Expansion in MLB @ MLBRT 3/2



Rob Manfred

There has recently been some noise that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is open to expanding MLB again. This time it would be by two teams. If, that were the case then, that would set the stage for what would be presumably two 16 team leagues with 4 divisions in each league.

This week’s questions for the Roundtable crew are largely devoted to issues surrounding the theoretically expansion of MLB…

1) If, MLB added 2 teams and then created 2 leagues of 16 teams each there could now be a balanced scheduling of teams within each league without the need for interleague play.

If, that were the case would you prefer that interleague games be done entirely away with or continue on in some manner going forward?

Archie: Interleague games were “cute” and they only lasted for about a week when they were first introduced. Now, they are just plain annoying and last all summer long. I am almost up for anything that would eliminate them.

If, MLB expands should interleague games be abolished?

Dan: No, there’s absolutely no way that I’m eliminating inter-league play. It has been a tremendous thing that happened to baseball while adding it and to eliminate it would take a step back. It made it more fun for everybody once it got integrated into the schedule each season. The fans love it because they get to see teams they normally wouldn’t get to see in person, and, the players love it because they go to ballparks and cities they normally wouldn’t have gone to unless they switched teams or faced that opponent in the World Series.

Keep inter-league play! It needs to stay!

Earl: I’d be okay with some interleague play. For example, I would have no problem with the Subway Series continuing, and for teams to play a main rival in the opposite league, but I would be against an entire schedule since doing so does take some games away for potential division rivalries. If there is a limited interleague schedule I would be all for it.

I am fine with interleague play, but, I would actually like to see them stay within their league.

Until such time as the rules are the same for both leagues, I think the National League should play the National League and the American League play the American League. That way you get a World Series between two teams that have not played each other that season, and, that can be more exciting to watch.

For the following questions keep in mind a probable two leagues with a 16-team, 4 division format for MLB...

2) If, there were 4 division winners in each league there would no longer be a need for the wild card any more as the first round of the playoffs could now have each division winner playing another division winner and then the winner of each of those series playing in the League Championship Series.  

Do you think using this potential format and being rid of the wild card is a good idea or bad idea and why? 

Archie: Problem solved, no need for a Wild Card anything anymore. While most teams will bitch about not having an additional chance to make the playoffs, it would be like the old days where you WON your division to go to the playoffs. Unless, of course, MLB decides to expand the playoffs as well, like the NBA or NHL. Then that would bring up the discussion of shortening the season, again.

Dan: Personally, I’m not a fan of getting rid of the Wild Card but the playoffs would have six teams from each division in it and I think that’s a little much. It adds too much to an already very long post-season (not that I’m not a fan of more baseball). The Wild Card is a nice addition with the current structure there is now, but, if, each league would have 16 teams, then you’d have to just take the divisional winners. See how that goes.

If, there’s a need, or, an extremely heavy want, then, I’d say we can push for two Wild Cards like what the NFL has.

Earl: This, I am fully in favor of.

The Wildcard does add a little drama down the stretch, but, it seems so unfair to play a 162 game season and then have it all come down to the one Wildcard game. The loser of that game really gets the shaft in the current scenario. At least four division winners give the four teams a chance to have the full playoff experience.

Steve: I never liked the wild card game to begin with, so, if, there is a way to get rid of it, I am all for it.

With four teams in each division, that gives all the teams a fair shot at winning that division. I think division races would be more exciting down the stretch. While I am not thrilled with expansion, in this case, I would embrace it to get rid of the wild-card play in game. A one in done in Baseball just isn’t fair.

3) In the case of the new 4 division winner playoff format, would it be more desirable to have two 5-game series in the 1st round and then a 7-game LCS or to have 7-game series in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the playoffs in each league? Why?

Archie: Each division winner would supposedly be on a level playing field so let’s begin by saying two 7 game formats. That way a team with two All Star pitchers would NOT be able to dominate a short series.

Dan: I think that they need to all be even throughout the whole playoffs, so I’m in favor of a seven-game series for each round. Keep it even, keep it entertained and give each team an ample opportunity to win each divisional series. Five games is too short in my opinion.

No playoff series should ever be five games in my opinion for NBA, NHL or MLB. Make every round seven games. More baseball, more entertainment, more money and more opportunities for comebacks/upsets.

Earl: Two five game series are fine enough.

If, you stretch it to seven games, you might end up pushing the season even further into early November than necessary. Two five game series, and, then the remaining rounds at seven games are fine enough.

 I like the current format with the Division series being 5 games, the LCS and World Series being 7 game series. I could even get on board with a 5 game LCS, if people have their panties in a bunch with the 162 game schedule. This works well for Baseball and it should not be changed…. period! ( That was my best Rafael Palmeiro impersonation )

4) If, the league playoff series were all 7-games would this be a good time for MLB to seriously consider returning to a 154-game regular season schedule? In fact, even if the 5-game divisional series and then a 7-game league series playoff format were used would it still be a good time to consider going back to the 154-game schedule? Why or why not?

Archie: Good time to consider maybe but I don’t really like the idea. Let’s do this, let’s shorten the amount of time it takes to actually play a 7-game series. It should not take 11-12 days to get in 7 frigging games even with travel.

If, MLB expands… 154 Games? 162 Games? Should MLB Change Its Schedule?

Two games away, three at home, two games away with two travel days; that’s it! Nine days total. I really don’t want to hear bitching about rest. It’s baseball let’s get back to old school. The bullshit TV time will just have to adapt.

Dan: No, keep the season at 162 games. There’s no reason to switch back down to a 154-game format. The format that they have right now, including the playoffs, works just fine. Keep the schedule the same.

If, it does start to become a problem, then maybe we can look into it at a future date. But starting out, it needs to remain at 162 games. No reason to switch it or shorten it. It could end up costing some teams a playoff spot. More games, more money and more excitement.

Earl: If, the first round has to be seven games, then switching to a 154 game schedule makes sense so that the baseball season can end around the same time it does currently. I’m not in favor of pushing it even further into November, because the weather in certain parts of the country can be down right dreadful in November and the World Series does not need to be decided on a 30 degree night in New York (for example).

Steve: I like the 162 schedule, and, I don’t think they should change that.

The 154 schedule changed to a 162-game schedule, and, then when the records started to fall, and, people made a huge fuss over who actually owned the record. If, MLB went back to 154-games and a player broke a record that was owned during the 162 game schedule, then you are setting your self up again for people to argue over who actually owns said record. While doing in a shorter time frame would win that argument, there still would be debate.

5) If, MLB does expand, should MLB consider adding one, or even both teams, with a franchise in South America…  for example, San Juan or Mexico City? Or, is this an idea that should wait for a future time? Why or why not?

Archie: HELL NO.

San Juan would be small market at best, with anywhere from 4 hours to possibly 9 hour flights to get there (Seattle). The economy sucks there with the poverty level of 45%  and worsening. Poverty level for Mexico City is even worse at about 47% even with their 21.2 million people. Asking folks in either of these cities to pony up MLB ticket prices would be ridiculous. For a $20 ticket, $3 beer and $1 hotdog, that is equivalent to a full week’s paycheck to the minimum wage worker in Mexico City. The median household income in San Juan is $22K per year. That means they have $405 dollars a week to live on. How many $50 per person tickets do you think they will buy in a single season?

Oklahoma is by no means rich, but, the median income there is $48K per year, just for comparison. I am sure that either city would come out in droves the first couple of seasons or so , but let them go four or five years without winning and you would soon see them have to move just for due to the economics.

Dan: No, I don’t think so. And, definitely not South America (even though Mexico City and San Juan are not part of South America). A lot of it has to do with the difference between currency as well as safety concerns and there’s a lot of players who probably don’t want to live south of the United States border for various reasons including safety, etc…

And, while there are a lot of Hispanic/Caribbean/Latino players, I don’t know if there’s enough support down south of the US border to get a team. You have to worry about fans, safety, etc… television contracts.

Then the currency. The peso is considerably less than the United States dollar, so how do you equal out pay for tickets, etc… ? Then consider the salaries.

Then you need security because of the corrupt government of Mexico.

In short… it’s a lot of hassle. Keep it in the United States. There’s a lot of cities who would want an MLB team and the team would thrive attendance wise. For the record, I’d like to put it out there that I’m against expansion to 32 teams. But, I’m sure that’s for another time and another debate.

Earl: I’d be against this.

There are markets in the United States that could fully support a Major League Baseball team. Charlotte would be a decent market. As would Portland. I think Las Vegas can work, if the Oakland Raiders can bring professional sports to town.

Steve: I would be fine with Mexico or somewhere relatively close to the United States. When you start outsourcing outside of North America, you are opening a whole new can of worms. Travel would be rough, scheduling would be a nightmare, and, players would complain about having to travel so much.

Keep it inside North America, and, I think, it could be interesting to see.

Extra Innings…

Thirty-one days… 31… until Opening Day…

That’s April 2nd.

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