Friday, June 17, 2011

Interleague Play and Realignment

The Royals pick up the interleague play schedule again tonight with a three game set at St. Louis. As a fan of the Royals I am incredibly blessed to finally get an opportunity to see the great strategy of baseball. I mean I can't imagine what sort of solution the Royals will come up with when there is a man on second and the pitcher for the Cardinals is on deck tonight. I just don't know what the Royals will do to handle that sort of situation.

Of course based on the latest rumors regarding possible realignment we could see much more of this awesome strategy in the future. However, if the league was to go to just two fifteen team leagues with no divisions, I suspect that they would either totally do away with the dh, or add the dh for the National League.

Considering the DH provides aging sluggers jobs and already is providing fourteen job opportunities a year, I doubt that the player's union would be very happy to see the dh cut fromt he league rules. More likely the NL would add the dh as a way to appease the Player's Union in order for the league to get their way on another subject.

I am a huge proponent of the DH for the American League. But I can't say I would be totally happy if the National League adopted the rule. I am a bit ambivalent on the subject. On one hand I hate that a player like Billy Butler is basically forced to the bench because the National League thinks a pitcher should have to bat, even though they are in no way a major league player because they can hit. On the other hand it seems weird to think that the National League would adopt the DH and the days of pitchers hitting would be totally behind us.

Speaking of realignment, it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. It seems a foregone conclusion that baseball will expand the playoffs to allow five teams into the postseason. The way realignment is gaining steam we could be saying the same for it in a few months. It is my hope however that baseball will consider other solutions before making a decision on the matter.

So far we have heard about floating realignment, and the latest proposal that involves one team moving from the NL to AL and the divisions being removed from the equation. What I would also be interested in seeing discussed would be expansion to 32 teams.

For some reason in American Sports 30 has always been the magic number for sports leagues, however mathematically and for schedule purposes that number should be 32. The NFL has expanded to this number and they have found the benefits to such a round number. Eight divisions of four teams each. Also, if the league wanted to expand and also tap back into that older style they could have four divisions of eight teams each.

I think this is a proposal that should definitely be considered. Some people fear that the game has been watered down and talent isn't what it used to be. However, for every one person that dies, seven people are born. What I am saying is that the potential market for baseball players is expanding at a rapid rate, and when you consider that baseball is branching out to new frontiers it isn't hard to imagine finding fifty more players a year to fill out major league rosters.

The biggest problem with expansion is dealing with television markets. Considering that the entire US is already claimed by teams there isn't much space for other teams to encroach enough to claim their own territory. However, many teams already share territories with other teams and as we saw with the Expos move to Washington deals can be struck to benefit both sides.

Another solution that could be easier for teams would be for the expansion to occur outside the continental United States. There are several cities that could be deserving of a team and have been considered in the past that would fit this criteria: San Juan, Monterrey, Vancouver, and Montreal. By exapanded to any two of these cities Major League Baseball could expand its brand.

Obviously there would be different difficulties to overcome should the MLB consider this route, for example currency exchange and international television rights. But the point is that there would be issues to overcome in any situation involving relocation and expansion but the benefits could be worth it.

I don't know what solutions will be proposed and considered by the Commisioners office, but I am hoping that creative solutions are considered. At this point I would almost be surprised if realignment doesn't occur.

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