What is MLB REALLY trying to pull here with this plan for 2020 that they leaked yesterday?
- THE FAKE TRAVEL ARGUMENT
At a top level you are supposed to just accept that baseball wants to get rolling. However, the arguments quickly fall apart and I think there is WAY more to this.
In one scenario, there would be three divisions, and the one we would care about would look like this:
New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins (Via USA Today)
And the argument for that realignment is….
If air travel/hotel accommodations are an issue early, MLB recognizes it might have to scramble its current division alignment to one more geographically favorable. So, for example, it is possible because of proximity that the Mets and Yankees could end up in the same division in 2020. But as one official said, “Time is on our side. We don’t have to make those types of decisions now. We can keep gathering information to make the best choice possible.” (via NY Post)
That’s nice, except it makes no sense. Why would the Mets be grouped with Florida teams? It is 1293 miles from Queens to Miami.
Why wouldn’t Atlanta be grouped with the Florida teams?
I could go on and on. But, Travel is Travel. Whether Pete Alonso sits on a private plane for two hours or four, travel is travel and he has still left his safe eco-bubble.]
The travel argument doesn’t hold water. This is just to get you used to radical realignment and Universal DH in 2021.
2, THE EXPANDED PLAYOFFS
Three Divisions. Presumably that puts three teams in the playoffs. Clearly we aren’t going to regress to just having 4 teams in the playoffs, especially because while we’re putting money over safety, why not go all in on playoffs.
You could do 3 division winners, plus 5 wild cards. 8-4-2-1. That works. Or Top two in each division plus two Wild Cards.
The next number that works is SIXTEEN, and I think this is where this is heading. Three division winners and THIRTEEN Wild Cards. 16-8-4-2-1.
Baseball will use the cover of 2020 to get you used to the idea of 16 team playoffs like other sports have. They will sell the Baseball Mafia on how exciting the playoffs were and they will keep it.
And they might as well keep a form of radical alignment as well. And you will already have a year of Universal DH under your belt. Your resistance to new ideas will have been worn away.
3. THE CASE FOR RIPPING IT ALL UP ANYWAY
I have written about this several times, and I will re-post below. Baseball divides up quite nicely into 25 year eras, and we just closed out 1995-2019. Time for The Modern Age. Radical Realignment, Universal DH, and I still say they should look at 7 inning games as the record book was destroyed by The Steroid Age anyway.
5000 B.C. – 1918. The Prehistoric Age. We had guys in knickerbockers and a 9 game World Series and the Federal League and Big Ed Walsh won 40 games. This has nothing to do with anything related to the sport you watch.
1918-1945. The Diamond Age. The Sultan of Swat destroyed Home Run Baker’s record by hitting 29 in 1918 and 54 the next year. White guys played white guys and traveled by train and played day games. Lots of good things happened in 8 team leagues.
1946-1968. The Golden Age. This is the baseball everyone waxes poetic about. Everyone is back from the war. Baseball lets black players play. Subway Series and Willie, Mickey and the Duke, Joltin Joe and West Coast teams and Ted Williams and Roger Maris and all that. We can argue about 154 vs 162 some other time.
1969-1994. The Silver Age. This is the baseball I grew up with. Guys won 300 games and struck out 300 batters. You won MVPs by hitting .300 with 30 HRs. Leagues played by different rules but since they only played each other in the World Series it was almost OK.
Then everything breaks.
1995-2020. The Bronze Age. To borrow from Bob Costas, all the great hitters of all time decided to play all at the same time. Wild Cards and Interleague and some suspect workouts led to all kinds of crazy statistics that have nothing to do with the Golden and Silver Ages which are more alike than the Golden Age is to the Prehistoric Age. So let’s Put It In The Books and enjoy these 25 years as their own thing and appreciate the great numbers put up by Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Clemens and even Rafael Palmeiro.
And now on to the future. We will drag baseball into the 21st Century of short attention spans and more competition and kids who don’t care about the game.
2020-2100. The Modern Age. Radical realignment. Universal DH. New rules. 16 Team Playoffs.
This is what I think baseball is up to with this plan they floated. They will use 2020 to wear you down, and by 2021 you will be OK with all the change.
The Baseball you knew is gone forever. Killed by Coronavirus in March 2020. Welcome to The New Baseball.