I understand that this entry will raise the BP of fans in a number of cities. But it shouldn’t be too many since these fans are pretty much alone without a large fan base to share the victories and loses of their teams. This thought came to me as I watched the FOX Game of the Week featuring the Phillies and the Padres. Despite a game effort bySan Diegothey were a team overmatched and predictably lost.
Divide the major leagues into three pieces, National, American and Freedom. The National and American leagues would conduct business as usual and playing for the Commissioners Trophy after some restructuring into two five team divisions (East & West). If necessary they could even continue the distracting practice of interleague play. The Freedom League, free from competing against 100 & 200 Million payrolls would also divide into two 5 team divisions and would conduct its own postseason. All leagues would send its top two finishers onto the post season. The Freedom League would participate in all major league activities; free agency, the draft, trading deadline, and revenue sharing.
Since revenue sharing is a ‘gift’ from the major leagues, the Commissioners office would oversee the budgets of Freedom League teams. All revenue sources would be spent on organization operations to improve the product on the field at all levels. Owners would not take any earnings while the team remains in the Freedom League, this will not be well received by Jeff Loria of the soon to be Miami Marlins which are moving into a new Stadium built with public money. In 2008 the Marlins had an opening day payroll of 21.8 Million, they finished last in attendance and Jeff Loria finished with a 39.2 Million dollar operating profit and a net profit of 29.4 M. The 2008 Marlins received 48 Million in revenue sharing. 2009 the payroll was still the lowest in baseball, and Jeff Loria collected another 44 M in revenue sharing and turned another net profit.
A MLB commission would decide after each season; based on attendance, payroll and performance whether a team would move up to either the AL or NL and who would move down. The ‘graduation’ would not be guaranteed and would also depend on an existing AL/NL team floundering. Freedom League teams would retain their former AL/NL affiliation. To accomplish this six of the ten teams comprising the Freedom League would come from the ranks of the National League. The following are the 7 NL teams with the lowest payroll and attendance followed by 5 candidates from the American League.
National League Payroll 2011 Attendance
American League Payroll Attendance
Blue Jays Royals
Athletics Blue Jays
Some of these teams have .500 or better records as we reach the 100 game mark in the season. The Pirates and the Indians have surprised their fans with their play and both are in contention for their division championship. Contrary to the theme of my favorite baseball movie "Field of Dreams", if you build it they may not come. The formula IMHO is payroll drives attendance and attendance provides sustainability to produce on the field. We could of course continue with the haves beating up on the have nots, an unbalanced schedule and millions of disenfranchised fans who pay to watch an inferior product while ownership short changes them and the league. Separate out the teams that are not competeing, ensure that ownership is investing in that team. And allow it to have success, and engage their fanbase before stepping up the NL or AL