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  1. Damn Pere Ubu! I knew there was a reason I liked this site.

    Comment by GT — June 16, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  2. Actually, the Pirates right now are over .500 and only four games back. They are, strange though it seems, in the race at the moment. Neither here nor there.

    What I had to say on the subject was (quoting myself! I’m a big deal!):

    “Rockies fans can be interested in the team — they’ve had a rough start, but, hell, they’re still in third! Only five games out, right? In the ‘divisionless’ NL, they’d be eleventh. And everyone would stop paying attention.”

    I wrote that a few days ago, so the exact numbers have doubtless shifted, but the point remains. I suspect this plan would absolutely murder middle-of-the-pack teams or teams (like the Rockies) that had an early run of bad luck. And as Jeff Passan himself wrote in his initial article (last year):

    “Had there been no divisions in the 15 years since baseball went to three divisions, the NL playoff schedule would have changed seven times and the AL’s five.”

    So, really, what’s the point? The risks and potential damage to teams is huge, and the alleged benefits barely exist.

    Comment by Darien — June 16, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  3. The biggest problem I have with no divisions is the lack of games against teams in your league. Most fans will not be happy with only 6 games against league opponents.

    Best solution? Eliminate interleague games.

    11 games against League mates= 154 games.

    Shorter season, expanded playoffs and no “good” teams missing the playoffs.

    Or we could always go the college football route and have weekly polls instead of standings. Have baseball writers pick the 2 best teams at the end of the season to compete for all the Tostitos.

    Comment by Jason W — June 16, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  4. Believe me, if the Pirates stay over .500 and in the hunt all year, I will be jumping with joy and clicking my heels. But I’ve seen them start fast and then hit a wall over the summer too many times — it seemed like that was a particular specialty of Lloyd McClendon’s teams. I hope this time is different.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  5. Passan believes that it is inevitable that one team will move from the NL to the AL, making 15 teams in each league. Interleague play, therefore, is also inevitable.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  6. Well DUH! to me for failing reading comprehension! I gotta stop drinking in the afternoon!

    Comment by Jason W — June 16, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  7. I haven’t really heard anyone talk about this, but what about this new realignment plan expanding to 2 divisions in each league rather than the current 3 or the proposed 1? That seems like it would be a good middle ground with almost all of the issues.

    Comment by Joshsaysgomo — June 16, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  8. You run into the same problem of having an uneven number of teams in different divisions.

    Comment by Gert — June 16, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  9. McClendon never had a team over .500 this late, though; the last time the Pirates were at .500 this late in the season was in 1999, I think.

    (That said, I don’t really expect them to stay over .500, especially since the catcher and third base position are basically wads of spackle at the moment and the pitchers are cooling down some.)

    Comment by matt w — June 16, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  10. two divisions in each league would mean two 8 team divisions and two 7 team divisions, so you would still have the problem of some teams having to beat less teams in the standings to finish first. Also if you have the top 5 teams in one division, that means that at least one of them does not make the playoffs – probably 2 since I would assume that the top 2 teams in each division make the playoffs.

    Comment by jimiu — June 16, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  11. Two important aspects that I think this article misses, is that teams will be hesitate to adopt this new format because it will mean increased travel (and thus expense) for East and West coast teams especially and the fans will miss the division rivalries.

    Comment by MB — June 16, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  12. What needs to happen is expansion, with 2 teams going to the AL. Then, make two divisions in each league, with the division leaders in each league getting a by. Then implement 4 wildcards in the NL and AL, and structure the playoffs like the NFL. This solves the problem of revenue and scheduling, gives teams incentive to finish first, gives teams more opportunity to make the playoffs, while keeping balance and competitiveness of the leagues. The big problem is getting 2 more teams, and it would be kind of awkward if the AL east had 7 teams going to the playoffs and the AL west had 1

    Comment by William — June 16, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  13. make the playoffs a series of course, unlike the NFL 1 game format. The playoffs could get lengthy, however

    Comment by William — June 16, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  14. It doesn’t address the DH or interleague issue (which I hate), but the other question is how do you keep teams that clinch a playoff spot in September from tanking it for 2-3 weeks at the end of the season? No one wants to see a Spring Training lineup when playoff fever should be at it’s peak.
    Why not have two divisions with 6 teams from each division making the playoffs. Teams 3-6 (4 total) would play a one game playoff against each other (3 vs. 6; 4 vs 5) with the winners playing 1 and 2. The division winner (1), would get to pick which team they want to play in the first round, seven games. Now that would be exciting, and no one would tank it. To have a chance to just get into the playoffs is big, and you’d throw your ace out there in that one game all-or-nothing game. Make it less likely that “wild card” teams win it all, but puts then in Cinderella territory.

    Comment by Trey — June 16, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

  15. I’m very curious to see a plot wins from the start of the season to the end. Someone said that the Rockies would be victimized by a slow start… I remember when the D-Backs got off to a scorching start in ’08, only to eventually be caught by the heroics of a pregnant Manny Ramirez. If baseball is truly a grind, lets see them freaking grind and not hide behind a weak division (cough… Angels).

    Comment by game6ers — June 16, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  16. I have an idea, although I admit I only spent about 5 minutes thinking about it so there may be holes, please point them out if you see them.

    Switch the series from mostly 3 games to mostly 5 games like the minor leagues. I like this idea for 2 reasons, 1) it cuts down on travel days which will help offset increased travel because of a balanced schedule, 2)I like the idea of teams having to face every one of another teams pitchers in a single series (which makes me think also helps balance schedules).

    Now each team would play one home and one away series with every other team in their league = 140 games

    The other 22 games would come from interleague, with three 4-game series and two 5-game series. Stealing the NFLs idea here, have the top 5 AL teams vs the top 5 NL teams from the previous years standings, 6-10vs6-10, 11-15vs11-15.

    This would make the season 28 series long, and (quick math… (30*5)/2) 75 interleague series would be played, meaning on any given day, there are 2 or 3 interleague series going on throughout the season, but teams don’t play too many more interleague games than they do now.

    Comment by PearlDrumBum — June 16, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  17. The fairness argument has a huge hole in it. If you have a 15 team no-division league, every team plays substantially the same schedule. If that’s the case, then FAIRNESS dictates that ONLY the team with the best record advances to the World Series against the other team’s champion.

    It’s fundamentally unfair to put 5 teams that played identical schedules into a playoff tournament, so that a 101 win team has to win a series against a team that won 86.

    Comment by Candlestick Parker — June 16, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  18. This is where real-world economics intrude. Too many teams are on shaky financial footing for baseball to feel comfortable bringing two more into the world.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  19. Trey, that often happens now, when a team clinches its division early. They start playing their September callups more and resting their starters. That’s hardly a change from the current system.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  20. Playoffs are always unfair — but they’re unfair because of the greater influence of luck, not because of the structural imbalance of the division format. We have them because they’re exciting, and they bring in a lot more revenue than the regular season. I don’t mean to be glib or cynical, but it’s the truth. You could end the season after 162 games and simply declare the team with the most wins to be the world champion, but that would feel hugely anticlimactic.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  21. I found this ideas first hole. It doesnt allow for 81 home and 81 away games. I suppose you could split one of the 4game interleague series up into two 2 game series

    Comment by PearlDrumBum — June 16, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  22. Add two more teams – total of 32 teams – 16 per league. No inter-league play.
    Have four divisions in each league. The eight 1st place teams go to the playoffs.
    Set up each division to include the closest geographic areas to create and maintain close rivalries. These 4 teams play more games against each other (less travel).

    All rules the same for both leagues (NO DH)

    Each team would play the other 3 teams in their division 22 times (66 games)
    Teams would play all other league teams 8 times (96 games)

    Leagues would be set up as follows:

    American League:

    Baltimore Orioles
    New York Yankees
    New York Mets
    Toronto Blue Jays

    Texas Rangers
    Houston Astros
    St. Louis Cardinals
    Kansas City Royals

    Seattle Mariners
    Oakland Athletics
    San Francisco Giants
    Portland (Expansion Team)

    Detroit Tigers
    Milwaukee Brewers
    Minnesota Twins
    Colorado Rockies

    National League:

    Boston Red Sox
    Philadelphia Phillies
    Pittsburgh Pirates
    Washington Nationals

    Florida Marlins
    Tampa Bay Rays
    Atlanta Braves
    Charlotte (Expansion team)

    Arizona Diamondbacks
    Los Angeles Angels
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    San Diego Padres

    Chicago Cubs
    Chicago White Sox
    Cincinnati Reds
    Cleveland Indians

    Comment by Johnny — June 16, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  23. Once we’re adding playoff teams, what’s wrong with how the NFL used to do it?

    15 teams per league, three divisions per league. Division winners make the playoffs, along with top 3 wildcards.

    Teams play un-balanced schedules, but make up for it with interleague games (i.e. the Jays and Orioles would get weaker interleague opponents to make up for their tough division schedule – the Rangers would get harder interleague opponents to make up for their weak divisional schedule based on previous years’ winning percentage).

    Or MLB could just sync the divisions – AL East winner the previous year plays the the NL East, Central and West winners, home and away. Second place in AL east plays second place in NL West, etc. Either way, each team has 18 interleague games, 16 games against each team in their division, and 8 games each against the 10 other teams in their league.

    Division winners 1 and 2 get a bye (so there remains competition to win more than your division). Teams 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 play a three-game series. It’s all at the site of the home team, with teams alternating last at-bats between games. One game is played on one day, and a double-header is played on the second day. This makes sure the extra playoff series is kept to the minimum amount of time possible. Having all games at one team site also gives a big advantage to the “best” wildcard and to the third division winner, and keeps up competition for the top wildcard spot. Is there a risk that the best wild-card has a better record than the second-best division winner? Yes. But this happens in the NFL (2010 Saints, 2008 Colts) and no one seems to care.

    Comment by AJS — June 16, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  24. Portland lost their AAA team. They can’t support an MLB team. Not to mention some of your geographic pairings don’t make a ton of sense (i.e. why not put Baltimore with Washington? Why not put Toronto with Detroit?)

    Comment by AJS — June 16, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  25. Portland and Charlotte were just examples of expansion teams. You could put any 4 teams in any division – The point was, balance the leagues out, create close rivalries and get rid of interleague play.

    Comment by Johnny — June 16, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  26. Right, but the problem is, there aren’t two new cities where you could realistically put a baseball team right now and have it thrive. New York could handle another team but MLB is unlikely to allow it. Portland, Charlotte, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, etc. are all weak.

    Comment by AJS — June 16, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

  27. Going to 15 in each league is just a prelude to adding two more teams eventually. Not right away, five years down the road probably. It also will allow teams to switch cities without having to adjust the divisions.

    Personally, I’d like to see A’s and Rays move to LA, with the Dodgers moving back to Brooklyn.

    Comment by UZR is a Joke — June 16, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

  28. AL East
    New York Yankees
    Boston Red Sox
    Baltimore Orioles
    Washington Nationals
    New York Mets

    AL Central
    Minnesota Twins
    Detroit Tigers
    Cleveland Indians
    Cincinnati Reds
    Toronto Blue Jays

    AL West
    Seattle Mariners
    Oakland Athletics
    Los Angeles Angels
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    San Francisco Giants

    NL East
    Philadelphia Phillies
    Atlanta Braves
    Florida Marlins
    Tampa Bay Rays
    Pittsburgh Pirates

    NL Central
    Milwaukee Brewers
    Chicago Cubs
    St. Louis Cardinals
    Kansas City Royals
    Chicago White Sox

    NL West
    San Diego Padres
    Arizona Diamondbacks
    Colorado Rockies
    Houston Astros
    Texas Rangers

    18 divisional games per division rival (9 home, 9 away each for 72 total), 6 games each with the rest of your league (3 home, 3 away, totaling 60 games), and 30 interleague games, all with one of the other league’s three divisions (3 home, 3 away for 5 teams, or the last 30 games.

    [sidenote: I wouldn’t argue keeping the White Sox in the AL Central and the Reds in the NL Central ‘to preserve tradition’, but the Dodgers & Giants must move to the AL West. I understand their lengthy NL history, but they moved to the west coast half a century ago, and this is now a necessary addition to that. The Mets, Rangers, & Royals haven’t been in their leagues long enough to make a big fuss about the switch (they can join the Brewers in their switching ways). Tampa & Washington are babies, plus, Washington baseball was originally AL for 60 years.]

    Comment by MLB Realignment using Common Sense — June 16, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  29. The difference between an 8 team division and a 7 team division is not as big as the difference between a 6 team division and a 4 team division, so you’ve eased the problem a little.

    Comment by matt w — June 16, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  30. Amazing song reference! I did not expect many others besides me were into baseball and experimental music.

    Comment by Jgov05 — June 16, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  31. I think eliminating leagues is more ideal than eliminating divisions

    5 divisions of 6 would work fairly well. the geographic divide works decently (the teams east of the mississippi could be scattered across 3 divisions rather than bunched up into groups around chicago and NY) to try to even up travel if necessary) and the scheduling isn’t horrible. 18 games against each of your 5 divisional opponents, and 3 against every other team, with the home teams alternating each year. Fans would never have to go more than a season without getting to see any particular team, and major geographic rivalries could be largely maintained. 5 division winners + 3 wild cards go to an 8 team tournament seeded by Wins.

    Comment by barold — June 16, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  32. Baseball is the only sport with a great playoff system, in my opinion. Football is very good but it wouldn’t work for baseball.

    There should be a contraction to balance the leagues. The A’s and the Ray’s seem to be the most likely candidates to me. Move two NL teams to the AL, switch to 4 divisions and get rid of interleague play. Two division winners and two wild cards from each league go to the playoffs.

    Obviously this is not going to happen because of financial reasons but that’s what I would do.

    Comment by Contration is key — June 16, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

  33. The converse argument to having the demoralizing label of “15th place” would be that you would have only two “last place” teams in a non-division system instead of six under the current system. I bet a team that perennially finishes at the bottom of their division would rather be “14th” than “last” again. So psychologically, I’m not sure that having a 15th place team would be worse for traditionally struggling clubs–it might be better.

    Comment by jeremy — June 16, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  34. This is probably way out of left field even on the brainstorming chart but what about 15 team division with the last playoff spot going to the team with the most improved year over year record. We always talk about how teams need to innovate to get out of the cellar but this really incentivizes that and means than even the worst teams could be just one year away from the playoffs. More excitement for bad teams, interesting games late in the season for teams under 500.

    Obvious problems
    1. a team could ditch Sep. of one year for a shot at the next year.
    2. It’s easier to improve from 60-70 wins than from 75-85. Still, this might be a benefit as bad teams who really do make improvements suddenly become contenders.
    3. A really bad team could make it into the playoffs.

    Honestly, I’d be willing to live with all of those problems except maybe the 1st, and any team willing to play with fire but racing to the bottom is as likely to alienate its fans as anything.

    Comment by Aaron — June 16, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  35. why is it an attempt to force the DH on the NL more than it is an attempt to get rid of the DH from the AL?

    Comment by jim — June 16, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  36. The NFL has an intentionally unbalanced schedule, and fans (myself included) love it. You finish first one year, you have to play other first-place teams.

    It makes for more turnaround year-over-year (although only playing 16 games is a huge factor too).

    I don’t know how exactly to form that into a bigger idea, but I don’t see why everyone hates the concept.

    Comment by Idea — June 16, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  37. For every Pittsburgh that would have to leapfrog a bunch of teams to get in, there is a Blue Jay team that might deserve a playoff berth, but wouldn’t get it in the current system. Either way, fans will get demoralized if the team is not good enough

    Comment by Keian — June 16, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  38. How much more revenue (if any) does a Giants-Dodgers game generate if both teams are not contending versus say a Pirates-Astros game? Is this substantial? Can we quantify how much a rivalry is worth to the league?

    Comment by Keian — June 16, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

  39. Ugh. At least Cistulli has the decency to not lead off his pieces with the pointless “hip” references. Also, everyone on the internet knows who Pere Ubu us, you’re not special.

    Comment by Bill — June 16, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  40. The problem with eleminating divisions is that it essentially makes the playoffs meaningless and will decrease fan interest in the game. If my team wins the American League then how can we honestly say that it is FAIR that they have to play the 4th best team in order to really win the league. Imagine if say the Brewers win the NL Central but then at the end of the season they were forced to play a ploffs with the top 4 teams in their division to advance. I realize that a division winner may be the 4th best team right now but at least the fans are rooting for a championship rather than 4th. That is incredibly lame and fans would lose interest. The average fan would look at a list of 15 teams and question why he would have to defend a 1 against teams that they ALREADY beat during the season. Right now there are 3 teams with a 1 so it makes sense. The costs are too high.

    Another problem that has already been mentioned is division rivalries would be eleminated which are a really BIG deal. The fans like having rivalries and the owners like the money it puts in their pockets. Bad business and less fun baseball all around.

    Comment by Bad Idea — June 16, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  41. One thing getting rid of divisions does it is deletes the depth and layers of competition. 5 playoff spots per league, that means that the teams who are 2 and 3 really don’t care much, except for seeding. With divisions you’d have something to win. I love the idea of the 5 spots per League, but would like to keep divisions.

    The one thing that I hope happens, is that this happens fairly soon. If there’s one thing I hate it’s buying a video game and then it not being “real” anymore because the rules have changed. I want to know whether or not I can buy the next “The Show” game and know I’ll be able to play it for 2 years without the rules changing or if I shoudl wait.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 16, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  42. This is pretty good, although you’re adding in a lot of variability if teams are competing against teams in other divisions for WC slots. That’s a lot of games without common opponents (because two teams in different divisions won’t face any of the same interleague opponents, either).

    Comment by AJS — June 16, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  43. See my point above. That’s how baseball should do interleague play. It would help teams like the Jays and Orioles make up for their unbalanced schedule, as well.

    Comment by AJS — June 16, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  44. That may be possible but more importantly, and what can’t be quantified, is how important that rivalry is to fan interest and history of the game. A cubs-cardinals rivalry for example has more meaning than a simple economic one.

    Comment by Fraggle — June 16, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  45. Certainly agree, but I would think the business aspect would dictate the decision more than anything. Bud Selig isn’t in this for free hugs after all

    Comment by Keian — June 16, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

  46. It’s not that we couldn’t support the AAA team, it’s that the soccer team took their stadium. I’m sure if we had a MLB team coming to town, they would find a place to build a new stadium for them. The soccer games have all been sold out since the beginning of the season. There is a lot of passion for sports here in PDX.

    Comment by sabernar — June 16, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

  47. Before you mentioned the issue of a 15th-place team, it had never even occurred to me that that could possibly be a problem. It’s a non-issue. Pirates fans know they had the worst record in baseball whether you call it 6th, 15th or 30th.

    Comment by Ian — June 16, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  48. And yet that’s just what they do in the English Premier League (and, I think, most other European soccer leagues). One big division (20 teams) everyone plays everyone else twice (home and away), and at the end of the year, the team with the best record is the winner. The end.

    It’s a very fair system. The best team will almost always win. But it’s actually not that great for EPL, I don’t think, since given the lack of competitive balance the only shot for any but the five or six top clubs to ever win anything would be some kind of March Madness type single-elimination playoff.

    Comment by Douglas Beach — June 16, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  49. This could be thought through a little better. If the goal is to minimize travel, why not put all the teams in the East in one league and in the West in the other? As it is, Giants/Dodgers and Cubs/Cardinals not only aren’t in the same division, they’re not even in the same league!

    Also, Denver and Detroit are two time zones apart. They are not in the same region.

    I would think NYC is a better place for an expansion team than Portland, but I suppose that’s a tough sell.

    As to the concept itself, I think at most two divisions per league is a better idea. A four-team division has a good chance to be won by a crappy team while a better team misses the playoffs, so this doesn’t solve the problem of the 1993 Giants.

    Comment by Douglas Beach — June 16, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

  50. If you’re going to move everyone around anyway, why have East/Central/West in both leagues? Why not minimize travel (and associated time zone disruptions) by putting all the eastern teams in the AL and western teams in the NL?

    Comment by Douglas Beach — June 16, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

  51. I actually like this idea quite a bit. But then you really do have to decide what to do with the DH. Unfortunately I believe this would result in forcing the DH on everyone, which reduces my enthusiasm for this proposal.

    Comment by Douglas Beach — June 16, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

  52. I think it might happen less, since teams that clinch would probably still be fighting for seeding and home field advantage down to the very end

    Comment by Alan — June 16, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  53. One reason is the players’ union. They would be adamantly opposed to getting rid of the DH.

    Comment by DJG — June 16, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  54. FIFA is even more against change than MLB, which is saying a lot.

    Plus they have several other tournaments, including one that invites the champion from each Euro league, which is essentially just a playoff to decide the best team in Europe.

    Comment by Alan — June 16, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  55. That isn’t true at all. The city of Portland is dead set against funding any more stadiums.

    Comment by Alan — June 16, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

  56. I didn’t read a word of this BRUINSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Jonah Keri can “S” a “D”

    Comment by TylerTheCreator — June 16, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  57. and yet you separated the biggest rivalry in baseball

    Comment by Alan — June 16, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  58. I was thinking of embedding the video, but that would have just been ripping off Tim Marchman.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  59. As Jeff Passan told me, the Players’ Union would love to bring the DH to the NL — designated hitters get paid more money than the 12th man in the bullpen.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 16, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  60. The 1st problem is just way too big. It would be common sense to just tank every game when a team gets the slightest inclination that it probably won’t make it that year. It would completely ruin the 2nd half of the season.

    Comment by Alan — June 16, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

  61. I completely agree. Are we supposed to believe that a team will actually get more support from finishing last in their division as opposed to finishing last in the league? The only scenario where I see that as plausible is with the annoying AL East elitists.

    Comment by Alan — June 17, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  62. tl; dr

    Passan’s a dipshit.

    Comment by Rock, Flag and Eagle — June 17, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  63. Adding two more teams is feasible. If you’re looking for cities to support expansion teams, don’t forget Montreal. However, in my opinion the best place to add a team, or perhaps to move one *cough (Rays) cough*, is clearly North Carolina. Charlotte NC ranks as the 31st largest MSA in the US. However, if you put a team in Greensboro you’d be less than an hour and a half drive each from Charlotte and Raleigh, creating an effective catchment area of about 5 million people, making it around the 12th biggest market in the country. Also, NC’s great for baseball; you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a minor league franchise in this state. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s an A-ball team somewhere around here named the Dead Cats.

    Comment by Mike P — June 17, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  64. College basketball is the only sport with a great post-season. Baseball’s post-season involves a best-of-five series deciding which team will advance after a 162-game season. Am I crazy, or does that seem like the least fair of all the major sports?

    Comment by Kris — June 17, 2011 @ 1:40 am

  65. I read somewhere, maybe in Joe Posnanski’s blog, due to off days, there is no reason there has to be be season long interleague games. 14 teams in each league can play every day and 1 team in each league can have an off day.

    Comment by jeremy — June 17, 2011 @ 1:56 am

  66. I wouldn’t rule them out this year as a .500 team. Having seen them play quite a bit, they’re respectable. Their hitting is all right and their pitching is decent. I mean, average hitting, average starting, and an above average bullpen? That sounds an awful lot like a .500 team to me, especially in the NL central. The only component that might be playing over their heads are the starters, as it’s tough to say what to expect with so many unestablished guys.

    Comment by B N — June 17, 2011 @ 3:08 am

  67. You’re seriously putting the Yankees and Red Sox in different leagues? Have you even watched baseball? That’s an instant non-starter to break up the biggest rivalry in the sport, and one of the most famous sports rivalries in the world.

    Comment by B N — June 17, 2011 @ 3:13 am

  68. I’m going to put this out there: Fairness is highly overrated.

    There. I said it. Flame away. But seriously, you want some level of competitive balance but it’s not like you have to go and try to make life fair for all teams at all times. If you wanted that, you do a completely balanced schedule with no leagues, you give everyone the same amount of money, and you try to give teams an opportunity to get healthy before they play (because wouldn’t it be pretty unfair to have a star get injured right before a game?).

    But here are a bunch of unfair situations that are a heck of a lot of fun:
    1. Rivalries – I WANT to see teams play certain teams more. I don’t want to see the Red Sox play the Mets as much as they play the Yankees. That would be stupid. As a Red Sox fan, I am aware it hurts our playoff chances but it’s an important part of the sport.

    2. Weather – I like seeing games played out in the sun, in outdoor stadiums. Fair would be making everyone play indoors, with humidors, to make sure you have the most consistent conditions possible. But I’d rather sit in some sunny bleachers and watch a game, thanks.

    3. Park Effects – Baseball is intrinsically the most “unfair” of sports in a key way: You have tremendous freedom in designing your ballpark. You can build your whole team around that park to give yourself a big homefield advantage. I think the variety of parks is a lot of fun.

    4. Division Races – It’s more fun to see a team compete for a division flag than to try to get “Wild Card Spot #1″. It may be stupid, but the those arbitrary and unfair division setups result in a sense of pride. And economically, they result in a heck of a lot of merchandising. Would you rather get a “Phillies Division Champions” hat or a “Phillies First Seeded Wildcard” hat?

    5. Long Term Contracts – These lead to all sorts of unfairness. Some teams get stuck with albatross contracts that could haunt them for years (see: Vernon Wells). Other teams get great deals (see: Evan Longoria). If we wanted to be fair, everyone would have the same money every offseason and get to build their club up-front like you do in fantasy baseball. Which would be incredibly stupid, given that real players have things like families and homes that would be stupid to change every year. But it would be a lot more fair. Though as a fan, I’d much prefer to have players sign long term so the fan base can get attached to them. I don’t want to have everyone on one-year rent-a-player contracts.

    These are just a small number of “unfair” elements that lead to a more enjoyable game for the fans, or at least this fan.

    Comment by B N — June 17, 2011 @ 3:34 am

  69. In theory, Jeremy, yes. In practice, I doubt any team wants to give up Friday or weekday games. There’s a reason why there are no scheduled off days on those days (with the exception of playoff schedules). As well, considering the number of 2-game series that we’ve seen from the schedule makers recently, I don’t necessarily trust them to implement consistent interleague play well.

    This feels way too much like trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

    Comment by Carter Dotson — June 17, 2011 @ 4:08 am

  70. Two points:

    1) The NBA. Do you care where the Mavs finished in the regular season? Does anyone?

    2) Over-saturation. Do we need 18 Red Sox – Yankee games a year? I don’t.

    Comment by DOB — June 17, 2011 @ 6:35 am

  71. nah we’re a unique populace. I assure you everyone on the internet does NOT know Pere Ubu (they should though!).

    Comment by Joe — June 17, 2011 @ 7:35 am

  72. 18 Yankee-Red Sox games are great for Boston and New York, and I’d hate to see that number reduced. Three 3 game series in each park against divisional rivals is a great format.

    What I can’t tolerate is the idea of NBA-style playoffs. No divisions is a first step toward 8 playoff teams per league, and then the fairness crowd would insist that each series be best of 7. So we’d get an interminable 2 month slog from mid September to mid November that only the most hard core baseball fans would follow.

    Nobody watches the actual NBA playoffs as it is. Why MLB would want to follow that example is beyond me.

    Comment by Candlestick Parker — June 17, 2011 @ 7:41 am

  73. Well, I’m not really making a prediction so much as trying to avoid a jinx.

    Comment by matt w — June 17, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  74. what about if you played the following breakdown
    other league – 3 games each = 45 games
    your league 8.35714 games each (average) -117 games.

    you play the other league at home every other year. now this would cross town rivalries only occur half as much, but the (random small market team) gets to play the (monster big market team) every other year as well.

    Comment by Jacob — June 17, 2011 @ 8:38 am

  75. But they don’t have average hitting or average pitching.

    Currently, according to WAR, they have the 22nd best line up (including offense and defense) and the 22nd best pitching staff. That amounts to a distinctly below average team, which is perhaps a couple notches above their performance over the past 2 decades.

    That isn’t to say they won’t be good in the future, they have some nice pieces, but they’re certainly not average right now.

    Comment by Will — June 17, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  76. He can slap a doofus? Are you volunteering?

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

  77. You could use the same playoff system utilized by every other major sport. Assign a top seed to the winner of the division, then seed the remaining playoff spots to the teams with the best records, regardless of their division. Therefore, the worst case scenario sees only one “undeserving” team makes the playoff at the expense of another team.

    Comment by Will — June 17, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  78. The Twins were going to move there (Greensboro area) a few years back–allegedly–before Minnesota decided to foot the bill for a new stadium.

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

  79. Can’t put yankees/red sox in different leagues.

    Comment by Friedman — June 17, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  80. And life is not fair.

    Comment by mgraves — June 17, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  81. San Antonio?

    Comment by Friedman — June 17, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  82. When half the teams in a league make the play-offs (NBA, NHL), then it cheapens the season. And when a season is 162 games long, cheapening it just seems dumb.

    Comment by mgraves — June 17, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  83. Yes! This and this. Fans of bad teams do not find consolation in the fact that they place fifth or sixth in their division. I know. I’m a fan of a bad team!

    MLB needs to be less insecure about their fan base if they really think this is an issue. People like going to watch baseball games. Would the Pirates have sold more tickets last year if they were in a playoff race? Of course. But listing them as 15th in the NL rather than 6th in the NL central wouldn’t have them any less out of contention. No one was rocking up to PNC in September thinking: “Hey, this team is only five spots outta first. Go Pirates!”

    Anyway, the only way to have real fairness is to go back to no divisions and no playoffs save for the World Series. Two best teams, one series. But no one wants to see that. I certainly don’t want to see that and I don’t think it would be in the best interest of the sport. Whatever way we do it, there’s an element of unfairness. I think no divisions would be cool in a way, but the logistics of the schedule and the travel might hamper certain teams. Besides, who knows if in 15 years people wouldn’t be complaining that the seven best teams in baseball are all in the AL and two of them are missing out to mediocre NL losers? It’s all just pissing in the wind.

    Except for the DH! Get rid of the pitcher hitting! At this stage, it is just beyond stupid.

    Comment by Daniel — June 17, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  84. I agree. This seems like a reasonable compromise for both sides of the aisle.

    Comment by Joshsaysgomo — June 17, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  85. I love this idea,

    I would change the playoffs though.

    Have two divisions in each league, 1 with 8 – the other with 7

    First place of each division gets a buy to the 7 game division championship round.

    The next 6 teams are ranked by record, 3-8.

    5-8, 6-7, play 1 elimination game, home team is higher seed.

    Winner of 6-7 plays 3 game series at 3 (home team always 3)
    Winner of 5-8 plays 3 game series at 4 (home team always 4)

    Winners play a 7 game series against division winners in division championship round. (division winner is top seed)

    Winner play a 7 game series in Al/NL championship round.

    Winning the division is a big deal, and your record afterword is a big deal. Yes more teams make the playoffs but if you make it as a low seed you might not get a home game unless you can win the early series.


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

  86. Vegas.

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

  87. I have no idea who Pere Ubu is.

    Comment by Llewdor — June 17, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  88. Ooh, I like the idea of playing .35714ths of a game. “That’s the first out of the 4th inning; and the game’s over, folks!”

    Comment by Mike P — June 17, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  89. Completely agree.

    The NFL has a 12 team playoff structure and a salary cap yet there is more parity in baseball. MLB is no more “unfair” than any other sport. Sports are inherently “unfair” as is everything.

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

  90. The main problem with this setup up that no one seems to have brought up is the fact that no divisions would make the regular season meaningless. Right now the best team currently wins one of the three divisions. That team then has to go through a playoffs to win the league. If there were no divisions then the team with the best record would be #1 out of 15 teams but not the winner of the league (even though they are). Even though that team has the best record and should have won the league they would be forced to go through a playoffs with the 4th & 5th place team to really win the league. Therefore the regular season’s only value is to determining where your team falls on a bracket. I am sorry but that really is the lamest thing I have ever heard and I honestly cannot believe it is even being considered.

    Comment by Fraggle — June 17, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  91. not to mention setting the stage for the next century of world series play…

    Comment by fredsbank — June 17, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  92. I definitely think more people watch a playoff game than a regular season game, so I don’t know why you would think people would get disinterested in the playoffs. If anything, I think people would tune out at times during the regular season and watch in October and November. I think the long regular season does make a long playoffs a bad idea, though.

    Comment by shamus mcfitzy — June 17, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  93. Agreed, but have four 4-team divisions in each league, and two wild-card teams… just like the NFL.

    Comment by gonfalon — June 17, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  94. how is that much different than what happens now? That we would actually know who the best team in the NL is before the playoffs start rather than just assuming based on an unbalanced schedule? It’s not better now just because we couldn’t definitively say whether the Phillies were the best team in the NL last year based on their regular season record. And clearly we don’t care about determining the definitively best team in the league every year because then we wouldn’t have playoffs because the 162 game season is much more telling than a max of 21 games in the playoffs. The downside you’re talking about is only caused by actually knowing more about who’s better.

    Comment by shamus mcfitzy — June 17, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  95. We hate the concept because the NFL is setting it up, intentionally, for the best teams to have a harder time to make the playoffs. Baseball plays 162 games – schedule imbalances can be mostly gotten rid of by removing the massive within division schedule (~18 games against each division team). If you have no divisions, it’s gone completely. With two divisions, it’s closer to balancing out.

    But no, please don’t reward bad teams by letting them play more bad teams next year. Tanking might become a problem, whereas in baseball it’s never been one (unlike basketball). A few teams facing a current problem (Al East power teams) shouldn’t mean permanent spreading around of the same problem. I’d rather see a great team make it every year, even if I’d rather that team wasn’t the Red Sox or Yankees. Making it harder on great teams isn’t what I want to see, I just want to see other teams be great (revenue sharing?).

    Comment by test — June 17, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  96. I don’t think it eliminates rivalries, it just makes them more natural, less forced. That is, right now as a Jays fan, the rivals have been picked out for me because we play them 40% of the time. I miss the Tigers rivalry, but it’s a non-starter playing 6-7 games a year against them – some years you’re done with them in May and don’t see them until next August.

    The Red Sox/Yankees will remain rivals, as will the Giants/Dodgers, etc. But maybe some different rivalries can get going, the current system of heavy inter-divisional (and pre-assigned NL rivals) play actively discourages new rivalries from forming, especially among non-playoff teams.

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

  97. good points… also, if MLB was really interested in fairness, there would be a salary cap.

    Comment by gonfalon — June 17, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  98. A big problem with constant interleague play is that teams will be playing interleague games in September that are much less important than the games the rest of their leagues will be playing. The schedule-makers would have to decide which teams are probably going to be bad and then schedule their interleague games for late September. Even then, unless you’re going to try to stack all of the Astros interleague games at the end of the year, you’re going to have to pick like 5 teams from each league to play less important series at the most dramatic time of the year. Bad predictions of who is going to be bad could lead to things like a Diamondbacks-Indians series at a time when those teams might be competing for playoff spots.

    Comment by shamus mcfitzy — June 17, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  99. I had no idea who Pere Ubu was but thanks to You Tube, now I have music to buy.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 17, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  100. I think we should add 2 new teams!!! One should most certainly be in Newark NJ, the other is open, but I prefer Mexico City.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 17, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

  101. Most logical place in the entire universe for a new baseball team has got to be newark NJ (or anywhere close to their in NJ). Cuts into the unfair money advantage of the Yankees and creates a new large market team! Not some puny barely functioning team like Potland Ore. Newark is a larger potential market than Atlanta.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 17, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  102. If fairness matters to baseball then small market teams should play each other more and large market teams should play each other more. What is unfair is the amount of money teams like the red sox and yankees have to spend compared to teams like the Royals and Marlins. These cities are hardly peers.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 17, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  103. Eh, perhaps I was loose with my language by stating that the Pirates have average hitting and pitching. Mediocre might be a better word. I tend to think of them as being in the bottom-middle of the pack in both. But that’s still fairly average, I’d put them in the 1 StdDev range from the mean rather than the 2 StdDev range.

    Additionally, they seem to be quite close to the mean for their division. They’ve got a couple teams that are clearly better than them and a couple of teams that have been just brutal so far. Either way, the moral of the story is that if their starters can avoid a total collapse, they should be able to finish the season as a .500 team.

    Comment by B N — June 18, 2011 @ 1:23 am

  104. I guess, but then wouldn’t the college basketball post season be the most unfair. 6 one game series after a 30-40 game regular season.
    Fair doesn’t equal great, at least to me.

    Comment by Jacob — June 18, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  105. “In the twenty-four years from the advent of the Designated Hitter in 1973 to the beginning of interleague play in 1997, the World Series provided an exotic chance for fans of both leagues to see how the other half lived.”

    Not quite. The AL adopted the DH in ’73, but it wasn’t used in the WS until ’76. Also of note: in even-numbered years from ’76 to ’84, the DH was used throughout the series regardless of venue. The current system went into effect in ’86.

    Comment by RoyaleWithCheese — June 18, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  106. Nobody is going to go to Newark to watch a game, in my opinion. It’s easily one of the ugliest cities I have ever seen.

    The most logical place for a team is probably Vegas, which has a decent sized market and has been fighting for a team for years. Additionally, it would be an easy park for tourists to catch a game at- which increases its reach.

    If it wasn’t for worries about getting gambling involved with baseball again, there would already be a Vegas team. The economics are right.

    Comment by B N — June 18, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

  107. I’m not totally opposed to 2 divisions, as long as the overall schedule is still balanced, it does give some meaning to winning your division.
    Not a huge fan of that many teams making the playoffs, though. If I had it my way it would still just be the division winners, with 2 wild cards. I only included 5 teams per league above because it looks inevitable that that will happen, I’d still prefer only 4 per league.

    Comment by PearlDrumBum — June 18, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

  108. I can’t help but laugh at the people who complain about the Yankees and Red Sox having too much money to spend. The reason they have so much money to spend is that they have more fans who support the team than anyone else.

    The idea that all teams should split all their revenue is equally ridiculous. A team makes their money based on their attendance and local TV contracts. It is purely based on their fan base and how much their fan base spends. Why should the people in NY & Boston have to pay so that you can have a major league team? Oh right, because it’s YOU, and YOUR CITY is the most important city in the world. Sorry, but if your fan base can’t support a team, then it shouldn’t have one.

    The Yankees actually have to compete with a second NY team. Yet people never mention the Mets, who should have the same revenues as the Yankees. They can cut into the Yankees’ revenues any and every year. And what is the Yankees reward for dominating the fan dollar in their city? Your rward for them is to give their money to your team. Give me a break.

    Lastly, anyone whose idea of realignment is putting the Yankees and Mets in the same league is absolutely clueless and lives in a fantasy world. The only reason NY and Chicago have 2 teams is because there are 2 separate leagues. Or else each city would have 1 team.

    Be happy MLB isn’t run like your precious NFL. All the salary cap does is create league wide mediocrity. There are no great teams. Just 32 equal teams. And if 1 team does somehow breakoutt of the mediority pack, there is no other great team to play them. Atleast in baseball you get atleast 2 great teams: the Yankees and the Red Sox. It’s more exciting to watch great teams than it is to watch a league of all equals. And if you look at MLB revenues, the numbers back that up.

    Comment by The Iron Horse — June 18, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

  109. Thank you very much for the correction, that’s history I didn’t know.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 19, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  110. Move the Astros to the al west, but keep the divisions. Add 2 wildcards to each league. Then make the top 2 teams from each league get a by, which would create competitiveness year round.

    Comment by Will — June 20, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  111. This would all be so much simpler if baseball had 32 teams.

    Comment by Ben — June 22, 2011 @ 10:09 am

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