Results tagged ‘ Tampa ’
Realignment of baseballs teams is not something new, but it’s getting looked at anew after last weeks ESPN report that Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing the options of realignment.
Baseballs first major realignment took place in 1969. Prior to that; each league, American and National, had one division each. From 1901 through the 1968 season each league sent the winner of their division directly to the World Series. And while the overall number of teams in baseball increased slightly from 16 in 1901 to 20 in 1968, the structure of the leagues didn’t alter. But that all changed in 1969 when Major League Baseball expanded with the addition of 4 new teams (Seattle Pilots, KC Royals, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres). Instead of 2 twelve team leagues, each league separated their teams into 2 six team divisions. A new round of playoffs was created and now 4 of the 24 teams made the post-season. Although a couple of teams moved over the next few seasons, Seattle to Milwaukee and Washington to Texas, the leagues remained the same until the next round of expansion.
In 1977 two new ball clubs were added to the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays were added to the AL East and the Seattle Mariners went to the AL West. The American League now had 14 teams and the National League had 12, and this is the way it stayed until 1993 when the NL expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Florida Marlins in the NL East and the Colorado Rockies going to the NL West. But the overall system of two divisions in each league remained unchanged, albeit for only one season.
In 1994 baseball decided to break each of their 14 team leagues into 3 divisions. Each league created the 5 team East and Central divisions, as well as a 4 team West division. With the advent of 3 division champions, the leagues also added a “wild card” team to the playoff structure. Each league would now send 4 teams into the post-season. A new round of playoffs was created, the League Division Series.
This 3 division system is the same that MLB employs now, although since 1994 two new teams have been added, Arizona and Tampa Bay in 1998; one team changed leagues from the AL to the NL, Milwaukee, also in 1998; and another team just moved, Montreal to Washington.
And now we’ve reached 2011 when the talk of realignment has started again. Although there has been sporadic talk over the years of doing something with the league structure, I believe that the current drumbeat to do something is the loudest it’s been. The main reason that this talk is gaining traction is because, according to reports, the Players Union is on board with making a change.
The first thing we should look at is, why? Why realign at all? I think the main reason is fairness, or balance. In the current configuration of teams, at the beginning of any given season a team from the 4 team AL West has a 31.8% chance of making the playoffs while a team from the 6 team NL Central only has a 23.1% chance at post-season. There are other reasons as well, competitive balance and geography to name a few, but those factors are not being looked at in regards to the current realignment proposals.
So if “fairness” is the goal, the obvious solution is to make all divisions equal. But how?
So here are the two potential options being thrown out.
Two leagues of 15 teams, with 3 divisions of 5 in each league. Each league would have 3 division winners and 2 wild cards.
Two leagues of 15 teams, with just one division of 15, the top 5 teams from that league making the post-season.
My initial reaction to both plans was; No, I don’t like it.
With 30 teams, it’s easy to create six 5 team divisions. But that leads to two 15 team leagues. That’s something that baseball has always avoided because of the odd number which makes scheduling league play impossible. But with the advent of inter-league play 15 years ago, the thought of playing teams from the other league during the regular season became a reality and is now common place.
But do we want teams playing inter-league games on the last weekend of the season? And just to be clear, some teams will be playing inter league games then; there’s no way around it. As my friend posed this question to me; The Cubs are 1 behind the Cardinals with three games to play, do you really want to be playing those last three of the season against the Royals? And of course my first reaction was no; that would be horrible. But as I thought about it more I realized that it’s not a valid question. The question presupposes that if it weren’t for the 15 team league and inter-league play throughout the baseball season that the Cubs would be playing the Cardinals on that final weekend. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This year the Cubs end the year against the Padres, not even a division opponent. In fact, of the current 1st and 2nd place teams in the six divisions right now, only 2 of the 6 sets of teams are playing against each other the final weekend of this season. So if the final opponent of the season doesn’t matter in the scheduling, that removes the barrier to leagues with an odd number of teams.
So then the question becomes; One 15 team division or three 5 team divisions?
Again my initial response was, three divisions of five.
Let’s keep the rivalries intact, I want those September Cubs-Cards matchup’s to have extra meaning. But you know what? I was wrong. One of the things that give those games meaning is the close location of the two cities, and that won’t change. The other thing that can make those games special is a tight race in the standings. But they don’t have to be in the same division to be close in the standings. If it’s the last weekend of the season and the Cubs and Cards are tied for the fifth spot in the playoffs, I have a feeling the excitement would be just as great as if the two teams were playing for first in the NL Central.
Think about it this way, we already have the ‘one division’ playoff race right now. Every team in the league currently competes for the wild card spot now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the central or west divisions, if you have the better record, you are in the post-season.
The one division plan also helps alleviate the competitive/economic balance problem. For the past decade the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Rays have been behind the power curve being in the same division as NY and Boston (yes I know Tampa was in the World Series two years ago). But now Toronto could still finish behind both NY and Bos and still make the playoffs.
The thing is, the past two seasons the same 4 teams from each league (3 Div Champs and 1 WC) would have still made the post-season. But in 2008 things would have been different. The LA Dodgers won the NL West with 84 wins, but that was only the 7th best record in the NL overall. The Mets, Astros, Cardinals, and Marlins all had a better record than the Dodgers but didn’t make the post-season because LA was in the weak NL West. The irony here, at least for a Cubs fan, is that the Dodgers swept the “number 1 seed” in the first round of the playoffs that year; of course that number 1 team was the 97 win Cubs.
One of the last issues would be tradition. I’ve talked to a couple of people that say we need to maintain divisions, that they are part of the game. How if we change the system now for “fairness”, it would just be another example of the softening/PC fixing of America. But really, that’s just a matter of perspective. Sure we have had divisions for 40+ years and that’s what everyone is used to, but for the 60+ years before that we only had one division. I’m fairly certain that if the internet was around in the fall of 1968 there would have been plenty of people complaining about how baseball was becoming soft and that they didn’t need any of that ‘flower power hippie stuff’ in their game.
In Conclusion (for all that skipped ahead or those brave enough to have read the entire post), I say baseball should realign. Move one team from the NL to the AL and have just one division of 15 teams with the top 5 teams making the playoffs.
I’d love to hear your opinion and thanks for reading
(Also, this week I will be posting reviews and photos from one White Sox-Mariners game as well as last night’s Cubs-Yankees game)
The Cubs made a splash in the free agent pool Wednesday with
the signing of first baseman Carlos Pena to a reported 1 yr / $10 mil deal.
Last year Pena hit 28 HR’s for the Tampa Rays, but his
batting average was a horrendous .196.
What can the Cubs expect from Pena next year?
Well…..first off, Pena is a Gold Glove winner. So at the
very least the defense at first should be as good if not better than when DLee
was at first.
Second….. The Cubs get the left-handed power in the middle
of the lineup that they have been looking for since……….well, since Fred
McGriff. The question is; how much power? As I said before, Pena hit 28 HR’s
last season, but that number is down from the previous three seasons of
While Pena does now come to a park, Wrigley, that statically
is more advantageous for left-handed power hitters than Tropicana Field was,
there has to be concern that his HR/FB % is down and that his GB% is up. For a
guy with little speed and value mainly as a home run hitter, hitting bouncers
in the infield is not good.
The good news is, he should not hit below .200 again. All statistical
evidence suggests that last year was an anomaly and he should get back up to
the .230-.245 range.
I’ll predict: .240
/ 29HR /
92 RBI / 2 SB
The “I didn’t know that” stat - Only one Cub left-handed hitter has ever hit
more than 33 home runs in a single season. Billy Williams had seasons of 34,
37, and 42.
San Diego Padres played their first game as a franchise on April 8, 1969 at San
Diego Stadium (later named Jack Murphy Stadium and now called Qualcomm) in
front of 23,370 fans.
Dick Selma went the distance for the Padres;
he struck out 12 Astros’ while allowing just five hits and one run in a 2-1
victory. The next night the Padres once again beat Joe Morgan (yes, that Joe Morgan) and the Houston
Astros 2-0, but good luck finding anyone that saw the game in person as just
4,218 showed up. After winning their third straight game on April 10th,
it would be the last time the Padres would be in first place at any point of
any season for the next four years.
Since their inception, the Padres have been essentially a
nondescript ballclub, and I’m not just talking about the jerseys. Over the past
41 years the Friar’s have just 14 winning seasons and currently have the second
worst winning percentage (.436) of any franchise in baseball, just ahead of the
Yes they have been to the World Series twice, which is two
more times than the Cubs have made the series in the last forty years; but they
are 0-2, winning just 1 game and losing 8.
Their first appearance in the World Series is probably the
one most remembered by Cubs fans. In 1984 the Cubs and Padres met in the NL
Championship Series for a chance to play the Tigers in the WS. The Cubs won the
first two games in the best of five series before losing the final three to the
Padres. San Diego advanced to the World Series where they lost to Detroit 4
games to one.
The Padres also made it to the WS in 1998, they were swept
in four games by the New York Yankees.
Why go through a brief history of the Padres? To illustrate
that the Padres are not a team of pedigree.
Yesterday the Cubs lost to the Padres for the fourth
straight time in Wrigley Field. Over the last 41 seasons no matter how bad or
good either the Cubs or San Diego has been, San Diego has never swept a four
game series at Wrigley. Never. And I was there to see it. Well some of it anyway.
I took my daughters to the game and one of them wasn’t feeling well so we left
after three innings.
I really have avoided writing about the team recently
because they are just hard to watch.
Over the years I’ve seen some bad Cub teams, we all have.
But this is a team that I really thought had a chance to make the playoffs. That’s what makes it so frustrating. I know we can’t expect
postseason every year, they didn’t make it last year, but that team still had a
winning record. This may be the worst Cub team I have seen because of the
expectations that I and other fans had. Maybe we were just being blind to the
facts, but this really is bad.
Anyway now that they have lost 10 of the last 11 at Wrigley,
the Atlanta Braves and Derrek Lee come into town.
So………………………Let’s go get ‘em!
Here are a few pictures from yesterday.
In my last post I mentioned TaterTrotTracker. Well last night David Ortiz set a new high
(low). It took him a full 30+ seconds to get around the bases after his 2nd
Just for comparison. Here is the fastest non inside-the-park
homer hit by Adam Rosales at just under 16 seconds. BTW, Rosales’ “trot” is
faster than two inside-the-park homers hit this year. Again, this info comes from TaterTrotTracker.
I’m not a fan of pitchers hitting batters because the guy
hit a homer off you, but at some point David Ortiz is going to get one in the
ribs after his leisurely trots.
The “I didn’t know that” stat – David Ortiz has 326 career Home Runs. 283 as a DH, 42 as a
first baseman, and 1 as a Pinch Hitter.