Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let's Talk Baseball: Further Thoughts on Realignment

I agree with Marc that the inter-league games are problematic. They're a marketing bonanza so I doubt they're going anywhere soon but what bothers me about them is the lack of balance they perpetuate in the schedule. One of the main arguments for doing the games has always been promoting regional rivalries. While it's great for that, I do think there's a problem when the Mets have to play the Yankees every year while the Nationals get to play the Orioles every year. It becomes increasingly difficult to make a meaningful comparison of their win-loss record at the end of the year.

The AL East seems to be the case study problem for which floating alignment is being discussed, with the Orioles in particular being singled out as a team which would benefit. Bear in mind, I say this as an O's fan, but I don't see how it would be good for the team in the long run. It's not the fault of the Red Sox or Yankees that the Orioles stink. Does having to play each of them 18 times make compiling a winning record more difficult? Sure. But even if they were to lose all 36, there are 126 other games on the schedule and the Birds have been losing most of those, too. Furthermore, playing the East Coast's two most popular teams 36 times is fantastic for the bottom line. There's no shortage of New England or New York ex-pats in the Baltimore/DC television market, guaranteeing ticket sales and strong TV ratings.

It's worth noting, too, that the Orioles were also in the same division as the Yanks and Sox back in the '70s and early '80s when the O's were baseball's model franchise. What's more, the Yankees have been Goliath since the 1920s, long before 9-figure player contracts were fathomable.

The intent of my proposal is an arrangement which acknowledges the current state of the game. Until baseball takes measures to assure greater competitive integrity over time, why not have the haves play in their own league while the have-lesses play in another and stop pretending that a team like the Orioles even has a shot until they make major systemic changes.

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