I’ve given considerable thought to the shape that baseball should take in the future and here are some of my ideas.
If baseball were to expand to two more cities, then the league would be twice as large as it was before expansion began in 1961. By doing this, we can say that this 50+ years process would be completed.
Here is my idea of how the divisions would then look:
East: New York; Boston; Baltimore; Washington; Buffalo; Cleveland; Detroit; and Toronto
West: Chicago; Minnesota; Kansas City; Texas; Arizona; Los Angeles; San Jose( Oakland); Seattle
East: New York; Brooklyn; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; Atlanta; Tampa Bay; and Florida
West: Chicago; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Houston; Colorado; San Diego; Los Angeles; San Francisco
Notice how each division has two distinct regions, where rivalries can flourish through the intradivisional competition that will develop.
I did my best to create balance between divisions and leagues by having the same number of original teams per division. The only exception is in the west where only 3 original teams (Chicago,Minnesota, and San Jose) are located. But this division has the two oldest expansion teams (Los Angeles and Texas). I also maintained league integrity and tradition by doing a minimum of league switches, with no original teams switching leagues.
Each team would play the other 7 teams in their division 18 times for a total of 126. Ist Tier and 2nd Tier rivals would play each other 9 times for a total of 36. In this way, the current schedule of 162 games would continue. But the regular season would end a week earlier by requiring each team to play one Sunday doubleheader per month. The 126 games played between rivals for the same pennant would be the most played since divisional play began in 1969. This would make season long pennant races more likely.
For those who believe thaqt the talent is too thin to expand again, I would institute some changes in the game that should have an immediate impact on the quality and competitvie balance of the game. First, the league should raise the pitchers mound by 3 inches, putting it half way between what it usesd to be and what it is now. When the leverage of a higher mound was used by a pitcher, it led to less wear and tear on a pitcher’s arm. Over time a team will be able to allow their pitchers to pitch more innings, thus lessening the strain on a teams pitching staff. The number of pitchers on a team’s pitching staff would then be limited to ten.
With most teams no carrying 12 pitchers, instead of needing 24 more pitchers, there would end up being 40 less. This would have a positive affect on both the balance between offense and defense and the competive balance of the league as a whole. Since competitive balance of the leugue is a factor in how pennant races progress during the season, the number of exciting pennant races and the number of teams competing will increase.
Some people have suggested that a salary cap be initiated to ensure competitive balance. But I have another solution. Players will be more likely to stay with teams if they are given a piece of a team. This way a team will be able to hold on to a core of good players by making them part owners. No more trading away veteran players when they become a financial burden. Each team will have as its goal the building of teams that make them 1st Tier teams and then pennant contenders. The number of pennant contenders will increase as teams retain their stars through most of their careers.
Finally, I have a way that competitive balance can be improved through an instant infusion of more team revenue. Allow fans to purchase stock in their favorite teams. With players and fans owning teams we can know try to figure ways to produce increased competitve balance because creating exciting pennant races will be the ultimate goal of all concerned. Come to think of it, when kids choose sides on the playgrounds don’t they end up with evenly matched teams? Out ot the mouths of babes comes great wisdom!