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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Re-align NOW, before expansion.

There's no need to wait for the inevitable money grab of charging exorbitant sums for two new teams to join the Major Baseball League (MBL). The league can clean up the mess created by the previous commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig.

Remember Selig speaking about the difficulty of the schedule. Buddy seemed tortured trying to come up with solutions each year. Some reasons:
- pretending there were still two leagues after they had merged in 1994, officially 1999
- letting that further impact the schedule by insisting on imaginary "interleague" games
- after expansion in 1993 and 1998 going from two divisions in each league to three in what were then really conferences within one league.

In 1992:
National League (NL): six teams in each of two divisions
American League (AL): seven teams in each of two divisions

The key is having, not an even number of teams in each division, although that is useful, but having the SAME number of teams in each division in a league/conference. And also having at least SIX teams in a division. That's where Selig was off, way off.

In 1993 the NL added a team to each of its divisions:
- Florida in the East
- Colorado in the West.

Still OK. Now NL = AL.  Then in 1994 for some bizarre reason Selig had each "league" split its 14 teams into three divisions sized 5, 5, 4. NL West was now:
Los Angeles
San Francisco
San Diego

AL West:
Angels, then known as California

Arizona (NL West) and Tampa (AL East) were added in 1998. To "balance" things, Selig moved the team he owned (Milwaukee) from AL Central to NL Central, moved Detroit from AL East to AL Central to replace Milwaukee and replaced Detroit with Tampa.

Selig continued to jerk around with the schedule and never got it right. It was a continually changing mess, especially in the NL Central. Then in 2013 Selig tried to fix it my moving Houston from NL Central, which then had six teams, to AL West. Wow, finally there were the same number of teams in all six divisions. The problem was that the number was only five and there was still the mess created by "interleague" games, which now occurred every day, made worse by the fact that the "NL" did not use the designated hitter (DH) rule in its parks. Intellectually, Selig was incapable of resolving the DH impass during his quarter century in power. The six divisions of five teams also ushered in the second wild card in each conference. This because it was painfully obvious even to Selig that competitive imbalance could occur.

Expand, re-align, isolate divisions. Saturday, April 9, 2016

There are currently 30 teams in the Major Baseball League (MBL). Since the merger, Milwaukee and Houston have switched conferences and there have been multiple attempts to fix the post season tournament structure. In recent months there has been talk of adding two teams, which, of course, suggests the obvious symmetry of four eight team divisions...

... move teams into natural groups based on geography and rivalry ...

... breaking out of the ancient American League (AL) and National League (NL) straight jacket ...

... one underlying concept: teams in a division play the same schedule ...

Re-align and make things simple and fair.

After writing that post yesterday I fiddled with a schedule of two divisions in a conference: 8 teams and 7 teams. That's how I discovered that creating a fair schedule is easy when each division has the same number of teams. That's why contraction from 30 to 28 teams of four divisions of seven teams each is preferable for scheduling. Because of greed, contraction, which was considered about twenty years ago, will not happen. Expansion from 30 to 32 is much more likely.

But expansion will take years. Re-alignment can be done for next season 2017. It makes lots of sense, whether expansion occurs or not. Using my concept that each team in a division must play the same schedule as every other team in that division, I came up with something within two games of that: a 154 game schedule. I also tried to have multiples of three game series evenly scheduled home/road.

Both divisions play six games against each team in the other division: three home, three road:
8 team division: 6 games * 7 teams in other division = 42
7 team division: 6 games * 8 teams in other division = 48

Within division:
8 team division: 16 games * 7 = 112
7 team division: 18 games * 6 = 108

8 team division: 42 + 112 = 154
7 team division: 48 + 108 = 156 oops; change 108 to 106

That's where the two game discrepancy comes in but is easily fixed by dropping one game from each of two division rivals on a rotating basis. It does not exactly reach the goal but it's very close. And it will be corrected when/if expansion occurs and this is made much easier with four divisions of eight teams each.

Which teams go where is generally addressed in the previous post with plenty of latitude. A two conference structure with no divisions will be addressed in the next post. The key is that all teams in an entity play the same schedule, something that started to be eroded with the creation of the first modern divisions in 1969.

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