About four months ago Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig named a 14 person Special Committee for On-Field Matters. This group was charged with examining MLB and providing suggestions on how to make baseball better, and no issue is too sacred to be considered. On March 9th, Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci posted a column on the progress of the committee so far. It is shocking what this group is considering. Here is what Verducci wrote:
“The committee already has made good on Selig’s promise by discussing a radical form of “floating” realignment in which teams would not be fixed to a division, but free to change divisions from year-to-year based on geography, payroll and their plans to contend or not.”
This idea is absurd! It is laughable! There are baseball purists who still complain about interleague play, and the wildcard spot for the playoffs. They hold on too dearly to tradition. This new idea is taking the notion of progress and change too far. There is something powerful and wonderful with the way the divisions are set up now. Rivalries and series are what make MLB special. In the NFL, the Browns only get to play the Steelers twice a year. In baseball, the Cleveland Indians will get to play against the Minnesota Twins around 18 times a year. There is history there, familiarity, and revenge. There is also inequity in MLB. The two best powerhouses in baseball are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. They constantly have to fight each other for the division crown and the free wildcard spot. Here is an interesting fact. The Florida Marlins have 2 championships. If they played in the AL East with the Yankees and Red Sox, the Marlins would have zero championships because they would not have made the playoffs those years. Verducci goes to write:
“One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll, could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at postseason play instead of continually fighting against the mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.”
I find it very interesting that this “special committee” decided to choose the Cleveland Indians as their example of a team that is not doing well and would like to throw in the towel for a season or two. Maybe it is time for the movie Major League 4 to be put into production. It is important to note that this concept of floating divisional realignment is just a concept for now. The committee is kicking the idea around, and decisions have not been made. But the fact that there is consideration for this topic tells me that MLB is willing to acknowledge that parity is not present in the salaries and divisions of the sport. I think a minimum and maximum salary cap would do more for helping the small market teams compete. This realignment is an exotic idea that may destroy the heritage of America’s receeding pastime.