Guest Author - Joe Mancini
These days it seems like everyone’s got an idea on how to reorganize Major League Baseball. Just last week on MLB Network John Hart gave his realignment suggestions…not bad but as usual there were some teams (like the San Diego Padres) left “out in the cold” at a distant remove from other divisional rivals.
Well here on BellaOnline you’re going to be the first to read the first proposal that actually makes sense for MLB. One that preserves natural rivalries, reduces travel, and allows for compelling pennant races and playoffs. Lucky you!
Since the Lockout that aborted the 1994 season (and no I haven’t forgiven the Commissioner for that, it is a blot on his record forever), the notions of “National League” and “American League” have become less and less relevant, quaint even. With unbalanced leagues, different rules, and odd-sized divisions, baseball fans put up with incongruities the other sports don’t present. It is time to address these concerns, and my proposal does it.
Since 1901 the American and National Leagues have co-existed as “separate but equal” institutions with their own governance, leadership, scheduling and officiating. Differences between the leagues were distinct and rather obvious, from the outer chest protector worn by AL umps that resulted in “high-strike” calls to the idea (still extant) that the NL is more of a “fastball league”. The World Series itself was arrived at by negotiation between the two leagues, commencing in 1903 then failing to ignite in 1904 as the New York Giants refused to play the Boston Americans before finally taking hold in 1905.
The Presidencies of the leagues were actual administrative positions, elected by the owners; it wasn’t until the post-“Black Sox” era that a Commissioner was appointed to oversee all of MLB. Today these roles are purely ceremonial with all power, the umpires, etc. in the hands of the Commissioner’s office.
Until the dawn of the Designated Hitter era, the leagues played the same game; since then we have the disproportionalities and inequalities this feature has caused. Imagine the NFL where one conference, say, had the two-point conversion but not the other, or an NBA where one conference had the three-point shot but not the other: such absurdities would never be tolerated.
I will readily admit that I don’t like the DH, I think it creates a different game with less strategy and fewer choices especially late in games; on the other hand, the DH gave Jim Thome the chance to reach the 600 Home Run plateau (congratulations Big Jim!) and would not be lightly surrendered by the MLB Players’ Association who like having higher-salary jobs for established veterans available. So the first thing is I will say we have the DH everywhere now and forever. Am I happy about it? No. Am I resigned to its necessity? Yes.
The next things that will have to go are the separate leagues. We don’t need them anymore. They are simply in the way of a rational, workable realignment. And next week I will unveil that realignment. Stay tuned!