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August 17, 2004

From the Desk of Vex Peters

Adding Excitement to the Game

by Jim Baker

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Note: As we've mentioned in the past, every so often, we lay our hands on a document that was probably not intended for public consumption. We are not at liberty to say how it is we come by these things because we do not wish to compromise our conduit thereto. Suffice it to say, we will continue to make these available to you as long as we can continue to "come by" them. Here is the latest of these intercepted internal missives.

To: Realignment Planning Committee
From: Vex Peters, Steering Chairman, MLB
Date: August 16, 2004
RE: Operation Save-the-Game

People, have you looked at the standings? Are you happy about this? A month ago, we had our army of shills in the broadcast booths claiming there were 23 teams in the hunt for a playoff berth. What's that number down to now, people? Thirteen? We've got four divisions completely out of hand. We've got two wild card races that are tight but how long can we count on that? Either one or both could go s***sville in two weeks' time.

And that goes same for the two division races we have left. Are you going to count on the American League Central to keep fans interested once those NFL freaks start slamming into each for real? That leaves us with putting all our eggs in the American League West basket. I got news for you people: The A's aren't going to read that memo. Even if they don't get that good luck suppository they take every year at this time, do you trust the Rangers to hang in there? The Angels? Have you watched Bartolo Colon pitch lately? Or John Lackey? Do you want to put our faith in Ramon Ortiz keeping things close in the AL West? And people ask me why I'm at the Betty Ford Clinic every other month.

If you're not as worried about the future of our game as I am--and by that I mean having recurring strobe-lit nightmares of post-apocalyptic stadiums peopled only by rictus-faced ghosts watching dust gather where games were once played--then maybe it's time you found employment elsewhere. If you're not committed to having horrifying visions of a future where we're not sucking millions and millions of dollars out of this game, then you're not part of the program. Here's a shot across your bow: Get freaked out or get gone.

One thing that everybody seems to be missing in this whole solution is this: If one is good, then two is better...right? That's pretty damn obvious. I could get my dog to agree to that kind of simple logic and he drinks lead paint straight from the can. It's pretty basic, folks. If one pennant race is good for the game, then two is better. If two is better, then four is great. If four is great, then 16 would be supercalifragi-freaking-listic. Right? And how do we do that? Right, by having every team make the playoffs. Only we don't actually come right out and say that. We still have divisional champs and the illusion of in-season battles so everyone stays with us from wire-to-wire.

Here's the layout:

NL: Eight Divisions of two teams each (play own division 60 times, other NL teams 3 and 3, 18 interleague games)
Eight Division Champions
Eight Wild Card teams

AL: Seven Divisions of two teams each (play own division 60 times, six other AL teams 3 home/4 away, six other AL teams 4 home/3 away, 18 interleague games)
Seven Division Champions
Seven Wild Card teams

With that in mind, here's our preliminary plan for the new alignment of the leagues. Notice that we're not going to swap any teams out like we did last time. It seems the big guy is still a little confused by that. Three or four times a week he's buzzing my desk asking me why his boys are listed on the wrong side of the ledger. I have to remind him about our little deal back in '98 that switched them over. I'm not going through that again.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Northeast Division
New York Yankees
Boston

Can-Am Division
Detroit
Toronto

Southeast Division
Baltimore
Tampa Bay

Midwest Division
Minnesota
Kansas City

Great Lakes Division
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland

Southwest Division
Texas
Anaheim

Northwest Division
Seattle
Oakland

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Northeast Division
New York Mets
Philadelphia

Southeast Division
Atlanta
Florida

Midwest Division
St. Louis
Chicago Cubs

Ohio Valley Division
Cincinnati
Pittsburgh

Trans-Continental Division
Colorado
Expos (in new locale)

Texconsin Division
Milwaukee
Houston

Pacific Division
San Francisco
Los Angeles

Southwest Division
Arizona
San Diego

Like I said, if one of something is good, then two is better. If 19 Red Sox-Yankee games are good, imagine how well 60 will go down. Ditto on the Cards-Cubs, Giants-Dodgers, etc. Some of you fussbudgets are going to point out that not everybody lines up all that neatly. Here's what I say to you: More do than don't, so go lick a third rail.

Now we get to the playoffs. Once again, I assail you with unquestionable logic: If three rounds of playoffs are good, doesn't it stand to reason that five rounds would be nothing short of perfection?

First round (best-of-five)

NL Team with best record gets a bye
AL Team with best record gets a bye

Second-best NL Division Champ plays NL 16th seed
Second-best AL Division Champ plays NL 15th seed

Third-best NL Division Champ plays NL 14th seed
Third-best AL Division Champ plays AL 14th seed

Fourth-best NL Division Champ plays NL 13th seed
Fourth-best AL Division Champ plays AL 13th seed

Fifth-best NL Division Champ plays NL 12th seed
Fifth-best AL Division Champ plays AL 12th seed

Sixth-best NL Division Champ plays NL 11th seed
Sixth-best AL Division Champ plays AL 11th seed

Seventh-best NL Division Champ plays NL 10th seed
Seventh-best AL Division Champ plays AL 10th seed

Eighth-best NL Division Champ plays best NL wild card team (9th seed)
Best AL Wild Car team plays second-best Wild Card team (8th seed vs. 9th seed)

Second round (best-of-seven)

NL team with best record plays lowest-seeded surviving NL team (including 15th-seeded NL team that played in AL bracket in first round)
AL team with best record plays lowest-seeded surviving AL team (unless both 15th and 16th seeded NL teams survive in which case they will play the 15th-seeded NL team unless they had a better record than the best NL team during the regular season)

Highest-seeded NL Divisional Champion meets lowest seeded-NL survivor
Highest-seeded AL Divisional Champion meets lowest-seeded AL survivor

And so forth...

Third Round (best-of-seven)

We'll figure this out when the time comes. Believe me, it works.

League Championship Series (best-of-seven)

Last two surviving National League teams play for the pennant
Last two surviving American League teams play for the pennant

World Series (best-of-nine)

American League Champion vs. National League Champion (our nod to those milk-sopping traditionalists. I honestly thought that by 2004 they'd all be dead but they keep making new ones. Here's a further sop to their kind: While on the topic of tradition, what could be more traditional than a nine-game World Series? That's how the first one was played, ergo: tradition.)

In conclusion, this is where we're headed, people. Maybe we don't get there in just one realignment. Maybe it will take two. Maybe we'll go this one better and create 30 separate divisions. We can do anything we want because nobody will stop us. We can go anywhere our minds let us.

The question is--can you keep up?

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