The Steinbrenner Proposal

On September 24, 2008, in General, by Neil Stevens

So Steinbrenner (Hank) wants to get rid of divisions, and just have a single set of NL and AL standings, with the top four teams going to the formerly-known-as-Division Series.

Now half the Internet seems ready to call this sour grapes, but as he points out, the Yankees still wouldn’t get in under his idea at the time he proposed it (though the Yankees may yet pass the White Sox).

Personally, I have no strong baseball objection to his plan. Getting even scheduling would be a chore, but I’m guessing it could be done, and the result should be the four best teams getting in every year. However to do it you’d have to get rid of two innovations which surely have helped the economic boom in the MLB: interleague play and the unbalanced divisional schedules.

I think you have to respect Hank’s proposal when you realize that to get his plan, he’d probably lose out on a ton of hype for his team, as the Yankees would get to play the Red Sox a whole lot less, since they’d have to play the Central and Western teams more. You have to balance the schedules within each league to have a fair league-wide set of standings.

But I do disagree with the idea, and it’s for just that reason. To go to a balanced single-league schedule, you hurt the rivalries, the playoff races, and the business. A playoff race with the racing teams never playing each other would be terrible, but with the unbalanced schedule it’s guaranteed you’ll at least get in a few games as they fight for the division title.

I could do without Interleague, but apparently Dodgers/Angels, Cubs/White Sox, Mets/Yankees, and similar matchups make good enough money that it’s just silly even to consider dropping it.

So I don’t like the Steinbrenner proposal, but I don’t think it’s as self-centered as it’s often portrayed.


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