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Blog Entry

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:44 pm

By Matt Snyder

The Astros are going to move to the American League West, likely in time for the 2013 season. And judging from the reactions on Twitter, message boards and comments sections, the entire sport of baseball has apparently been ruined. We might as well just give up, right?

Dear Lord, people, dial it down. This is sports. They are supposed to be fun.

It never ceases to amaze me how utterly furious the masses get whenever baseball dares to makes a change. Is it the nation-wide, fan stigma attached to commissioner Bud Selig? That's possible. It's also possible it's the romantic infatuation die-hard baseball fans have with tradition. Whatever the reason, it's astounding. The NFL could radically realign and it would be universally accepted (oh wait, that already happened).

What if we treated our everyday life the way we treat baseball -- in that we aren't allowed to change anything, lest you upset the so-called tradition.

Go ahead and use your rotary phone, refuse to upgrade to high-definition TV, make sure your Internet connection is still a dial-up and definitely don't use the microwave for anything. If you like video games, you're only allowed to play Frogger or Donkey Kong on that old-school Atari. I mean, it's just madness all these changes people are making with technology, right? And that's just with technology. We could do this little exercise with any aspect of life. But in baseball, any change is tantamount to sacrilege, cry the masses.

Astros to AL West
The Astros move to the American League at at time when the franchise is facing a massive rebuilding project. They'll now be able to do so as an American League team. The Brewers, meanwhile, are firmly entrenched as an important National League team, having also developed good rivalries with the Cubs and Cardinals. It doesn't matter if the Brewers were in the American League a few decades ago, no matter how much people want to cry about Bud Selig's move of the Brewers to the NL. The past is the past. Leave it there. Look to the future. This move makes sense right now.

If you do insist on looking at the past, let's realize that the World Series used to pit the teams with the best record in each league against each other. There wasn't even an LCS. Remember how great that was, old people? Under that format, this year the World Series would have pitted the Yankees against the Phillies. Man, I can't imagine how much whining there would have been from everyone outside the northeast. For a few decades, there was only an LCS, no LDS. Then the wild card was added. All the changes have done is make postseason baseball more exciting than ever. The last month of this past season was one of the best of all-time.

I've seen people complaining about year-long interleague play with the rhetorical question, "why even have two leagues?" What an absurd complaint. You have the two leagues so you have a proper route to the World Series, just like the NFL has the AFC and NFC while the NHL and NBA have the East and West.

I've seen the lament that interleague play won't be "special" anymore. Special? Would the Marlins vs. Pirates be any less "special" than the Padres vs. A's right now? Please.

I've heard people whine about how the World Series teams will be too familiar with each other now. With trades and free agency, lots of players are familiar with each other anyway. And I don't understand how there's so much extra allure if the teams aren't familiar. It's the World freaking Series. You don't need to have an additional selling point.

Face it, having 16 teams in one league while 14 in the other was pretty ludicrous. Just as it's ludicrous to have different rules in each league (DH in AL, no DH in NL). It's one sport. Things should be uniform. Again, what is it about baseball that makes us lose all sense of perspective? I can't help but think 25 years from now we'll look back and scratch our heads at why the consensus was that it was OK to have 16 teams in the NL, 14 in the AL, but four playoff teams from each league. So, statistically, it was easier to make the playoffs from the AL West than NL Central. And that's fair, Houston fans?

It couldn't possibly be more obvious that the underlying hatred is simply change itself. As Garth Algar once said, "we fear change." All the rationale from those opposing the change is just a convenient justification because your gut is just telling you that you don't want anything to change. That's it.

But let's look at the excitement and intrigue the wild card has brought baseball. That was a big change that was met with venomous opposition at the time. Not all change is bad. Let's accept the fact that the Astros are moving and start looking to the future of baseball. Yeah, yeah, here come the mudslingers to accuse me of not being a true fan. That's fine. Forgive me for actually enjoying the sport instead of being a change-resistent dinosaur.

The whiners can feel free to watch a low-def tube TV. I'll just sit here and enjoy the sport I love on a high-def flatscreen.

So which one of us is being unreasonable?

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Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2011 6:51 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Wow, what a combative, belligerent column designed to provoke the maximum outrage and reaction.  Well, mission accomplished. All I can to those who sneer at Astros' fans complaints over losing 50 years of tradition and rivalry is how would you react if it happened to your team? It is always easy to minimize somebody else's suffering.
Thank you for providing a perfect example of overstated outrage. Hou exactly are you "losing 50 years of tradition and rivalry"? Your team isn't being relocated like the Oilers were, they are simply adding an extra hitter to their lineup. What significant rivalries do the Astros even have really? The Rangers would be their most logical natural rival, the current team sucks and will for several years at least, the greater fanbase is apathetic and if any franchise could use a change, it's Houston.

Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 6:41 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

 I fixed it. No more DH and here is the realignment I designed:


California Division
Angels, As, Giants, Padres, Dodgers

Midwest Division
Brewers, Twins, WSox, Reds, Royals

Northeast Division
Jays, Red Sox, Mets, Yanks, Orioles

Mountain Division
Mariners, D-Backs, Rockies, Rangers, Astros

Midwest Division
Cards, Cubs, Indians, Pirates, Tigers

Atlantic Division
Rays, Marlins, Braves, Nats, Phils

‎5 teams from each conference switch. I tried to preserve rivalries and geographic balance.

 everyone plays four 3 game series agsinst the other teams in their division = 48 games

you play 2 series each against every other team in your conference = 60 games

you play one three game series against each team from the opposite league = 45 games.
Total season = 153 games

This allows for a shorter season (which many want) and it allows for better playoff splits. Top two teams from each division make the playoffs with the top two division winners getting byes. Opening round is a three game series, then a 5 game series, then a 7 game series then 7 game world series. Homefield in the WS is determined by Interleague conference record.

 Thus -- regular season is 153 games and the longest playoff route would add 22 games to that for a total of 175. Compared to the current system of 162 regular season games plus the longest playoff route of 19 which equals 181.  Shorter season + more playoff revenue - DH rule + even season schedule - crappy All-Star game WS rule = FUN FOR ALL

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 6:36 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

"Dial it down. This is sports. They are supposed to be fun."

This is 50 years of history and tradition defecated upon. If it was your team, you'd feel the same way.

Since: Jan 19, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Nope--you missed the point. This is not about cultural conservatism. I grew up in Houston in the 1960s and have been following them through the ups and downs of four decades. 50 years in a league creates some historical "equity" that I hate to cash in for mere promises. There are *real* rivalries with NL Central division foes, especially the Cards and Reds, that have far more depth and substance than anything Miklwaukee has. Since the Brewers have been in the league, the Astros have been FAR more relevant in every year but the last two. True rivalries take time to develop, with lots of meaningful games and lots of meaningful games in lots of Septembers. The Astros had that; they're trading it away for nothing, really. THAT'S what it's about.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:24 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

I don't think I'm being a traditionalist when I say that I've always thought that one great appeal of the world series was seeing two teams play each other who never compete against one another.  I didn't mind interleague because I thought that, by doing it for 5-6 series a year, the excitement wasn't ruined and my appetite to see it happened remained.  It kind of led to there being two very distinct leagues with different things going on, which I always thought added a dynamic when they met.  It's not like the other sports, where the teams from different conferences meeting has no special appeal. I have no problem with the other changes (although I don't like the new wildcard, it's just because I'm a fan of a team that seems pretty likely from year to year to finish in 2nd in the divison, so this new one doesn't do much for me).

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:01 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Well stated, JeffSmoker!

There's nothing wrong with change, if its an improvement.  Change just for the sake of change is unnecessary and can be counter-productive.  The idea of the D'backs moving instead is valid.  The only reason the Astros are moving is because the new owner has no choice if he wants in.  No other NL team owner wants to move to the AL because they KNOW that it's the "JUNIOR CIRCUIT" for good reason.  I don't care how many people love the DH rule but it goes against the principles of the sport, players should play defense and offense.  Pitchers will learn to hit better and avoid injury at the plate and on the bases when they get more practice and experience.  If you want to avoid injury for high paid players then they should have a DR for fat and old DHs so they won't have run the bases when they get on base.
The DH could stay forever in AL and even be implemented in the NL but I will forever be against it.  I am not bitterly against it to the point that I would boycott MLB if the NL adopts the DH.  That's how I see change in MLB in general, it's an imperfect sport, and I'll enjoy it as best as I can when the Astros (NL since birth) become an AL team (unnatural).

Some of us still think of the Brewers as an American League team.  We remember Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Gormon Thomas, Cecil Cooper, and others as great players on an American League team.  Will we remember Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun the same way?

Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:54 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Thank you for writing this. I would love to go back to the newspapers in 1969 and see if people from Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit complained about the White Sox being put in the AL West when they introduced two divisions. History! Rivarlries! Whinnnnne! Did anyone care a few decades later when the White Sox were fightning with the A's and Royals and Detroit and Cleveland with Toronto and Boston? No of course not. Rivalries form from having competition between teams in September and the playoffs. If the Astros actually become a good team in the near future and form a rivalry with, I don't know, the A's for example, we will hear nothing about this. Nothing. If you only care about not having a DH and playing the Pirates 16 times a year then you probably aren't a very good baseball fan anyway.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:53 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

Wow, what a combative, belligerent column designed to provoke the maximum outrage and reaction.  Well, mission accomplished. All I can to those who sneer at Astros' fans complaints over losing 50 years of tradition and rivalry is how would you react if it happened to your team? It is always easy to minimize somebody else's suffering.

I do have to say that the argument that "the Astros are rebuilding anyway so why not start over in a new league" is the DUMBEST argument I have heard.  So the answer now that a team has a bad year or two is to just reshuffle the deck and change leagues? Get serious.  Just be honest and say that MLB screwed the Astros because they could.  The pending sale gave them the perfect sword to hold over the Astros head and they used it. Despite their 50 years in the National League the Astros aren't a glamor franchise so the average fan won't grumble much (again, as long as it is not happening to THEIR team). It was a power play, pure and simple and had nothing to do with fairness or competition.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:34 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

I agree with StlCards. They need to realign the entire game, put the Mets and Yankees, Marlins and Rays, Pirates and Phillies, and Padres, Angels, Giants, A's, and Dodgers all int he same division. That way we don't see any more horrendous WS like we did with the Mets-Yankees series. The Giants-Angels series was nearly as bad and should have been if they didn't have all those super egotistical personalities in both dugouts.

Since: Nov 17, 2011
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:06 pm

Stop complaining about changes in baseball

couldn't agree more - solid article.

i love the historical aspect of baseball, which trumps any other professional sports organization, but it doesn't mean tweaks and changes can't be made for the betterment of the game. NHL, NFL and NBA seemingly make drastic changes every year, yet MLB can't change anything without an uproar.

next up, let's find a way for the Jays to compete in the AL East consistently! salary cap? (gasp!)

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