Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Realignment and It Feels so Good... Pt. 1

I took my blogging hiatus right as I was in the middle of my top 10 issues most likely to be addressed in the new MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.  As I easily predicted--- I was not able to get through all top ten; in fact, I made it through three...   Nonetheless, number four on my list was going to be a discussion on REALIGNMENT!

As most of you know, in 2013, the Houston Astros will be moving to the American League West.    However, this came at a cost to ex-Astros owner Drayton McClane, who ended up having to take a discount on the sale of the team to persuade incoming owner Jim Crane to sign off on the move.  But why would Commissioner Selig sign off (some might say orchestrate) a transaction that ended up lowering the team's sale value.  Let's put on our tinfoil hats and cue the conspiracy theory...

With the Astros move to the American League, for the first time in Major League Baseball history, there will be an odd number of teams (15) in each league.  This occurrence will necessitate interleague play from opening day through the stretch drive. To put it more bluntly, on any given day from April through the end of September, an American League team and National League will be playing head to head. [As a side note, Professor J. Gordon Hylton, has an interesting blog post discussing the history of interleague play, including the little known fact that professional baseball previously had toyed with the idea of all-season-long interleague play.] It is seems obvious that this new set up is just be a prelude of things to come...

  Let me take you in my way back machine to 1994 to our national pass time's first foray into interleague play.  A lot of pundits saw it as the end of world series as we know it.  Bob Costas wept a single tear and seemed like he was suffering from PTSD from watching Commissioner Bud, a traditionalist in his own right, take a Louisville slugger and have his way with an apple pie, perverting our national past time and American values. Why Bud why!?!?

Nonetheless, even with the traditionalists downtrodden prophecies of baseball becoming as American as"futbol,"  the baseball world as we know it did not crumble.  In fact, the game is as popular as ever.  Interleague play allows all fans the chance to see the best of baseball no matter what team they follow. Sure, there may be some lame games between San Diego and Toronto.  But remember those days when you were a Dodger fan and the only way you got to see Ken Griffey, Jr. (in his prime-Seattle years) was to head out to Anaheim? No MORE!  

Moreover, the Commissioner realized that there be gold in interleague play---in the form of of geographic rivalries.  Besides maybe the World Series (and some of those are snooze fests...), the time where the ballpark becomes most alive full electricity are inter-city games---cross town games between Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Yankees v. Mets Subway Series, and... Rangers v. Astros.

This is where cunning Commissioner Selig continues his opus.  If he had announced interleague play every day in 1994, there would have been riots in the street.  He experimented with it and it paid off.  Selig is  harnessing these geographic rivalries to continue to spurn the popularity of baseball.  This is why it makes perfect sense to move the Astros to the American League West. What greater way to spur even more excitement and growth than when the games between state geographic rivals will greatly determine the division champion. 

And in the year 2013 of our lord, so sayeth the Commissioner, there shall be interleague play every day. This realignment will also allow the "purists" to adjust even more to the shrinking distinction between National League and American League...  Like the world, baseball evolves slowly.  This is another step in the evolution.  Traditionalists can stop reading now, but the writing is on the wall... This realignment---interleague play every day--- is a step towards MLB centered on geographic rivalries and a step further away from the traditional old days of Senior Circuit v. American League.  Besides to ease away from tradition as I have outlined here, stay tuned for a future post where I  detail some of the labor issues that may have prevented my post-apocalyptic radical realignment from coming to fruition this time around during the CBA process. 

In Realignment and It Feels So Good... Pt.2 we move onto the NHL and why the NHLPA was "cold as ice" to a proposed version of realignment.

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