MLB Premier League

MLB Premier League

MLB NetworkI started a “discussion” on a sports site called Fannation about the so-called small market teams, (which are small revenue teams), and the large market teams (large revenue). I wanted to get rid of ten of the present thirty teams in MLB. Not really contract them, per se, but by using the way British soccer is formed, create a Premier League and then three lower tier leagues. Unfortunately, I was careless, had a brain freeze, and did not really think the whole scenario out properly and absurdly eliminated both Chicago teams among other inanities and suffered the wrath of the “contributors” to the discussion in no uncertain or very kind terms.

Be that as it may I still believe the idea has merit and will now proceed to outline in a more clear, well processed and precise form.

First, the teams that would remain in the Premier league and why:

mets yankeesBoth New York teams, Yankees and Mets: Because frankly New York can support both team easily and both teams have relatively strong owners in place already. In fact, New York easily at one time supported three teams in its immediate metropolitan area. Both teams have brand spanking new shiny coliseums in place that can produce the necessary revenues for acquiring and paying talent and sustaining their teams as a viable financial entity. And both teams have marketability and a large following nationally, especially the Yankees.

Both Chicago teams: As with New York, each team is financially stable and has in place venues that can sustain creating future revenues for the acquisition of and payment to talent. The White Sox have a relatively new stadium that has been “fixed” so that it is able to create and sustain revenues. And, the Cubs under their new ownership are about to embark upon a total remodeling and modernization of Wrigley so that it will be updated with all the necessary amenities a team needs to create and sustain revenues for its future marketability. Each also has relatively stable and financially sound owners in place, also.

Both Los Angeles teams:  As with the previous four teams, these two teams have good sound nucleuses in place and have venues that can either sustain future earnings to keep the teams sound on the field as well as financially. The one caveat is the ownership situation with the Dodgers but the Angels owner seems to be very stable and able to meet his debt obligations on a timely and reasonable basis.

SeattleThe next team to be admitted to the Premier MLB is Seattle: Seattle with its Nintendo ownership is in a comfortable place financially to meet any monetary obligations. It also has a built in marketability that appeals to the heavy Asian demographic on the Pacific coast. Seattle until only recently, has been on the plus side in its ledgers. And even its recent losses have still been relatively in the low millions, which is essentially in an economic sense, a wash.

Boston: Fenway like Wrigley is a strong venue that has been, and can be in the future, remodeled with the necessary amenities and seating to create and sustain revenues for the team to remain strong financially and on the field. The fans of the Red Sox are widespread, dedicated, and tenacious in their loyalty and support of their hometown nine.

Philadelphia: With a relatively new fan friendly venue in Citizen’s Bank Park going nowhere, and its recent string of success in the NL East bolstering what was already a large and loyal fanbase, this team and organization have the tools to be successful and consistently competitive both in the ledgers and on the diamond.

St Louis, San Francisco and Baltimore: Each of these teams has it negatives but overall each also exists in a strong and sustaining market that can supply the necessary revenues to put a competitive team on the field.

So far seven teams have filled each division of this new Premier league, the AL and the NL.

The next eight teams are very open to debate but are in specific order in my opinion: Minnesota, Atlanta, Cleveland, Washington, San Diego, Colorado, Cincinnati and Houston.  Why these eight teams and not some others? For these reasons: Each team had reported, according to Forbes, double digit operating income near or over $20 million. Each team has established itself in its market area. And each team has a viable financial owner in place.

The two divisions, the AL and the NL, would then be:

NY Yankees NY Mets
Boston Red Sox LA Dodgers
LA Angles Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox Philadelphia Phillies
Seattle Mariners St. Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins San Francisco Giants
Cleveland Indians Houston Astros
Washington Nationals San Diego Padres
Baltimore Orioles Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds Colorado Rockies


Now remember there are other tiers or leagues that will be in place that can earn their way into the Premier league when ever an opening becomes available because of a team that is in the Premier League not staying strong on the field or competitively and finishing as one of the last three teams.

Premier LeagueA short synopsis and history lesson is necessary: The English football league system is a set of interconnected leagues for club football (soccer) in England.  The system has a format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, and allows even the smallest club to dream of rising to the very top of the system. In England there are over 140 leagues, containing over 480 divisions. However, I am not even thinking of advocating such an unwieldy system, so bear with me here.

According to Wikipedia:

“At the close of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league was tabled that would bring more money into the game overall. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game’s top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League. The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements.

In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the FA Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association’s then headquarters in Lancaster Gate. This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.”

Now, my proposal is this: Disband MLB as it is presently constituted and reform thusly: One Premier Major Baseball League (Premier MBL) comprised of the twenty teams above and then using the remaining ten MLB teams and the existing Triple A and Double A minor leagues create a lower level of three leagues with twenty teams in each league.

marlinsEach year the following process would then take place: The three teams that finish at the bottom of the Premier MBL at the end of the season will be relegated to the next lower league and these teams will be replaced by three teams which are promoted from the next level of play. The top two teams in the next division automatically earn advancement into the Premier League while the next four teams have a double elimination playoff for the third spot. This process is repeated down through the other leagues.

This way allows any team who can earn its way into the Premier League a window of opportunity.

Television contracts would be negotiated by the incorporated Premier MBL and revenues divided equally by all the teams. Luxury suite and venue revenues such as concessions and sponsorships/advertising would be kept by each teams’ ownership consortium.

The season would be 154 games with mandatory Sunday doubleheaders. The Premier League playoff would consist of the top four teams playing the best of seven series in a two-two-two-one format. . There would be no days off between games within each set of games but there would be an off day for travel between each set of games.

There would be no revenue sharing outside of the shared TV money. Free agency would remain intact.

richie richBaseball as it currently exists in the present MLB structure is becoming anachronistic. The days of the old system, where small revenue/market teams could exist primarily because of the reserve clause in MLB is no longer viable. Baseball as it is now, with its partial reserve clause in place, and its socialized business system of the rich teams giving to the so-called poor teams has become a hindrance to MLB teams as a business and as a sport. The system I propose will allow any team to earn its way into the Premier league and compete for the top rank or championship of that league. It is by far a more sporting concept and it is still a system where an owner can get exactly what he is seeking from owning a team: immense ego gratification if his team wins and a sizeable contribution to his bank account or bottom line.

The three lower tiers would look something like this: (these are all presently existing teams)

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Kansas City Royals Pittsburgh Pirates Rochester Red Wings Portland Beavers Carolina Mudcats Binghamton Mets
Arizona D’backs Toronto Blue Jays Charlotte Knights Tacoma Rainiers Chattanooga Lookouts New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Texas Rangers Detroit Tigers Durham Bulls Fresno Grizzlies Huntsville Stars Portland Sea Dogs
Oakland Athletics Florida Marlins Gwinnet Braves Sacramento River Rats Tennessee Smokies Reading Phillies
Indianapolis Indians Milwaukee Brewers Norfolk Tides Round Rock Express Birmingham Barons Trenton Thunder
Louisville Bats Tampa Bay Rays Scranton Yankees Oklahoma City Red Hawks Jacksonville Suns Akron Aeros
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Buffalo Bisons Syracuse Chiefs Albuquerque Isotopes Mississippi Braves Altoona Curve
Las Vegas 51s Syracuse Chiefs Columbus Clippers Omaha Royals Mobile Bay Bears Bowie Baysox
Reno Aces Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs New Orleans Zephyrs Memphis Red Birds Montgomery Biscuits Erie SeaWolves
Salt Lake Bees Pawtucket Red Sox Nashville Sounds Iowa (Des Moines) Cubs West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx Richmond Flying Squirrels


Submitted 2/1/09

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  1. Joe,

    This is perhaps a little better than the previous FN post, but is still based on a false premise. The top tier should represent the best teams as measured by their current records — whether the top tier league is newly formed or has experienced decades of existence. But you based the construction of the proposed top tier of baseball primarily on market. This leads to several problems.

    As one of a number of examples, compare your Yankees to my Tigers. You have the Yankees firmly in the AL even though their recent record could hardly justify it. Yet the Tigers which have won four straight AL Central titles (and are currently gunning for a fifth) are ranked in a lower tier (Tier 1). Note that the AL Central is considered by some to be the toughest division in MLB. (Another slight is to the KC Royals, also an AL Central team that made it to the World Series last year.)

    My own reaction is that you are afflicted with the “(East) Coast Virus” which downgrades every team not in a coastal market (and ranks the east coast teams higher than the west coast teams by default). After all, selecting caliber baseball using the market criterion is nothing more that the coastal bias frequently exhibited by sportswriters.

    I suggest that you rethink your initial MLB proposal and stress the current records (including adjusting performance evaluations in terms of the strength of their (division) opponents. You might just be surprised at what teams are included and what teams are left out.

  2. As a soccer fan, who is well aware of the English Premier League, as well as the promotion and relegation system of practically every soccer league (except for the U.S.A.’s MLS), I actually love this idea. It would make the end of a MLB season a hell of a lot more exciting.

    Sign me up. I would love to see a scenario where the Milwaukee Brewers (for example) are fighting off relegation and a situation where some minor league club like the Las Vegas 51s would have a shot at playing in the next MLB season.

  3. my premise is based on the fact you need to start somewhere an d I started with what I see as the most stable economic teams. After that we can then use the teams actual performances on the field of play… which as you can see is built into the format with teams being demoted each year and teams being promoted each year.

  4. and, wait un momento prego!…
    1) As David says this was originally written in 2009 and is just a template, if you would, of how things could be formulated
    2) False premise???? Best teams available??? Yankees if you haven’t noticed are in 1st place in their division and their present record is 1 measly game behind the Tiggers… The Yankees are perennially in the playoffs and usually just a game or two out of the playoffs when they don’t make the post season. Can Detroit make that same claim over the last 20 years or so?
    3) And my Coast Bias… 9 of my proposed Premier teams are from the middle of the US! Almost half!

    In short… fergeddaboudit…

  5. It’s not crazy at all Joe. I just think it’s a system most Americans don’t find American. If that makes any sense. For some reason you take anything from the soccer world, like corporate sponsorships on the shirt, and Americans tend to lose their minds and call it batshit crazy.

    Personally I don’t get that line of thinking.

    However, I love the proposal, and even if it is 6 years old, I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

  6. Baseball if nothing else is as much about tradition as anything else. There is no other sport that is a heaped with tradition as baseball and as such this type of scenario goes directly against those deep rooted tradition and it is that “traditional” aspect of baseball that does make it sound asinine to older fans like myself.

    Let’s face it; in a premier league as indicated those larger market teams like the Yankees and Dodgers could EASILY buy their way into the league every year and then those teams like KC would have to me dogging just for their spot in the league the next year.

    You would lose those Cinderella seasons. You would lose ALL of the stars to those larger market teams, (even if they would have to settle for less money). And the fact that those superstars of the league were willing to take less to stay in the premier league, then what happens to the smaller market team? They NEVER play their way in.

  7. Truth be told that is exactly the case in the EPL where Man United, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and to a lesser extent Liverpool and Tottenham through their financial weight around.

    The real drama comes at the bottom of the table, not the top of it. As far as never playing your way in, you kind of have to in a relegation system. You just wouldn’t be able to maintain yourself once you’re in.

  8. With respect to the promotion and relegation system, I approve of it (although perhaps with some minor tweaks). My issue is with the initial formulation of the tiers.

    1) I don’t see how bad premises in 2009 become good premises in 2015.

    2) So the current Yankees are almost as good as the current Tigers Yet your initial construction of the tiers has the Yankees in the highest tier and the Tigers lower than them.

    If the tiers are to represent the last measure of quality performance, then they should be initially be constructed of the most immediately prior seasonal performance. Presumably this means that all teams which made the previous yearly playoffs should be included in the top tier.

    I really do not see what the nature of the market has to do with things. Big markets have not necessarily produced stability (cf Dodgers, Giants, Senators-1, Senators-2), nor have smaller markets necessarily been unstable (cf. Reds, Cubs, Indians, Tigers).

    Why not construct the first year’s tier on the basis of the previous year’s records. Isn’t that what would be done once promotion and relegation is implemented.

  9. Well, in one respect this column was a success… it certainly stimulated a dialogue….

  10. The premise wasn’t bad in 2009 nor is it bad now… it’s arguable how the twenty teams would be set up but this my system… and my proposal… obviously there would be a long debate about what would happen and who was in or out but what would probably occur is that 20 teams would just separate itself from MLB and set up the initial Premier League and then we would see what we would see… hopefully a system similar to what happened in Britain and their football league would also occur in the States.

    Be careful there because if I’m the emperor of the universe I might relegate your tiggers to the C league…

  11. Not sure how that worked in the EPL but, IMO, except in only a few circumstances buying a bunch of good to great players doesn’t really work in MLB… you need players that can join together and play like a well oiled machine… i.e. as a team.

  12. Just for arguments sake… if, we went by 2014 records compared to my choices this is how it would shake out… (the capitalized teams are my choices that would not be in the Premier League)…

    Interestingly the 2014 record teams show more “coast bias” than I supposedly did and there is a difference of 8 teams… .and note that the Yanks and the Mets make both listings. so there… 😉

    But again this is all arguable and I don’t see how teams like the Red Sox (as much as do I hate them I still wouldn’t deny them), Cubbies, White Sox and Phillies aren’t in the initial Premier League.

    2014 Record My Choice
    Baltimore Orioles Baltimore Orioles
    NY Yankees NY Yankees
    Detroit Tigers BOSTON RED SOX
    LA Angels LA Angels
    Oakland Athletics HOUSTON ASTROS
    Cleveland Indians Cleveland Indians
    Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners
    Tampa Bay Rays CHICAGO WHITE SOX

    Washington Nationals Washington Nationals
    NY Mets NY Mets
    St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
    Pittsburgh Pirates CINCINNATI REDS
    LA Dodgers LA Dodgers
    San Francisco Giants San Francisco Giants
    Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
    Milwaukee Brewers COLORADO ROCKIES
    San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
    Miami Marlins CHICAGO CUBS

  13. There is one other aspect left out here, has anyone ever wondered why there is NOT a draft in the EPL?

    Same thing would be the problem in MLB under this premise.

  14. Doesn’t work well in the EPL either. Case in point, my team Manchester United. Finished 7th last season. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean it equals consistent chemistry and good perfomance.

  15. No need for a draft. There are academies in the EPL. The idea is for the players to be homegrown, meaning kids sign up with the local club at a young age. Most clubs see those same kids who sign up eventually break through and play at the big club. However, in the case of the big clubs many of those kids don’t end up with the big club once they mature.

    It’s really no different than the international scouting pool to be honest. A club can sign a kid from the Dominincan or whatever at age 16. Not all of those kids pan out.

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