Expansion instead of Contraction is what MLB needs. But first we need a commish with a vision ... buds eyes are ownly partially open.
In order for this to work. MLB must first do a few not so simple things .. but there is no reason why it can't work.
ok first off, Realignment ..
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
New Orleans Expos ( or a southern state, maybe VA.)
Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Las Vegas A's (also must be kept in a south western local, maybe Mexico)
Second decision is the DH. Stay or Go? Personally I say go, I think the two year trial is up, plus there is the added benefit of saving a few million every season for the stupid position. But I am also a realist, and understand that the Union would never let this fly. So the DH stays.
Third is Relocation. New Orleans is an ideal market for the Expos. Finding an owner is another thing. A stadium quite another. Virgina seems to be the front runner though. Oakland, I am sorry, but you do not support your team. Why? I have no fricking clue but 'tis a shame. The A's would thrive in either Vegas (which is very doable, even with the gambling) or Portland. Let Oakland keep the Raiders though! Why they chose to support those criminals over the A's is beyond me.
Fourth is a schedule. Having all teams now playing by the same rules, (the DH) we can now create rivalries. If the Yanks/Sox history has shown us anything, is that rivalries sell. All teams would begin the season much as they do now, in an unbalnced schedule. They would play within their division to begin the season and to end the season. April and September! They would play each team 3 home and 3 away. Thats 48 Games against within the division, with each team seeing its rival 12 times. Teams would then play against their Northern/Southern oponents a total of 6 times. 3 away and 3 home. Ideally this would be towards the end of summer right before teams start to face there conference rivals. From them end of April till the end of July teams would then play against the other 20 teams. 2 home and 2 away. Currently Baseball is set up in a way that NL fans can't really see AL stars and visa-versa. I understand interleague has tried to fix this, but if I knew the Rangers were coming every year for at least two games. I'd go. I'd love to see Chan Ho Park Pitch again. Why should I as a fan be deprived of watching stars perform? Ok basically what I have done now is set up a very fair, balanced schedule where every team plays every team .... every year.
April .. your division... 24 games
May, June, July ... the other 20 teams .. 80 games
August .. North/South rivalries 30 games
Sep .. Your division .. 24 games
Thats a 158 games schedule.
Fifth is revenue sharing. Ideally under this plan, Attendence would increase even in the worst markets like Pittsburgh, as they could go and see all the teams when the come to town. I understand that they wouldn't always sell out, but I truly believe ther would be an attendence boost. MLB truly needs to market is stars better, especially nationally, but more on that later. There is no reason why there shouldn't be a 50/50 gate recipts, concession reciepts, televsion revenue split!! Everything right down the middle. It takes two teams to play a game! This will obviouslly give money to the Pirates of the world when they visit New York, but it will also put people in the seats in Pittsburgh when New York comes to town.
Sixth is pay to play. MLB owners shot themselves in the foot one to many times! Ask Tom Hicks, as he just paid Alex Rodriguez 47.5 million per year, for three years worth of last place baseball. But these men are not stupid, not all of them anyways. Foot wounds do heal. Owners have learned that long term contracts are not the way to go. Only a few contracts given out this off season were in excess of 3 total years, which is good. They are healing. But only a few of those contracts were performance based.
3 year performanced based contracts with buyout options for each year should be the flavor of choice in the huge FA market during the winter of 2004. Have MLB and the MLBPA sit down and figure out the price of a HR, single what ever. Base it on Seligs new stupid stat, I forget what he calls it, sorry. Whatever, just set up a flat rate. Make a single worth a grand, or base it on plate appearances
it doesn't matter. The player would then get his base salary, say 2 mill plus last years performance.
So now we have a balanced schedule, one that creates division rivals that are in close prox to each other. The reason this is imortant is because people will
travel. CHC/CWS would sell out all the time. ANA/LA would too, just to name a few. And we have balance on the reciepts, giving more money to the smaller market teams. We also have incentive based contracts. We just created our "First Division"!!
MLBs biggest assest is in its youth. Its young stars. As was pointed out before, Euro soccer has two divisions! Well MLB has Four!!! They just do a chitty job of marketing them. Instead of "Working-Agreements" with these minor league clubs, Each Team should have one AAA club that they own. Instead of farming them out to Boise, keep them at home. The Minor league team would play in an exact opposite of the Major league team as far as schedule. All 158 games. Obvioussly these tickets would be reduced, but you have also just created competition, and a second source of revenue. And you as the owner are getting both sources of revenue. They don't have to be the same team name, they would need to be unique from a marketing perspective, but youth sells. People would easily flock to the stadium for 5.00 a seat to see the future stars. Model it after the "First Division" Financially and schedule wise, and it will create rivalries too ....
wow this is getting long ....
Lastly, AA and A teams should be organized and owned by MLB also. AA ball should stay in the smaller communities but modeled in a way to create rivalries, but A ball should be played in South America, but thats a whole other thread.
as far as financing the expansion instead of contraction. MLB should "Tax" every organaization from every revenue stream, Majors and Minors, to help the 'poor' owners purchase the Minor league teams. Make the tax at 3% and make it expire in 50 years.
I have more but i'll stop here ..
Thoughts so far ?