Saturday Oct 23, 2021

The middle extremes show that baseball’s problems are not geographic

One group features the last team to win consecutive pennants, as well as two other teams that made the playoffs last year. It should translate into a fairly competitive group, perhaps among the best in all of baseball.

The other group, however, have had only one of their clubs reach the postseason in the past four years, including three that have not won a pennant in a total of eighty-six years. A reasonable assumption would be that this quintet of teams would rank among the worst in the majors, probably with an embarrassing overall winning percentage.

The two groups, the AL Central and its National League counterpart, do have wingers. However, if you based it on the paragraphs above, you would be very wrong in your assumption.

With a combined 99-143 record so far in 2018, the AL Central hardly resembles the group that boasted of having had two of the last three pennant champions as well as two playoff clubs so recently. like last season. In fact, he is in danger of being represented in the postseason by a team that has lost more than it has won, as the 24-25 Cleveland Indians currently sit at the top of the division.

Directly across the page, the situation at NL Central is almost the opposite. The five clubs boast a combined record of 127 wins and 120 losses, the best overall record among baseball’s six divisions. Take out the Cincinnati bottom feeder, and that mark becomes 109-87.

Front office staff, especially those on losing teams, are always quick to blame their market size for their lack of success. They claim that their small fan base prevents them from pursuing big-name free agents, but that excuse clearly cannot be validated.

If a Midwestern city like Milwaukee can compete, as the Brewers have done for the past two seasons, then a much larger city like Detroit has little excuse for finishing near the bottom for the past three years. The same can be said for the two Ohio teams, the Reds and the Indians. Cleveland won a pennant in 2016 and has been among the favorites to capture another in each of the past two seasons. Cincinnati, on the other hand, has posted the worst overall record in baseball since 2015.

Again, the failure cannot be blamed on the size of the market, as the two cities are comparable in size and share the same state. Two other clubs at opposite ends share not only the same state, but also the same city.

The Cubs have reached the NL Championship Series in each of the last three seasons, and are currently near the top of the Central Division again in 2018. By contrast, their South Side Chicago neighbors haven’t even smelled the postseason for a decade. , and the White Sox so far this season have the worst record in baseball.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and other MLB officials must address the drastic discrepancy in the game, as this situation between the Core Divisions is a symptom of a lack of competitive balance that will only get worse if it continues to be ignored. Allowing owners to gut their teams in what is euphemistically called a rebuild alienates America’s hobby fans, as does the tired excuse of market size.

When clubs do not compete in successive seasons, the Commissioner’s office must punish the owners. For every season a team finishes below .500, the MLB must fine the owner. Underperforming owners, then, would have to upgrade their equipment or sell it.

For example, Cincinnati owner Bob Castellini would be more likely to go after a top pitcher if he knew that another losing season would result in another fine from MLB officials. The same could be said of Miami’s new owner Derek Jeter, whose first move was to trade current NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and two other All-Stars in less than a month at the front office.

Most fans have been lamenting two concepts in baseball for the past few seasons, namely home runs and strikeouts. However, the two concepts that further hurt the future of baseball are the terms “Market Size” and “Reconstruction.”

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