rallies, Dirt bike racing, Trade shows, and UFC fights, and all of this has to be scheduled well in advance.
    This system does not really address the competitive imbalance that NY and BOS have as now the Blue Jays are the only one competing against them and they still have to play eachother more times a year which to them is also not fair.
    There was a lot of thought put into this model but it will never happen, a relegation and promotion suggest by someone much earlier in the comments would happen before this ever would.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS85 — June 20, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  114. I think I noted this earlier, but I think it would be interesting if we could take this same idea and quantify how much divisional rivalries are worth (Dodgers-Giants, Yanks-Sox, Cubs-Cardinals) to certain franchises. Would we want to replace Giants-Dodgers with more Giants-Pirates? I wouldn’t think players, fans, or ownership would appreciate that.

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