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Why the MLB Should Follow the English Premier League Example and Demote Unworthy Teams


oriolesprospects

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Personally, I do not agree with this. It's an interesting idea and worth sharing over here. The intro (link):

I spent a lot of my childhood living in England. I would wake up early every Saturday morning and try to get home from school every Wednesday to not only watch West Ham United win, but to watch them do everything in their power to avoid relegation to a lower league. If the Hammers were relegated, I wouldn't be able to see them on the big stage. They'd just be "another team" in a lower division.

What if that happened in Major League Baseball? Can you imagine the beautiful and picturesque PNC Park being used as home of the Triple-A Pittsburgh Pirates? The Indianapolis Indians, with a ballpark that only seats a few thousand, would be dealing with lots of diverse and abnormal circumstances such as lack of funds, fans, and personnel.

The Pirates have the 1st overall pick in this year's Amateur Draft. Barring any unexpected circumstances, Anthony Rendon will be the first player to hear his name called. But do the Pirates deserve a player of his caliber? Should the previous year's worst team really be given the opportunity to select a potential superstar? Why? Should the team that wins the World Series not have a same chance at that talent?

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/2/24/2008992/do-the-pirates-even-deserve-rendon-the-draft-continues-to-spoil

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I've always been a fan of this format. I think all leagues, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, should do this sort of thing.

There really isn't any pressure or punishment for owners of bad teams to improve. I'd like to see the owners of the Pirates and Royals squirm a little bit more and be motivated to get their teams out of last place.

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I like the idea a lot, but:

1) The system they have in Europe is mostly or completely unworkable in the closed league structure that almost all North American sports leagues use. You'd have to free the minor leagues and somehow transform them into competitive entities that recruit and sign their own players, which would be a radical and highly disruptive step. And you'd have to get a bunch of billionaire owners to agree to risk hundreds of $millions on the chance that their team has an off year, gets demoted, and finds itself with 1/10th of their expected revenues and road trips to Toledo. I can't imagine a scenario where they'd agree to throw away their near guarantee of profits under the current closed system.

Promotion/relegation could work in NCAA sports, which have a much more open structure, but as far as I know it's never been considered there.

2) Let's not pretend that the promotion/relegation scheme doesn't have problems of it's own (not that I'm accusing anyone here of that). Some large percentage of promoted teams don't have the resources to compete in the biggest leagues, and are soon relegated in the following years. Most soccer leagues are very top-heavy, and the feisty underdogs rarely are competitive with the Man Us and Bayern Munichs and Arsenals.

Promotion/relegation only happened in Europe because soccer was mostly an amateur/club sport for many years starting in the 1800s. Leagues were usually loose affiliations of these independent sporting clubs, and the teams played in (and continue to play in) lots of competitions including cups, tournaments, and league play. It was much later that the teams became big money-making ventures and promotion/relegation became a big deal. Baseball was set up from very early on (say, the 1860s) as a owner-centric, money-making operation that was quite overt in its desire to not have any competition. Rival leagues were absorbed or crushed, and all interaction between leagues was either antagonistic or imperial (such as when the majors slowly took over the minors and made them subservient).

It's interesting to contemplate what could have been, but promotion/relegation just isn't going to happen in North America without some completely unseen revolutionary events.

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Promotion/relegation could work in NCAA sports, which have a much more open structure, but as far as I know it's never been considered there.

Pulling this thread a little more...

Why hasn't this been considered in the NCAA? We've seen a bunch of restructuring and schools shifting leagues and jumping to other conferences and the like. Why not formalize the process a little bit? Instead of trying to get Boise State or BYU to jump leagues, why not have the Pac 10 and the WAC form a superleague with promotion/relegation?

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Pulling this thread a little more...

Why hasn't this been considered in the NCAA? We've seen a bunch of restructuring and schools shifting leagues and jumping to other conferences and the like. Why not formalize the process a little bit? Instead of trying to get Boise State or BYU to jump leagues, why not have the Pac 10 and the WAC form a superleague with promotion/relegation?

I agree. It would probably be a model that should be "tested" in college first as it makes a lot more sense there.

My only answer to why is the same for why there isn't any playoff system for college football: The Athletic Directors think they can make more money this way. The only way this thing ever changes is if someone flashes a lot of green in front of a lot of peoples' eyes.

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I agree. It would probably be a model that should be "tested" in college first as it makes a lot more sense there.

My only answer to why is the same for why there isn't any playoff system for college football: The Athletic Directors think they can make more money this way. The only way this thing ever changes is if someone flashes a lot of green in front of a lot of peoples' eyes.

Yea, it has to be money. And prestige, which ties back to money. The WAC doesn't want to think of itself in a lower tier (which, it already is, but can still get teams into D-I bowl games with bigger conferences).

I think it would be interesting to see D-I football restructured into maybe 60 teams in a top tier, and 60 in a lower tier, with 10 switching places every year. But what incentive is there for for, say, Wake or Maryland to agree to that? If they dropped into the lower tier and out of the ACC I'm assuming they'd think that would hurt them a lot more than going 3-7 in the current setup.

With 30+ bowl games and the constant turnover of personnel almost all NCAA football teams always think they're going to a bowl this year.

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Or we could just do it the way the NFL does it, you play the teams in other divisions that have a similar finish to you in their division. Re-align the divisions and AL/NL format so that the first place teams are in a division, 2nd place in a division and so on. Maybe this doesn't work over such a long schedule, but it would shake things up a little.

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Or we could just do it the way the NFL does it, you play the teams in other divisions that have a similar finish to you in their division. Re-align the divisions and AL/NL format so that the first place teams are in a division, 2nd place in a division and so on. Maybe this doesn't work over such a long schedule, but it would shake things up a little.

For me the whole point of promotion/relegation is to give teams other than the perennial contenders something to play for, and a strong incentive at that. Just shuffling around the schedule doesn't do that.

A bad team has the Fear of God put in them when the schedule is 2/3rds over and they're on the verge of becoming a minor league team. With our current setup they're just playing for next year, not really caring if they lose 87 or 97 or 107 games.

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For me the whole point of promotion/relegation is to give teams other than the perennial contenders something to play for, and a strong incentive at that. Just shuffling around the schedule doesn't do that.

A bad team has the Fear of God put in them when the schedule is 2/3rds over and they're on the verge of becoming a minor league team. With our current setup they're just playing for next year, not really caring if they lose 87 or 97 or 107 games.

It would result in more parity though.

I have always enjoyed the idea of what you are discussing, it would make things interesting, but what on earth would you do with the players? The Orioles stink and therefore are a AAA teams. They ought to win at the AAA level, especially with a 90 million dollar payroll against minor league teams. What do you about Statistical records, free agents, contracts, etc. Suppose Zack Greinke is still on the Royals, and he has a great season and his team stinks the big one. They finish as the 3rd worst team in the league and get demoted. That off-season, Grienke is going into the last year of his contract. Hes now pitching against AAA players, he sets a record for Strikeouts and gets 24 wins, ERA is around 2.00. Is that record valid as an MLB record? How do you evaluate his stats and assess how much hes worth. I would assume that the other teams who are on the brink or have been demoted would try to sign him, obviously the top-tier teams would want him, but suppose a team that just barely missed getting demoted offers him the most money. Maybe he gets a contract that says his contract is void if the team gets demoted, or they have to trade him?

Also what do you do about fans? I would hope that the current MLB teams would have fans that are somewhat loyal and still come out after the demotion. At least the team would be winning, even if it didn't mean much. If the fans don't come out, and you've been demoted to AAA, you've got to find a way to make money to get the talent needed to move back up. Oppositely, what of the Tides after they are the best and move up to MLB? Very few minor league clubs will have the revenue capacity (even if they are signing and developing their own players) to compete at the MLB level. So when they move up, wouldn't they just be a beating stick? Sure it would be fun, in an underdog fashion, and it would be fun to have to see ARod and other Stars have to get dressed in crappy locker rooms around the Country, but the stadiums aren't even big enough. And what about TV and radio. I guess we would have to have a Television model where regions cover whatever team is the big one. So when the Orioles get demoted, whatever team comes up gets the TV production and radio time while the Orioles get pushed to whatever Radio stations are covering the minor league team.

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It would result in more parity though.

I have always enjoyed the idea of what you are discussing, it would make things interesting, but what on earth would you do with the players? The Orioles stink and therefore are a AAA teams. They ought to win at the AAA level, especially with a 90 million dollar payroll against minor league teams. What do you about Statistical records, free agents, contracts, etc. Suppose Zack Greinke is still on the Royals, and he has a great season and his team stinks the big one. They finish as the 3rd worst team in the league and get demoted. That off-season, Grienke is going into the last year of his contract. Hes now pitching against AAA players, he sets a record for Strikeouts and gets 24 wins, ERA is around 2.00. Is that record valid as an MLB record? How do you evaluate his stats and assess how much hes worth. I would assume that the other teams who are on the brink or have been demoted would try to sign him, obviously the top-tier teams would want him, but suppose a team that just barely missed getting demoted offers him the most money. Maybe he gets a contract that says his contract is void if the team gets demoted, or they have to trade him?

Also what do you do about fans? I would hope that the current MLB teams would have fans that are somewhat loyal and still come out after the demotion. At least the team would be winning, even if it didn't mean much. If the fans don't come out, and you've been demoted to AAA, you've got to find a way to make money to get the talent needed to move back up. Oppositely, what of the Tides after they are the best and move up to MLB? Very few minor league clubs will have the revenue capacity (even if they are signing and developing their own players) to compete at the MLB level. So when they move up, wouldn't they just be a beating stick? Sure it would be fun, in an underdog fashion, and it would be fun to have to see ARod and other Stars have to get dressed in crappy locker rooms around the Country, but the stadiums aren't even big enough. And what about TV and radio. I guess we would have to have a Television model where regions cover whatever team is the big one. So when the Orioles get demoted, whatever team comes up gets the TV production and radio time while the Orioles get pushed to whatever Radio stations are covering the minor league team.

In soccer leagues most contracts for better players have relegation release clauses, where they become free agents if their team gets relegated. I'd assume a similar setup would be used here, so if Greinke's team got relegated he'd go elsewhere.

And the fans generally follow the team no matter where it goes. Obviously the crowds aren't usually as large in the lower leagues, but I know some teams I follow that have been relegated still draw 20,000 or more a game. 1860 Munich was in the Bundesliga, and got relegated to the 2nd tier just about the same time they moved into the new Allianz Arena (which they share with Bayern Munich), and at least for a few years they drew better despite being in a lower league.

Another team I follow, Dagenham and Redbridge in England, just got promoted to the 3rd division a few years after being a 5th tier, "non-league" team. They play in a stadium that only has about 5000 seats, but are playing teams like Queens Park Rangers who've been in the Premier League fairly recently. They obviously face a lot of challenges even staying in the 3rd division.

But the incentive for not getting relegated is how much it sucks. You lose most of your good players, your opponents are all 2nd-tier teams, and your revenues fall off the table.

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Plus, in theory the "minor league" clubs would in many cases be better. If they are competing to make the majors, an owner in Indianapolis or Albuquerque or New Orleans might throw a lot of money at players for a run. Maybe not Grienke-level talent, but they might end up better than the Orioles or Pirates last year.

I've thought about this idea for a while, and I think there are ways to make it work.

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Plus, in theory the "minor league" clubs would in many cases be better. If they are competing to make the majors, an owner in Indianapolis or Albuquerque or New Orleans might throw a lot of money at players for a run. Maybe not Grienke-level talent, but they might end up better than the Orioles or Pirates last year.

I've thought about this idea for a while, and I think there are ways to make it work.

One of many obstacles would be that this would end the practice of Bud hand-picking owners. It would have to. And with that would come the inevitable: guys like Mark Cuban would buy a team in San Antonio or Las Vegas or Vancouver and inject $150M in startup cash, and they'd be in the majors in a year or two.

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