Reasonable people can disagree. (So can unreasonable people, but that tends to get too contentious for daily life. Anyway.)
Not everyone will agree with my assessment of the various proposals being passed back and forth between the MLB Players Association and the league management. But I’m willing to accept the validity of their views, and I’d hope they’ll do likewise in return.
Because, see, I’ve got a few proposals of my own that I think would go a long way to improving baseball. What do you think of these ideas?
- Expand the MLBPA to cover the minor leagues. Many of baseball’s problems can be traced to the minors. Currently, there’s no unified voice that can speak for players without major league contracts. As a result, the players are unquestionably underpaid–well below the federal minimum wage–with no ability to negotiate better deals and they have far fewer opportunities to develop themselves off the field. For all its faults, the MLBPA could give them that voice. And, as an added bonus, including minor league players in the collective bargaining agreements would give them a say in the deployment of new rules (i.e. their working conditions), something that’s currently the sole province of the major league owners.
- Expand the major leagues. Specifically, add one team each to the AL and NL. That would give sixteen teams in each league, greatly simplifying scheduling and potentially allow a return to the earlier practice of having everyone in interleague play at the same time, something that was popular with the fans; certainly more popular than the current arrangement which has one interleague game every day. For reasons I’ll discuss in the next point, I’d like to see the new teams in Vancouver and Las Vegas (although Portland would be an acceptable alternative).
- Realign. Sixteen teams across three divisions isn’t going to work. Better to have four divisions of four teams in each league. In order to maximize the value of geographic rivalries, and better balance the amount each team must travel over the course of the season, I’d suggest that the divisions break from the current time zone orientation and go to the compass points instead:
AL East NL East Baltimore Washington Boston Philadelphia NY Yankees NY Mets Toronto Pittsburgh AL West NL West Anaheim Los Angeles Vancouver (or Portland) Arizona Oakland San Francisco Seattle San Diego AL South NL South Texas Atlanta Houston Las Vegas Kansas City St. Louis Miami Tampa AL North NL North Chicago Sox Chicago Cubs Cleveland Cincinnati Detroit Colorado Minnesota Milwaukee
Vancouver would not only give a local rival for Seattle, but also a Canadian cross-country rival to the Blue Jays, who’ve had the Land of the Maple Leaf to themselves since the Expos abandoned Montreal. Portland, on the other hand, would mean even less travel for the AL West teams, while still providing the Mariners with local arch-villains. That’s certainly working well in soccer, where Portland and Seattle have one of the league’s great rivalries.
Las Vegas, of course, is a natural, given their current expansionistic ways in sports. Perhaps they’re a little too far west for maximum convenience in the South–and there are a few other geographical compromises in my proposed alignments–but certainly there’s nothing worse than the current arrangement, which has two Texas teams in the AL West.
- Shorten the season. Not much. Just enough to sneak a few more rest days into the calendar. Along with the above expansion and realignment, schedules could break down like this:
- 13 games against each division rival
- 5 games against each of the other teams in their league
- 5 games against each team in the same division of the opposite league (i.e. AL North vs. NL North)
- 3 games against each of the other other-league teams (home one season, on the road the next so we don’t have one game road trips)
That would be 155 games, hearkening back to the pre-expansion 154-game season. With proper timing, and perhaps an occasional double-header, that could allow for six or seven more days off scattered throughout the year.
Agree? Disagree? Can we at least be reasonable?