Mike Greenberg has been even harder to listen to than normal. I really ought to cut Mike & Mike out of my morning drive, because it does me no good. For those of you that haven't been listening (and good for you!), Greenie has been promoting his "Greenie Plan," which he seems to support without any hint of sarcasm or irony.
To summarize, he wants baseball to become like basketball or hockey. To elaborate, he wants two fifteen team leagues, rolling interleague, uniform rules between leagues, and balanced schedules. This more or less ignores the last, I don't know, century or better of baseball, completely changes the structure of the league, and does very little to actually gain anything.
What is his grand evidence that we need his change? The Tampa Bay Rays. You know, the team that was in the World Series a few years ago and does more to prove that the Yankees and Red Sox are not impossible to beat. The bigger point is that the Rays would be leading any other division, but they won't make the playoffs because they can't overtake the two big boys. Nevermind that they have made the playoffs the past few years and currently sit four games behind the leader (New York) with exactly half the season to go. A little early to decide they can't compete, isn't it?
Let's just say the AL East is a two-team race, though. The other two (I just can't lump the Rays in there) teams just have too far to climb, they can't get there. Because this is what the argument is saying. The Yankees and Red Sox dominate their division too much, so we need a way to include more teams. A very East Coast-centric* problem, but it's ESPN, so what would you expect? Furthermore, it's ESPN and New Yorker Mike Greenberg.
*If only I knew the code for an en dash. You don't see that punctuation very often.
There are parts I can get behind. The uniform rules would be good, but only if it's NL rules. I would much rather have different rules if it meant the expansion of the DH. The balanced schedule is okay, though it really doesn't bother me one way or the other. That's the extent of it, though. No, it seems Greenie is getting his panties in a bunch over something that ought to be a very simple fix instead of overhauling the league. If you want to curb the Yankees and Red Sox big advantage, you put in a salary cap. Now they can't afford to pay every player they want, and they have to make decision. Which in turn spreads talent out, and gives smaller market teams a number to shoot for instead of just deciding "we're spending x amount this year." I would also argue for a salary floor.
There are valid arguments against the salary floor as a competitive balance issue. For example, the Pirates have been criticized for not spending enough on their team. As a fan of the Indy Indians, I knew the brigade was coming, so I didn't worry about it. And sure enough, they're sitting just two games back in the NL Central right now. With baseball, you have to remember there is a farm system, and most fans really don't know what even their own teams have in the pipeline, let alone other teams. The Pirates committed themselves to a rebuilding plan, which did include some cheap years without many wins. It looks like they're going to start seeing the benefits now. It may have been harder to pull that off with a salary floor. That said, when the Marlins are the most profitable team, there's a problem.
This would be a major change on the business end of baseball, but it wouldn't dismantle baseball's entire history and structure on the field. It would probably also help teams like the Cubs with a bunch of money to spend and no idea how or on who to spend it. Much better to keep some of that money in the pocket than to waste it on giving Soriano and Fukudome huge contracts they had no chance at living up to.
In Wimbledon news, Djokovic (However it's spelled. Crazy Serbs.) is through to the finals, and Nadal and Murray just kicked off. Murray holds a 3-2 lead in the first set as I type. I'm sure most of the world is rooting for him, with all due respect to Nadal.