SBD/June 15, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Scioscia Downplays Suggestion That MLB Could Eliminate Divisions

Scioscia says MLB's on-field committee has not discussed cutting divisions

Angels manager Mike Scioscia yesterday "shot a considerable hole through speculation" that MLB is considering eliminating divisions as part of its realignment plan, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. TIMES. Scioscia, a member of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, said, “I haven’t heard anything about eliminating divisions -- I don’t think that works. I think divisional play and the geographic rivalries that come with it are important. More teams have opportunities to get to the playoffs in five-team divisions." He added, "Our committee has not discussed eliminating divisions” (LATIMES.com, 6/14). Cardinals P and player rep Kyle McClellan yesterday confirmed that "discussions about realignment of divisions are part of ongoing talks" between MLB and the MLBPA regarding the next CBA, and he believes that "there are strong arguments for change." McClellan said, “I really like (interleague play). I think it’s exciting for us to see the stadiums and to face the different players. But the way it’s set up is unfair." Current alignment requires teams in the same division to play interleague schedules “that include series against a designated ‘rival’ team.” McClellan said, "It’s very important to play the same schedule when it comes down to the best record getting you into the playoffs.” He would not “handicap the chances of realignment occurring because the issue is one of many in play" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/15).

CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD: In DC, Dave Sheinin notes while MLB officials are giving realignment a "less than 50-50 chance of coming to fruition by 2012, this is a time of soul-searching and brainstorming within the game, and you have to applaud the effort spent trying to level the playing field.” For teams such as the Orioles and Nationals, the “notion of two-15 team leagues with five playoff teams apiece -- and no more ties to East-Coast divisions full of huge payrolls -- has to be welcome news.” It will not “be possible to satisfy everyone,” but players and management “appear amenable to making changes in the interest of fairness, and that’s good news for baseball” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15). In Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty suggests ways to improve MLB under the header, "Suggestions For Selig." Daugherty: "Go ahead and realign. Send Houston or Arizona to the AL. Then divide into three, five team NL divisions. Do it by market size” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/15).

DON'T MESS WITH A GOOD THING: SI.com’s Joe Lemire writes if MLB realigns into two 15-team leagues and eliminates divisions, the league “might as well hand the ballplayers pucks and a hoop, too, because baseball will have lost its playoff identity and joined the NHL and NBA in their free-for-all postseason entrance.” Lemire: “If baseball is intent on expanding its postseason to five teams per league, then it should just go ahead and add the second wild card without abolishing the divisional format that has served baseball so well since 1969” (SI.com, 6/15). In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes, "Realignment should be reserved for automobiles and spines, not baseball. They're constantly massaging this game. They should leave it alone.” Realignment, "in some form, is going to happen." A baseball official said, "There's a definite probability something's going to come out of this." Canepa notes the "proposed system guarantees interleague play isn’t going to go away," because with two 15-team leagues, "there would have to be an interleague series once a week.” Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad said “Our fan base seems to respond well to interleague play. The competition is there and that’s a positive. I don’t know that interleague play won’t have less meaning as we go along” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/15).

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