A few quick notes before we get into today’s discussion. I know these posts have been pretty stream-of-consciousness. I will try to do better about actually crafting these posts. I took a play writing class in college, which I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I was pretty decent at. The professor (who made some appearances in Raging Bull) made the point that they’re called playwrights, not play writers. You should be crafting the play much like one would craft a ship (shipwright, not ship builders, for those that don’t follow). I like keeping in some stream-of-consciousness, I think it makes for a more interesting and many times more natural read. But there is a limit, which I have probably abused in this blog. Which brings me to my second point. Day one, I had thirty-some unique visitors. Twenty-some on day two. Four yesterday. Four! Now, day two was probably not my best work, but it wasn’t that bad. If you’re one of those four brave souls, you’re very much appreciated. Get some of those other twenty to come back. It’s getting better, I promise.
Now, the original purpose here. My first plan to fix baseball. We all know the best baseball is playoff baseball. That’s true of most sports for obvious reasons. Baseball, though, I think has the best playoffs, because the first round doesn’t needlessly drag on, and there are only four teams per league instead of eight like basketball and hockey. Football is slightly better with six per side, but the four team divisions start a whole new problem. So, if things stayed as they are now, three division champs plus one wild card, I would have no complaint.
Problem is, of course, baseball knows everybody loves playoff baseball. So, naturally, their response is to give us all more playoff baseball. Everybody wins, right? NO! WE DO NOT! It’s a terrible idea that I hope somebody squashes before we even get to the table for the new CBA. I dislike that idea even more than the 18-game NFL schedule we’ve been hearing about, and I’m not fan of that, either. If a change must be made, we should go back to less playoffs if anything. I’ve done some thinking on that, and depending on the day, I might argue that’s still superior to what we’ve got now.
Okay, you say, so what do you propose? I’m so glad you asked. I would love to see each league go back to two divisions. Then we just take the two division winners play a best-of-seven series for the pennant, and another best-of-seven for the World Series, like baseball did until 1994. The next question would be how do you split up the divisions? Baseball has better divisions than football, so that makes this task a little easier. Are the divisions going to be pretty big? Yes. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It makes the division crown mean much more, as it’s the only way to the post season. Kind of like conference championships should mean in college sports (and typically do in Division III).
The east and west divisions in both leagues would stay put, so then it’s just how to split up the central divisions. The only unfortunate thing here is the dividing line ends up right through Chicago, but we all knew there would be some tough calls heading into this. Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order).
*I don’t know if it’s been officially announced, but it’s at least an open secret that Florida is about to rebrand to Miami when they open their new stadium.
**I’m already proposing some radical changes here, so I’ll meet the Angels halfway on this name change thing.
The AL was a little easier to make the call, Detroit and Cleveland being a decent ways further east than their other Central Division counterparts. The NL was a little tougher. By geography, the decision was pretty clearly splitting up the Cubs and Milwaukee. I suppose you could make an argument for Houston, but I think they are a much better fit for the west than really any other central teams. So, given that choice, I pretty much had to send Chicago west as to preserve the rivalry with St. Louis. There’s no way baseball could lose that. And to give more games between these new, bigger divisions, I would get rid of interleague play, should be done anyway. It’s cool in New York and Chicago, and maybe San Francisco and LA (though I don’t think there’s the same sort of intercity rivalry there. . .you might even be able to make that argument for NY since the Yankees are clearly the dominant team there). But I think Missouri has gotten over the 1985 World Series by now. And I don’t know how you even really argue for the Rockies and Mariners having a natural interleague rival. Just get rid of it, let’s have real separation between leagues again.
While I’m griping like an old man, let’s get rid of the DH, too. And would it kill to have some afternoon World Series games?