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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.

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.