So ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” and ESPN.com have started pushing Buck Showalter’s plan for realigning baseball. But if you take even a minute to think through what Buck is proposing, his plan makes no sense at all!
Even setting aside the most glaring flaw, which is that Buck’s plan proposes contracting two teams as if that were totally a simple matter, and completely ignores what an utter disaster the previous attempt at contraction was, the plan has another glaring inconsistency which both Buck and co-conspirator Steve Berthiaume seem completely oblivious to.
If you watch the video, Buck first lays out how he is going to get rid of the unbalanced schedule, so that each team is going to play every other team in baseball exactly 6 times per season, 3 games at home and three away. But then right after that, he unveils his four new divisions, and he and Berthiaume proceed to prattle on about how great these new divisions are going to be, because all the teams in each division will be in the same time zone, which will supposedly enhance regional rivalries, cut down on flight times, and prevent fans from having to stay up late to watch games in distant time zones.
If Buck’s plan is carried out and each team plays every other team 6 times, then why are these divisions even necessary at all? None of the alleged benefits of these new divisions that Buck and Berthiaume spend so much time praising will come to pass at all if each team plays every other team exactly 6 times. Teams will have to fly farther, more often, fans will have even more games outside their time zone they’ll have to stay up late for, and regional rivalries will be much reduced because the fans will only see that rival team three times a year.
In fact, all the supposed advantages Buck touts for his new divisions were exactly why baseball returned to the unbalanced schedule in 1997, the same unbalanced schedule which Buck hates so much and wants to now eliminate. By playing each team in the division 18 or 19 times, there is less flying, more games at reasonable hours, and enhanced rivalries.
In other words, part A of Buck’s plan completely cancels out part B! It’s like these are pieces of two completely separate and incompatible plans! But nobody at ESPN seems to have noticed!
In fact, given Buck’s playoff proposal, which is based solely on record, rather than division, there is absolutely no point in having divisions at all! You might as well just have one single 28-team division, if the teams are all going to have the same schedule anyway, and you’re just going to take the four teams with the four best records plus two wild cards.
Crazy Buck Showalter.