MLB might eliminate leagues, go with universal DH for 2020

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Eliminate MLB leagues? Yep. Read on.

One of the things I’ve been reminded of while doing all of those Today in Baseball History posts is that, until very recently, MLB as an institution didn’t really manage the game in an active way. Rather, the leagues — the National League and American League — did. Major League Baseball handled negotiations with the players union and worked on national TV deals, but each of the leagues had their own presidents, each had their own set of umpires, each doled out discipline, each made its own decisions about expansion and things like that.

It was not until Bud Selig took over that power was truly consolidated in the main MLB office. At first the league presidents became ceremonial figures. Then they were eliminated entirely. Then everything of substance was put under MLB’s umbrella. Today the AL and NL exist solely as organizational concepts and don’t function like actual leagues, with the DH or lack thereof being the only real difference between them.

Which makes this report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today make a lot of sense. He says that Major League Baseball is considering doing away with the American and National Leagues for the 2020 season entirely.

Like the Arizona Bubble League thing it’s just an idea being thrown out there, but to eliminate MLB leagues is something of a radical idea. As for the specifics of the idea: they’d split the 30 teams between Arizona and Florida based on the geography of their spring training sites, creating Cactus League and Grapefruit League divisions for the abbreviated season. What’s more — and what’s likely to get the most discussion — would be that the DH “would likely be universally implemented.” Which, really, if you’re expanding rosters and dealing with weird, fastracked, pitcher-health-endangering baseball to begin with, is probably a good idea.

Nightengale says that two more Wild Card teams could be added or — echoing an idea I had last month — they could possibly have a postseason tournament with all 30 teams.

Again, they’re throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I have no problem with that. If and when they play baseball this year, it will not be in any way a normal situation, so expecting normality on-the-field is probably not realistic.

No lease extension, but Orioles and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.