Friday, September 9, 2011

Consolidating divisions only helps big markets in baseball

Watching the Indians fall out of the AL Central race this week was tough for Tribe fans. But it could be worse. Here is what the standings would look like if the AL converts to the proposed no-division format and moves Houston in from the National League (through Thursday):

Team W L Pct.
New York 87 55 .613
Boston 85 58 .594
Detroit 81 62 .566
Texas 81 63 .563
Tampa Bay 78 64 .549
Los Angeles 78 65 .545
Chicago 72 70 .507
Toronto 72 72 .500
INDIANS 70 71 .496
Oakland 65 78 .455
Seattle 60 83 .420
Kansas City 60 85 .414
Minnesota 59 84 .413
Baltimore 57 85 .401
Houston 48 95 .336 36

The top five teams would make the playoffs under the proposal. At best, the Indians would be 7.5 games out of the last playoff spot, and instead of competing against a few other teams for the division title, they'd be going against the rest of the AL.

This is also against the current, unbalanced schedule. If it was evened out into a round-robin and those 19 games against Kansas City were trimmed and replaced with more against the Yankees and Red Sox, the Tribe would have an even tougher road.

This would occur every season unless baseball's economic setup changes. The Indians and teams similar to them would basically cede the top few spots by the end of spring. The problem the AL East is facing - Baltimore and Toronto haven't been contenders in years - would be spread to the whole league.

It would take a success story along the lines of the Tampa Rays to nab one of the last playoff spots and the right to take on a big-market team that will have home-field advantage.

That's why if you're an Indians fan, keeping the divisions the way they are is the way to go.

- Howard Primer

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