Bud Selig defiant

So what do you think about the realignment thing?

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As Drew wrote over the weekend and as everyone has been talking about since, Major League Baseball is considering realignment. There are a couple of flavors to it:  either just having the Astros moving to the AL or having that happen plus the elimination of divisions.  As has frequently been noted in these reports, that this will happen is no sure bet. It’s just something on the table.

My initial reaction to it all is cautious optimism. I agree with Drew’s take about it being unfair that some teams are in a four team division and others in a six team division.  I don’t have a visceral problem with an interleague series taking place at all times because, by this point, interleague has been around long enough to where it isn’t remarkable. Maybe if there is more overall interleague play it will allow the unfairness of teams in the same division playing interleague slates of varying difficulty to be fixed a bit.

As I’ve written a few times recently, I also like the notion of divisions being eliminated and the top four or five (if they insist on an expanded playoffs) teams making the playoffs. This would help some AL East teams or others who, in the future, may have to deal with a would-be divisional foe with a massive spending advantage. And would help reduce the possibility of a truly wretched team from  making the playoffs. If it did happen you’d almost have to balance the schedules, it seems, and I’m not sure that baseball is willing to take Red Sox-Yankees games off the schedule.

My biggest area of concern is less of a competitive concern than it is of a business concern, and it may very well be the reason this doesn’t happen:  as of now we have multiple playoff races, even if they’re diminished somewhat due to the wild card and playoff expansion.  If you go to a “take the top five teams” scenario, would it not make it likely that, in several years, you’d really only have one playoff race, and that’s for the fifth best record in each league?  Not exactly riveting, and it could have a negative impact at the gate.

But like I said, I haven’t wrapped my brain around it yet and, unless and until there is a concrete proposal out there with some non-trivial chance at passing, I’m not sure I want to invest more brain time in it.

But I do want to know what you think, so let’s do this totally unscientifically with a quickie internet poll.  More importantly, let’s talk about it in the comments.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.