MLB Realignment on Freakonomics

From Freakonomics:

What proposed realignment changes seem to make the most sense from a competitive and economic standpoint for Major League Baseball?

If you’ve read through the five-part series explaining my own realignment proposal, you know it’s fairly radical, but you also know it addresses several issues that are important to both fans and MLB owners.  It increases the number of games (and thus, revenues) for most teams without lengthening the season and generates new interest on a host of different levels.

For the benefit of anyone who clicked through from my comment at Freakonomics, I’m editing and reposting the summary below and then linking all five parts for anyone who cares to read through the whole thing.

Summary

If you haven’t read the whole series, I am proposing that MLB separate the regular season and playoffs into two separate competitions that would run concurrently throughout the calendar year, resulting in an MLB Cup (playoff) champion and an MLB (regular season) League Championship that begins and ends at the same time of year as the current MLB structure.

The MLB Cup will take on a new feel compared to the current playoff structure, as a group-and-knockout competition not unlike UEFA’s Champions League for soccer.  Placement in this competition is based on the prior season’s MLB League Championship results.

Sixteen teams would contend for the MLB Cup, starting with eight automatic qualifiers from the prior season, and eight teams contesting the MLB Cup Qualification Playoff (MCQP) at the two main Spring Training sites in March.  The result is three tiers of teams: Elites, Contenders, and Regulars, each of which play a regional group competition culminating in a championship series, which takes place over the last two weeks of October.

The MLB League Championship would be organized geographically to take advantage of existing regional rivalries and perhaps open up some new ones.  Instead of trying to balance a 15-team league’s schedule with year-round interleague play, my proposal places a heavier emphasis on regional games and merges the two existing leagues into one for all practical purposes.

In this format, teams would play a minimum of 168 and a maximum of 183 games, with the difference representing the variable number of games in each Regional Championship series and the various tiers’ cup championships.  The entire season can be contested over the same time period as the current MLB season + one-half week, assuming the All-Star Break remains intact, and it will include more regular season off days than ever before (since over half the league currently won’t play at all in October).

Full posts

Part 1: Introduction (why realign?)
Part 2: The MLB Cup
Part 3: The MLB League Championship
Part 4: Revenue Sharing
Part 5: Summary and Conclusions (with advantages and disadvantages)

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