12 June 2011
News broke yesterday that their are discussions among the players union and the owners that baseball may switch to two 15 team leagues with the top five teams in each league advancing to the playoffs. This means that baseball would have one of the National League teams switch over to the American League, it would get rid of the divisions, and add another round to the playoffs. As of right now the chances of this actually happening is under 50-50, but it is still in the early in the negotiating period for the new collective bargaining agreement. As of right now the team that would be most likely be moved to the AL from the NL is the Houston Astros, who will automatically have a natural rival in the Texas Rangers. Although the current ownership says that they have no interest in changing leagues, the team is up for sale and MLB could make the switch of leagues a part of the sale. As with any big change it comes with several pros and cons.
- Being a Marlins and Orioles fan this switch really helps these teams who have to play perennial big market powers. It has always been seen as a disadvantage to teams in the AL East to have to play both the Yankees and Red Sox 18 times each, while in the AL West and Central are filled with mid sized markets who tend to have quite a bit more turnover in the divisions. Instead with the elimination of divisions the games played becomes evenly distributed among all of the teams in the league.
- An addition of another playoff round. With the top five teams, as opposed to the current four team, now going to the playoff it means that means that teams #4 and #5 will play each other in the opening round and the winner will go on to play #1.
- This also means that teams with who win weak divisions will not be able to sneak into playoffs. In the past, their have been teams who are barley over .500 who have been able to get into the playoffs because they play in a horrible division. Now with it being a one giant league it will make sure that only the teams with the top five records would be able to advance.
- Interleague play is going to happen through out the year. Baseball is set up right now with 16 teams in the NL and 14 teams in the AL so that their will be even match-ups with no team getting an equivalent of a bye week. So to eliminate this problem with a two 15 team leagues baseball will expand Interleague play to happen all year long.
- Reduced drama at the end of the year. Part of the fun at the end of the season are all of the division races and wild card races that take place. This year their is a chance that three of the best teams in the AL could be the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays and they will be fighting for both the division title and the wild card. However in the new system these teams could be pretty set to make the playoffs and not have to much to worry about come the end of the year.
- Not a fan of the new playoff format. It is just a really funky way to go threw the playoffs. It makes more sense to either stay with a four team playoff system with every team playing in the first round, or a six team playoff system with the top two teams getting a bye in the first round.
- Interleague play is going throughout the year. Some people hate interleage play, and if you are one of those people than the idea of it happening all year long has to be torturous.
- With no more weighted schedule also comes the chance that it will also mean increase travel. For the Marlins, most of their travel is up and down the East Coast and are less than three hour flights. However with less games in Atlanta and Washington it will mean more games in Milwaukee and San Diego. One of the way baseball would probably do to deal with this is have longer road trips and home stands, maybe three to five series per stand. Some people may have a problem with this, especially those who already complain that their are not enough rest days off.
Personally I think that I am in favor of this change. Baseball rarely does anything to radical, and they are all but afraid of change, so the idea of this possibility is excited. This change is also a positive one, potentially, for the Marlins. The Marlins on any given year can get 82-87 wins playing a bunch of games against good Braves and Phillies teams, and have two World Series Championships despite no division titles. If the Marlins play the Braves and Phillies only 12 times a year, down from 18, that could also mean that they get to play more games against teams like the Padres and Pirates. With more games against lower talent teams and an additional playoff team it should mean more playoff opportunities for the Marlins.
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