MLB Parity Is At An All-Time High
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- With 2 weeks before the non-waiver trade deadline, there are 21 teams within 6 games or less for the ten playoff positions. Parity has officially hit the MLB like we have never seen before. The Yankees are leading the AL East Division by 9.5 games, so the other 4 teams in the AL East enter action knowing they still have a chance. Mr Selig’s idea for the 2nd wild card has definitely kept playoff dreams alive for teams that would have been otherwise doused in the races. Baseball purists seem to hate the notion that more playoff teams breaks the tradition of yesteryear. I think that ten teams of 30 is still a great ratio (33.33%) compared to the three other Major Sports for percentage of teams making the playoffs. The NFL has 12 teams out of 32 make the playoffs (37.5%) and are the highest revenue generated sport. Both of the NBA and NHL have 16 out of 30 teams make the playoffs-which is 53.33%.
What I also like is that the new format penalizes the Wild Card teams and puts more of an emphasis on winning the divisions. Gone will be the days (like last year) where the Yankees mailed it in being happy to just lock down a playoff position and rest their veterans instead of going for the pennant. The one game playoff for those two Wild Card teams will have the teams playing for the division till the end. Having said this, I just reminded myself of that big lead for the Yankees, so they will probably have a chance to rest their guys this year anyways. The Rangers and Angels are a better example. I believe that Los Angeles will make a charge at the Texas club. None of these two teams wants to see their lives come down to a one game playoff, so if they remain close, this could be a great divisional race.
I wrote an article on a re-alignment idea a few months ago (here) to balance out the big market and small market teams. While I still believe this may be the better long term solution, the second wild card team has certainly put that competitive unbalance aspect to the back burner. Every team has a chance to make the playoffs in spring training for the first time in decades. From who has won the titles during the ten years, it appears that you just need to make the playoffs in order to go on a run. Not since the Yankees won 3 World Series in a row, (while representing the AL 6 out of 7 years in the World Series,) have we seen a dynasty team. The Yankees haven’t escalated their player salaries over the last few years while other teams have been catching up on them with player salaries and talent.
The 2 St. Louis Cardinals championships in the last 6 years further illustrate this point, as they entered both 2006 and 2011 with the worst record amongst all playoff teams. This is not to say that they haven’t been one of the best run franchises in the last 30 years, because I believe they have been. It just shows you that a club can catch lightning in a bottle and do some damage. I mean everyone remembers how hot the Colorado Rockies were at the tail end of the 2007 season-winning 21 of 22 games heading into the Fall Classic! Had they not had to wait for over a week to play the Red Sox(having their incredible momentum drained for a lack of play), they may have won the World Series that year.
As a Yankees fan, I know this movement has been good for the health of the league. We are seeing a lot of potential for young teams like: Pittsburgh, Washington and even Baltimore to contend on a yearly basis based on their organizational decisions and not just their payroll. The dollars were still count sure, but the MLB needed to start somewhere. I am looking forward to the division races this year. I will harken back to when there was just 4 divisions and those teams won the pennant. It was special back then and maybe that way again starting this year. While there is still going to be a play in game for both leagues, followed by Divisional Series, A League Championship and ultimately the World Series balance is back, that jubilation a team will feel great to have a guaranteed spot in the Divisional Series.
I think Mr. Selig is right about this decision. I am also one of those people who likes Interleague and the DH. Overall I think Bud has done a pretty good job as MLB Commissioner. Everyone likes to blame the man for the ‘steroid era’ when they should be equally focusing in on Donald Fehr and the MLBPA for being just as responsible for maintaining the integrity of the game. I believe Selig when he says he wanted to do more for testing back in the day-but was legally stifled. I also think the owners kept telling him to not bother after the players for increased testing-by not letting the MLBPA use that bargaining chip of a concession for something else in the collective bargaining agreement in return.
The state of baseball looks solid in forthcoming years. The collective bargaining agreement is in place for another 5 years. There is an unbelievable stock of young talent that has come up to the Major Leagues recently like: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, while many more like Billy Hamilton are on the way. The game has gone back to pitching and speed being the dominant forces. This kind of athleticism is drawing new fans to the game and renewing the love for the game by some of the fans turned off by the ‘steroid era’. Yes-chicks dig the long-ball, yet the baseball purists also love players hustling, stealing bases, playing small ball and pitchers actually being able to compete against the sluggers who don’t look like Hans and Franz from the old SNL skit (but for real.)
So Parity is not a dirty word for baseball. In fact, it is nice to welcome back a lot more franchises of the game to the championship discussion. Now if I can just get Bud to change the ALL-Star Format deciding home field advantage- and of course the 2-3-2 format also in the World Series!
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***
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Posted on July 18, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged baltimore orioles, boston red sox, bryce harper, bud selig, Chuck Booth, colorado rockies, los angeles angels, Mike Trout, mlb, nba, new york yankees, nfl, nhl, pittsburgh pirates, SNL, st louis cardinals, stephen strasburg, texas rangers, the fastest 30 ballgames, Washingto Nationals, wild card. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.