Baseball Common SensePosted: July 3, 2011 | |
To do this study justice, I will have to play out the scenarios over the past 45 years of baseball history. This initial post is only the application of the process to the 2009 season results.
In this analysis of the current state of Baseball, the problems created. perpetuated, and endured in the commercial promotion of activity will be examined. Baseball ceased to be a sport and became an entertainment industry, long ago. The distinction becomes clear in the inequalities in relationships within interests, in the conduct of commercial activity. Competition on the field of play and commercial promotion of personalities are 2 separate worlds. In many instances, personalities have damaged the integrity of the game and it’s reputation, particularly in the Steroid Era. The hard truth is that many teams just aren’t as good as the elite teams of the game. The only difference between the Steroid Era and the Black Sox Scandal is that performance enhancing drugs are a continuing problem. Baseball can always boot gamblers and other malefactors out of the game and the records
The issues of extremes have damaged the public commercial environment. The “haves” impose on the “have – nots” and all parties on the marketing side of the equation present the inferior components of the product as one common product with the premium component. Stated simply, most of baseball is merely window dressing for the perennial “champions”. It is blatant fraud. Baseball presents itself as competition among equal peers. Yet, a series of marketing ploys continue to disguise the undesirable aspects of the product.
Until the conditions of the financial environment determine the structure of competition, Baseball will continue dealing with franchises in bankruptcy and hindrances to growth and expansion. There shouldn’t be meaningless games and empty stadiums. The commercial conditions of free agency and competitive parity should not impede legitimate competition on the field of play.
This proposal will present conditions conducive to meaningful competition and public interest. The purpose of any commercial activity should be to put the best product in front of the most consumers, at the best price. Pursuing that objective requires that the industry recognize reality and operate within it.
In the proposal that I’m making here, competitive balance is quantitatively measured. Each team’s schedule is eventually determined by marketing practices and consumer service. The price of admission is a greater percentage of the consumer’s income than that of any of the players or management. An empty seat is a consumer expression of value. Teams with little or no chance to win a championship face an uphill fight in staying in business. The fortunate few have always bought up the best of available talent. The marketplace should self—adjust accordingly.
Initially, I’ve weighted the scheduling parameters according to on-field performance. After 3 years, the factors of 3-year attendance and payroll would count for 20 % of the schedule ranking. Each 3 year period would add in an additional 20 % to the adjustment factor. After 9 years, the marketing factors move to a fixed 50 % of the ranking. At this point, payroll extravagance would result in the toughest schedule in the game.
In my schedule proposal, much of the “playing out the string” that occurs in the last month of the season is eliminated. Meaningless games and lack of interest stand in the way of the economic viability of many teams. Having a chance in the post season is better than waiting ‘til next year.
The basic objectives for this scheduling format should be kept in mind. Listed without priority in importance, they are:
1. Provide balance in strength of schedule, relative to each team.
2. Schedule only 9 and 10 game road trips, as much as possible.
3. Keep all road trips within the same time zone, as much as possible.
1. Balance in strength of schedule
Every year, we see patterns play our in Baseball. Teams rise and fall. Some take on more payroll, others trim their obligations to make room for new players. Some teams meet expectations, while others don’t. These rhythmic patterns are basic to the charm of Baseball. In this scheduling system, teams gravitate toward like teams. Competition would be more even and Divisional races would be tighter. This scheduling method allows room for an expanded postseason with ample opportunity for teams to showcase what they can accomplish. Outside of the College World Series, I know of no other double elimination series. Yet, the CWS format is by single games, not by best of each series. If a team reaches the Field of 8 and loses 6 games in the first 2 rounds, there can be no complaint. Not only did they get their opportunity, they even got a second chance. This postseason is no easy ride. Every team will eventually meet the best of the best. The seeding ensure that the 2 best records in each league can meet, as long as they win rounds. No one in this format wants to lose 2 rounds.
2. Road Trips and Homestands.
Few people travel as much as professional athletes. Long and frequent flights, odd and irregular hours, tight schedules between games, all contribute to stress and fatigue. That can’t be good for health and peace of mind. We have definitely seen that unusual disruptions repeated too often will leave a team at less than their best.
3—3—3 or combinations of 3—3—4 road trips would at least allow room for consistency. Staying in each city long enough to say they were there would leave time for players to rest and recover. Multiple trips, back and forth across the country before getting home take time and energy away from the game.
Because there are so many teams scheduled to play 10 games against each other, 2 game stops are unavoidable, Altering that to either 9 games or 12 would throw either the schedule or the calendar into disarray. This schedule format is designed to conclude the World Series no later than October 15th. Opening Day would have to be moved up by 4 days to accommodate the change in the All—Star break. Since 6 and 12 are the only practical numbers that fit equal home—and-home series, there can be no 6 and 12 format that fits exactly between Spring Training and mid—October. The only viable alternative would be to drastically shorten Spring Training and begin the season in warmer places. I’m sure that most people would like to see the postseason begin in early September and in warmer weather.
2 game series should always begin a road trip, when they are necessary. Even so, a system of 8, 9 and 10 game road trips is more consistent that the present schedule. Only a shorter season would fit the calendar. Since that would serve no good purpose, it would be in everyone’s best interest to keep travel time as short as possible. Freeing up time would make the logistics of team travel easier.
3. Time Zones
Keeping travel within a single time zone on road trips would greatly enhance the quality of competition and the well-being of the players and managers and coaches. I’m sure that most people like to sleep on something that isn’t moving and the irregular schedule of long travel is disruptive. Short trips and more time at the beginning of each series would make for better baseball.
The hard truth is that many teams just aren’t as good as the elite teams of the game. They can’t compete at the same revenue level and no amount of revenue sharing can fix that. All that revenue sharing does is create a conflict of interest. The history of Baseball will not turn for the better, under the present conditions. The less affluent teams are now farm teams for the more well-heeled teams. It is the repeated scenario of the 1930’s and 1975 Athletics that is damaging the reputation and growth of Baseball.
Shouldn’t all 30 cities have the same reasonable expectation of actually winning a championship? For most, that will never happen, because they will never have the means necessary to keep the talent needed to get that done. Like it or not, the escalation in salaries puts them behind the curve. Addressing the problem with draft picks to replace lost talent isn’t even a good Band-Aid. It will require surgery to mend the financial rift in Baseball.
Free agency has turned Baseball into a cold, impersonal business. The smiling players on the field and the owners who pay them are the reason that people can’t afford to actually attend the games. If Media, Advertising and Marketing revenues are so wonderful why are ticket prices so high? I remember that my ticket to the 1975 ALCS was something like $7.50. Now, such a ticket could be 10 to 100 times that amount. Is it any wonder that there are so many empty seats?
I’ve devised a schedule format in which the top 4 teams in each league do not play the bottom 4 teams in their league. Of course, there might be opportunity for vindication and redemption in the 8 – team, double elimination post – season that I would like to see. I like the idea. Adversaries can come back from the “dead” and bite you.
I like to think of it as “Zombie Baseball”.