As The Big Lead has pointed out many times this season, the big market teams are destroying the standings right now. Of the top seven teams salary wise, only the New York Mets are not realistically in their division or wild card race. Here is how the rest of those teams stack up:
1. New York Yankees – 1st place in the AL East
3. Chicago Cubs – 2nd place in the NL Central – 2 games back
4. Boston Red Sox – 2nd place in the AL East – tied for AL Wild Card Lead
5. Detroit Tigers – 1st place in AL Central
6. Los Angeles Angels – 1st place in AL West
7. Philadelphia Phillies – 1st place in NL East
The other division leaders are the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West (9th in salary) and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central (13th in salary). The San Fransisco Giants (14th in salary) and Colorado Rockies (18th in salary) are currently tied for the NL Wild Card.
So if the season ended yesterday, all eight of the teams that made the playoffs would be in the top 14 on the MLB salary list, and six would be in the top 10.
Many believe that a salary clap would be the way to fix baseball, giving each team an equal amount of cash, making each franchise rely on drafting and developing in house talent instead of going out and throwing millions of dollars at every free agent on the market. While the owners would love the idea because it puts extra money in their pockets, the players would never let such a proposal pass when they vote on the matter.
That leaves another logical option to fix the advantage that the big market teams have over the small market teams that I have come up with: Put the big spenders in one division and the cheaper teams in the other.
Switching teams within their divisions to put all of the heavy duty salary teams to compete against each other, and it would allow the underdogs to have a better shot at making a miracle run at a World Championship. While it is even more spectacular that the Rays got to the World Series last year in the toughest division in baseball, they have already fallen out of the top two this season and one would have to believe they have no shot at resigning Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, or David Price when they are due for new contracts.
In my new plan, this is how the new divisions will shape up (each team’s spot on the salary list on the right):
New York Yankees (1)
New York Mets (2)
Boston Red Sox (4)
Philadelphia Phillies (7)
Atlanta Braves (11)
Toronto Blue Jays (16)
Baltimore Orioles (23)
Tampa Bay Rays (25)
Washington Nationals (27)
Pittsburgh Pirates (28)
Florida Marlins (30)
Analysis: As you can see, it’s by the book. I just switched the teams according to their ranks on the salary list and added the Pirates. Pittsburgh to the East brings up a nice interleague play rivalry with the Phillies, and they are really in the East any ways. Putting them in the East, means this is the second division in baseball with six teams. The main rivalries: Yankees-Red Sox virtually stays the same and the two New York teams playing more times. This also adds two constant geographical rivalries with the Nats-Orioles and Marlins-Rays playing in the same general region.
Chicago Cubs (3)
Detroit Tigers (5)
Houston Asros (8)
Chicago White Sox (12)
St. Louis Cardinals (15)
Cleveland Indians (15)
Milwaukee Brewers (17)
Cincinnati Reds (20)
Kansas City Royals (21)
Texas Rangers (22)
Minnesota Twins (24)
Analysis: I added the Rangers because like the Pirates, they really belong in the Central. Again the main rivalries are not diminished, the Cubs and White Sox will play more, and the Cubs and Cardinals stay the same. The Rangers and Astros can still play for the Silver Boot and the Royals and Cardinals can still battle for Missouri.
Los Angeles Angels (6)
Los Angeles Dodgers (9)
Seattle Mariners (10)
San Fransisco Giants (14)
Colorado Rockies (18)
Arizona Diamondbacks (19)
Oakland Athletics (26)
San Diego Padres (29)
Analysis: Just like the other divisions, the main rivalries remain alive, the Dodgers and Angels will play more and the Giants and Dodgers will play a normal amount. Also, the Athletics and Giants can still battle for Bay Bridge. Since I moved the Rangers to the Central, both West divisions will have four teams.
So, in the end, we’ve moved two teams to new divisions, the Pirates to the East and the Rangers to the Central, and moved 16 teams to new leagues.
Of course, as soon as I thought of the idea, I knew that the biggest argument against, or who would argue against it, would be the baseball purists. This idea would most likely be blasphemy to them because of all of the traditions that might be lost. However, if you live in Milwaukee and you want to see your team compete for a long period of time – I’m talking to you, Selig. – this would be the best way.