Congratulations go out to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas for their Hall of Fame inductions.  Both Maddux and Glavine received over 90% of the vote while The Big Hurt came in a little behind the hurlers with 83.7%.  Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio missed by the scantest of margins with 74.8% of the vote.  Mike Piazza saw a slight raise in his percentage while everyone else on the ballot, all the holdovers, went the other direction.  Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, both deserving candidates, each dropped a bit in the vote with former closer Lee Smith’s support falling off a cliff.

Jack Morris, his last try on the writer’s ballot, came up short with 61.5% while the two hot topic performers, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, each saw their limited support from last year slip a bit as well.  Rafael Palmeiro, a member of the 3,000 hit club and one of the top homerun hitters of all-time, fell short of the five percent needed to be retained for 2015’s ballot.

Earlier I made predictions for this year’s HOF class and, I must admit, they were off by quite a bit.  I viewed this class as a rather weak class with Greg Maddux as the only lock among the new-comers.  Tom Glavine received a lot more support than I imagined.  With new-comers to the ballot, I do the eyeball test first: I ask myself whether they looked like Hall of Famers when they played.  When I watched Greg Maddux pitch, I thought I was watching a Hall of Famer operate on the mound.  When I watched Frank Thomas hit, I thought I was watching a Hall of Fame slugger in the batter’s box.  When I watched Craig Biggio play, I thought I was watching a Hall of Famer perform.  I felt this way about Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza, as well, but never perceived Tom Glavine in such a way.  With Glavine, while he pitched, I felt he needed a home plate umpire with a liberal strike zone to succeed, and that he wasn’t in the upper echelon of performers, where peers like Maddux, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were stationed.

The 300 win benchmark pushed Glavine into the Hall of Fame, although, in this era, the concept of Hall of Fame benchmarks is now obsolete.  You can point to homerun kings like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as proof that benchmarks are meaningless nowadays, but a better representation of this concept is Craig Biggio.  Craig is a member of the 3,000 hit club and no right-handed hitter in the game’s history has more doubles than Mr. Biggio.  McGwire, Palmeiro and Sosa all have PED issues, which makes them poor subjects of the exit in benchmarks argument, but Craig Biggio was a man of class with an impeccable character.  After the ballot’s results were made public, Mr. Biggio again exuded class by congratulating the three men newly enshrined without taking shots at the 25% of writers who foolishly did not vote for him.

Will Craig Biggio make the Hall of Fame next year?  It wouldn’t shock me to see him fall below 70%, to be honest.  Next year he’ll have to contend with newcomers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz—all strong HOF candidates.  In 2016, he, Piazza and Bagwell will have a better shot, with Ken Griffey Jr. the main standout—other first-timers in 2016 are Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner.  In the upcoming years, 2017 looks to be the weakest group of first-timers with a pair of catchers, Jorge Posada and Ivan Rodriguez, leading the new-comers.  Vladimir Guerrero will see plenty support, and Manny Ramirez will also be on that ballot.  The names for 2018 look fairly impressive, with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome as locks, and Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel also on that year’s ballot.

The results for this year’s ballot are as follows, with 571 ballots cast: Greg Maddux (97.2), Tom Glavine (91.9) Frank Thomas (83.7), Craig Biggio (74.8), Mike Piazza (62.2), Jack Morris (61.5), Jeff Bagwell (54.3), Tim Raines (46.1), Roger Clemens (35.4), Barry Bonds (34.7), Lee Smith (29.9), Curt Schilling (29.2), Edgar Martinez (25.2), Alan Trammell (20.8), Mike Mussina (20.3), Jeff Kent (15.2), Fred McGriff (11.7), Mark McGwire (11), Larry Walker (10.2), Don Mattingly (8.2), Sammy Sosa (7.2), Rafael Palmeiro (4.4), Moises Alou (1.1), Hideo Nomo (1.1), Luis Gonzalez (0.9), Eric Gagne (0.4), J.T. Snow (0.4), Armando Benitez (0.2), Jacque Jones (0.2), Kenny Rogers (0.2), Mike Timlin, Richie Sexson, Paul LoDuca, Todd Jones, Ray Durham and Sean Casey (0%)

Next year, don’t be terribly surprised if big names like Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff and Jeff Kent fail to receive the five percent needed to be retained for 2016’s ballot.  It’s almost a guarantee that one, if not more, of these fellows will fall off the ballot in the upcoming years.  As of right now, if I had to cast a ballot for 2015, I’d vote for newcomers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz, while rounding out my ballot with holdovers Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Alan Trammell.  Voting for ten men seems excessive to me, but I have been swayed to Raines, Schilling and Trammell’s camps due to the Cooperstown comparisons.  Tim Raines was a poor man’s Rickey Henderson, Curt Schilling has the greatest strikeout-to-walk ratio in modern baseball history and Trammell is very comparable to recently enshrined Barry Larkin.

 

 

Congratulations go out to Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre for their election to the baseball Hall of Fame, courtesy the ballot on Expansion Era figures.  The three former skippers were worthy of their induction, for few managers in the game’s history have reached 2,000 career wins, and all three men did just that.

On the ballot were former Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion, Cox, hit-machine Steve Garvey, durable southpaw Tommy John, LaRussa, former Athletics and Yankees manager Billy Martin, union head Marvin Miller, slugging outfielder Dave Parker, submarine closer Dan Quisenberry, switch-hitting Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Torre.

The panel of voters was allowed to cast five votes apiece, with only the three aforementioned managers receiving 75% of the vote.  Had a ballot been offered me, I would have cast votes for the three that were enshrined, and added checks beside the names of Ted Simmons and Dan Quisenberry.  Not only was Simmons one of the finest catchers of his era—he was a more reliable offensive performer than esteemed peers Bench and Fisk—but he is one of the best backstops of all-time.  With Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage in the Hall of Fame, their peer Dan Quisenberry, who was more effective than the two enshrined closers, would have also received a vote from my pen.

Since only five names could have been cast, I would have neglected slick-fielding shortstop Dave Concepcion.  Defense was his game but Davey handled a decent stick.  Steve Garvey and Billy Martin I consider to be fringe candidates, as well as George Steinbrenner, who, need I remind you, was reviled throughout the majority of his tenure.  Tommy John pitched a long time and has never struck me as Hall of Fame material, and had Dave Parker not experienced a mid-career meltdown, he would be a strong candidate for enshrinement, but he rests in the same category as Luis Tiant: players who excelled for years but had seasons in their “prime” when they were abysmal.

As for Marvin Miller, I motion that he be stricken from future consideration.  This motion will assuredly offend a great many, who feel his influence on the game of baseball was instrumental, but the Hall of Fame was erected to honor baseball legends, players and executives alike.  It was not constructed to honor lawyers, whose tie to the game was strictly of a legal manner.  Former scouts, groundskeepers, reconstructive surgeons, public address announcers, all have as much right as Marvin Miller for Hall of Fame consideration, yet who would want to waste one of the dozen spaces on the ballot for someone that neither played the game nor built a contending team?  Marvin Miller took a space on the ballot that should have gone to someone like Dwight Evans, Ron Guidry or Amos Otis.

 

 

The result of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame vote will be announced on January 8th.  In order to gain enshrinement in Cooperstown, the former player listed on the ballot must receive 75% of the votes cast.  To be held over for next year’s vote, players must receive at least five percent of the vote.

Among the first-timers on the ballot, Greg Maddux is clearly the standout and should receive over 90% on his initial Hall of Fame try.  Longtime Maddux teammate Tom Glavine will certainly see some support, but the southpaw isn’t an obvious selection like his Atlanta chum.  Frank Thomas and Jeff Kent stand the best chance among first-time position players.  Holdovers from last year, Craig Biggio and Jack Morris netted over 60% of the vote while stars Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza were named on over 55% of the votes.

What follows are my predictions for the vote, with last year’s percentage listed in parentheses.

Greg Maddux 89.2% (first time), Craig Biggio 79.3 (68.2%), Jack Morris 74.0% (67.7%), Mike Piazza 68.8% (57.8%), Jeff Bagwell 64.4% (59.6%), Tim Raines 54.5% (52.2%), Frank Thomas 53.4% (first time), Lee Smith 48.8% (47.8%), Curt Schilling 44.6% (38.8%), Tom Glavine 41.8% (first time), Roger Clemens 40.6% (37.6), Edgar Martinez 39.8% (35.9%), Barry Bonds 36.6% (36.2%), Alan Trammell 35.5% (33.6%), Jeff Kent 30.4% (first time), Larry Walker 23.2% (21.6%), Mike Mussina 20.4% (first time), Fred McGriff 18.8% (20.7%), Mark McGwire 17.1% (16.9%), Don Mattingly 14.2% (13.2%), Sammy Sosa 12.5% (12.5%), Luis Gonzalez 8.6% (first time), Rafael Palmeiro 7.7% (8.8%), Moises Alou 4.0% (first time), Eric Gagne 2.2% (first time), Kenny Rogers 1.4% (first time), Ray Durham 1.2% (first time), Hideo Nomo 0.8% (first time), Armando Benitez 0.2% (first time), Sean Casey 0.2% (first time), Jacque Jones 0.0% (first time), Todd Jones 0.0% (first time), Paul LoDuca 0.0% (first time), J.T. Snow 0.0% (first time), Richie Sexson 0.0% (first time), Mike Timlin 0.0% (first time)

Greg Maddux should receive over 90% but voters are more fickle now than they have ever been.  Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza should have made the Hall of Fame last year but were snubbed.  The consensus seems that many writers have impugned every player from the Steroid Era, regardless their character, which forces me to speculate that Maddux—who should be a lock for enshrinement—might not receive 90% of the vote.  My ballot would have Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas and Curt Schilling.

 

If you watch MLB Network for five minutes, you’re bound to hear something quite stupid escape the lips of one of their analysts.  The other day, Mitch Williams was debating Jack Morris’s Hall of Fame qualifications, and regurgitated a concept I heard Harold Reynolds posit last year: that you shouldn’t focus too much on Jack’s peripheral numbers because he “pitched to the situation.”  They claimed that when Morris would get five or six runs, he might surrender four or five in return.  I’m sorry, but run support is a security blanket for pitchers, not an invitation to pitch poorly.

Before I get too much into this post, I should state how I dislike doing this: writing about how a former player doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.  It’s difficult enough to get enshrined without scribes writing pieces about how you don’t belong there.  I always liked Jack Morris.  He seemed to me a fierce competitor with nothing but the utmost respect for the game of baseball, but if what Mitch and Harold say is true, then his “pitching to the situation” completely negates the “fierce competitor” analysis I had of Jack.

When people make a case for Morris they typically point to his wins.  He is the winningest pitcher of the 1980s, with more victories than any hurler from the years 1980 to 1989.  On wins alone, Morris would seem a lock for the Hall of Fame, but we’re no longer in the era of judging a pitcher based solely on his record.  Jack’s peripheral stats are anyhting but spectacular, and when I compare him to a number of his 1980s peers—all of whom are not on the Hall of Fame ballot—you’ll see just how modest of a career Mr. Morris had.  Let’s begin, shall we?

I have assembled of group of pitchers who pitched in the same decade as Morris, and will compare their peripheral stats (some of the most important stats) to see just how Jack measures up against his peers.  The attributes of a good pitcher are keeping runners off base and forbidding those you allow to reach from crossing the plate.  The pitchers I have chosen at random are a collection of solid pitchers, but hurlers the writers felt weren’t good enough to remain on the ballot.  They are: Doyle Alexander, John Candelaria, Danny Darwin, Ron Guidry, Orel Hershiser, Jimmy Key, Dennis Martinez, Rick Reuschel, Bret Saberhagen, Scott Sanderson, Mike Scott, Dave Stieb, Frank Tanana, Frank Viola and Bob Welch.

ERA (earned run average): Guidry (3.29), Candelaria (3.33), Saberhagen (3.34), Reuschel (3.37), Stieb (3.44), Welch (3.47), Hershiser (3.48), Key (3.51), Scott (3.54), Tanana (3.66), Martinez (3.70), Viola (3.73), Alexander (3.76), Darwin (3.84), Sanderson (3.84), Jack Morris, 3.90

WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning): Saberhagen (1.141), Candelaria (1.184), Guidry (1.184), Scott (1.201), Key (1.229), Stieb (1.245), Sanderson (1.255), Hershiser (1.261), Martinez (1.266), Darwin (1.268), Tanana (1.270), Welch (1.270), Reuschel (1.275), Alexander (1.293), Jack Morris (1.296), Viola (1.301)

BB/9 (walks allowed per nine innings): Saberhagen (1.7), Candelaria (2.1), Sanderson (2.2), Key (2.3), Guidry (2.4), Reuschel (2.4), Alexander (2.6), Darwin (2.6), Martinez (2.6), Scott (2.7), Tanana (2.7), Viola (2.7), Hershiser (2.9), Welch (3.0), Stieb (3.2), Jack Morris (3.3)

SO/BB (strikeout to walk ratio): Saberhagen (3.64), Candelaria (2.83), Guidry (2.81), Sanderson (2.58), Scott (2.34), Key (2.30), Darwin (2.22), Tanana (2.21), Reuschel (2.16), Viola (2.13), Hershiser (2.00), Welch (1.90), Martinez (1.84), Jack Morris (1.78), Stieb (1.61), Alexander (1.56)

These statistics are crucial to good pitching, and when you judge Morris against his peers—those the writers view as inferior—you see that Morris was the worst of the crop.  Jack won a lot of games, like the pitchers of the Yankees juggernauts of the Ruth/Gehrig era, by pitching deep into games for high-powered teams.  Detroit of Morris’s tenure were typically among the American League’s highest run scoring teams.  In 1980, when Jack won 16 games, the Tigers led the Majors with 830 runs scored.  He went 17-16 in 1982 on a 4.06 ERA (handily the worst ERA among their starting pitchers: Dan Petry had a 3.22 mark, Milt Wilcox 3.62 and Jerry Ujdur 3.69).  His Tigers teams usually had strong bats capable of swatting the long ball.  Detroit paced the AL in homeruns as a team in 1984 while also leading the junior circuit with 829 runs.  In ’85, Detroit had one position player that failed to reach double-digits in dingers: Tom Brookens.  Morris had stars like Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson and Chet Lemon hitting for him, and long ball threats like Lance Parrish and Darrell Evans slugging to beat the band.  With all that support, it’s little wonder that Jack won more games than any pitcher during the 1980s, even on his paltry peripheral stats.

The Veteran’s Committee, this year, will focus on players that debuted before World War II.  Their latest of countless alterations mandates that the Veteran’s Committee will only focus on ten individuals from the pre and post WWII era, with the eras under scrutiny flip-flopping ever year.  Next year, they will analyze the merits of players who debuted after World War II.  That being said, this year’s ballot lists a number of names modern fans have never heard of, but some who have legitimate cases for enshrinement.  The list is as follows:

Sam Breadon: St. Louis Cardinals owner during famous Gashouse Gang days.

Bad Bill  Dahlen: legendary shortstop of the Deadball Era

Wes Ferrell: pitcher during the rock ’em sock ’em prewar days.

Marty Marion: Cardinals shortstop noted more for defense.

Tony Mullane: forgotten pitching star of the late 1800s.

Hank O’Day: well-respected umpire who worked for 30 years.

Al Reach: early baseball pioneer best known for producing the famous “Reach Guide.”

Jacob Ruppert: Yankees owner from 1915 to 1945–responsible for bringing Ruth to New York

Bucky Walters: Reds ace during their heyday prior to WWII.

Deacon White: early baseball ironman who caught and played third base.

Of this group, had I a vote (there are 16 former players, executive and historians that have a vote on the Veteran’s ballot), I would certainly cast one for Dahlen, whose exclusion from Cooperstown is absurd.  He is the only person on this ballot that I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for.  However, given Ruppert’s ten championships at the helm of the Yankees, he most certainly should be in the Hall of Fame with the likes of Tom Yawkey.  Deacon White deserves serious consideration and the more I analyze the old star, the more I support his enshrinement.  Tony Mullane and Sam Breadon I am iffy on, as well as Hank O’Day–there aren’t many umpires in the Hall, so O’Day would be a good fit.  Tim Hurst was an early umpire worth looking at too.

Albert Reach might be the most interesting person on this ballot.  A former outfielder/second baseman, Reach hit .353 the first year baseball was organized, but his numbers fell off drastically after that.  Reach isn’t on the ballot for his playing, however, for the man is best known as a baseball pioneer, much in the fashion of Al Spalding.  Reach opened a sporting goods store in 1874, which was the largest such company in the States until he merged with Spalding.  He nevertheless continued to published his famous “Reach Guide,” an indispensable booklet for the baseball fanatic.  Reach and chum Ben Shibe, another baseball pioneer worthy of serious Hall of Fame discussion, created the figure eight pattern used on baseballs since the covering originally employed failed to protect the ball.  About designing the figure eight pattern, Reach said, ““There were two manufacturers of reputation when I began to play ball in the fifties—Harvey Ross, of Brooklyn, and John Van Horn of New York.  The cover they made was of horsehide, but a different design was used.  Their design, a sort of clover leaf, left a weak spot where the ends of the cover were stitched together.  It was usually there that the cover ripped off during a hard game, for we had heavy hitters in those days.  After the ball with the new design appeared the ‘figure eight’ soon became the standard recognized all over the country” (Sioux City Journal, 8-09-1925).

Reach deserves serious consideration for what he meant to the game during its infancy.  Of the remaining group, Bucky Walters was a very good pitcher, and pitched in a hitter’s era, as was Ferrell, but there are better pitchers from that era, such as Tommy Bridges and Charlie Root, who should have made this ballot instead of them.  Ferrell has his supporters, but his peripheral stats are atrocious.  For a man who never pitched on a pennant winner, he certainly has a very good record, with a winning percentage slightly over .600, but Ferrell’s WHIP is abysmal; he never once finished in the Top Ten in his league in that important category.  Ferrell chewed innings (but who didn’t during that time?), but the fact that he coughed up more hits than innings worked while also issuing more walks that strikeouts he racked up, means Ferrell has little business on a Hall of Fame ballot.  He was usually among the league leaders in hits allowed and walks issued–two stats you don’t want your name mentioned in.  Ferrell led the league in hits allowed three consecutive seasons–he is not a Hall of Famer.

Marty Marion is another suspect selection since there are dozens of players who played before WWII that were quite better than him.  A tall, slender shortstop, Marion wasn’t the hitter that shortstop peers like Appling, Boudreau, Johnny Pesky and Cecil Travis were, but his glove kept him around.  His claim to fame is winning the MVP in 1944 while a member of the World Champion Cardinals, but Musial, who won the honor the year prior, was clearly the heart and soul of that club.  A career .263 hitter, Marion once led the league in doubles and was a good man for a sacrifice, but his worth was with the leather.  An elite defensive shortstop, Marion, offensively speaking, doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the four aforementioned players.  The Hall of Fame has always placed a premium on offense, which is why Marion’s inclusion on the ballot is a tad strange.  However, there are much better all-round players from the prewar era not on the ballot who should be there instead of Marion.  Buddy Myer comes to mind, as does Lave Cross and George Van Haltren.  Cy Williams, Jake Daubert, Ed McKean, Jack Glasscock, Heine Groh… I could go on and on, would make for better selections than Marion.  Marty Marion was a good ballplayer, one of the best defensive shortstops off all-time, but to place him on a list of the the best ten former players and executives of the prewar era is asinine.

That’s my two cents, feel free to cast two copper pieces of your own.

To name all the former players who at one time held the career record for homeruns is to offer a short roll call of names.  Barry Bonds recently broke Hank Aaron’s record, which Mr. Aaron took from Babe Ruth, who held the record for several decades.  The Bambino toppled the mark set by Hall of Famer Roger Connor, while Connor broke the record held by the man who set the original mark: Mr. Harry Stovey.  Ruth, Aaron and Connor are all Hall of Famers while Bonds will be judged for the Hall of Fame in the up-coming year.  As for Harry Stovey, few people can recall his name because he has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The honor has yet to be bestowed upon the legend of the 1800s because historians pay little notice to Stovey’s primary league: the old American Association.

The reason Harry Stovey, one of the greatest speed/power combo threats in the game’s rich history, has been passed over repeatedly for inducted is the stigma of the American Association (AA).  Often referred to as “The Beer and Whiskey League,” the AA was deemed a lesser caliber of play to the dominant National League.  Be that as it may, Stovey participated in both leagues and shined in each one.  The early legend of baseball was a five-time single season homerun champ–he won the homerun crown his rookie year–and also led the league in triples and runs scored in four separate seasons.  Due to his many league leading totals, Stovey’s rank on the “Black Ink Test,” which focuses on the totals of league-leading stats, rests high on the all-time board and exceeds most of his peers.  Stovey’s Black Ink mark is a stellar 56.  Hall of Fame peers Billy Hamilton (43), Hugh Duffy (35), Orator O’Rourke (27), King Kelly (23) and Tommy McCarthy (3) all rest well below Harry’s mark.

If one were to offer a modern ballplayer as a likeness to Stovey, the name Barry Bonds would come to mind.  Both ballplayers were exceptional athletes who were capable of leading their respective leagues in both homeruns and stolen bases.  Although the stolen base stat wasn’t kept on a regular basis during the first few years of Stovey’s career, he nevertheless led his league in that department on three occasions.  Old literature on the game will often list Stovey, in one of the years the stolen base wasn’t kept, as having pilfered over 150 bases in a single season.  Perhaps, had stats been annotated like they are today, Ty Cobb, Maury Wills and Rickey Henderson would not be considered the record holders of past and present in that department.

At one point in baseball history, Harry Stovey held the single season record in both homeruns and stolen bases.  An accomplished all-round ballplayer, Stovey was a slugging threat (he paced the league three times in slugging percentage) who also ran the bases with the speed of a gazelle.  Although his career was anything but lengthy, Harry rests 21st all-time in the career triples department.  Due to his prolific offensive accomplishments, Stovey remains, to this day, one of the single greatest run manufacturers in the game’s history.  Capable of scoring and driving in a ton of runs, Stovey is one of just a select few ballplayers in history to average over a run scored per game.  As a manufacturer of runs, scored and driven-in, Stovey is in the class of the elite.  He accounted for an average of 1.615 runs manufactured per game, a tally that exceeded Hall of Fame peers Kelly (1.586), Hamilton (1.530), O’Rourke (1.469) and McCarthy (1.412).  Modern day comparisons, Derek Jeter (1.208) and Alex Rodriguez (1.525) show that Stovey was quite remarkable, regardless the era.

When Harry Stovey passed away, he received a little support for the Hall of Fame but those individuals who turn their nose up to the American Association kept him from garnering much support.  The highest percentage of the Hall of Fame vote Stovey ever received came just prior to his death when he netted the small total of 7.7% of the vote.  A case could be made for Harry Stovey as the most underrated player in baseball history, for the man seemed to lack a weakness on the field.  He was both swift and strong, leading his league in long balls and thefts on several occasions.

The rank of baseball purists seems to be dwindling with each passing year as every institution seems to be adopting the plea used by AT&T, I believe, as their motto: “Rethink Possible.”  The postseason used to be about the best clubs each league had to offer squaring off against each other, but now it is merely a contest of teams hot at the right time.  This postseason, like the last few, is not populated with the best teams of each league as the St. Louis Cardinals, who backed their way into the World Series last year as the Wild Card team in the National League have done it again–only this time they needed a second doggone Wild Card to secure a place in postseason play.  As a baseball purist I feel the postseason has lost much credibility with the advent of wild cards, but as a human possessing the capacity for reason, I fully understand that once change is adopted, it is damn difficult returning to previous days.  What I propose, which will be detailed in the following paragraphs, is a realignment of baseball (let us not forget that realignment is taking place next year regardless) which, although not a return to the game’s elder days, hearkens back to a time when teams were judged on sustained excellence and not pockets thereof.

My realignment proposal begins with a return to the two division standpoint.  Gone are the central divisions, thus negating a postseason wild card.  The divisions would be as follows:

AL East: Blue Jays, Indians, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees

AL West: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Royals and Twins

* The Houston Astros are moving to the AL West this coming season

NL East: Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates and Reds

NL West: Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Rockies

With the two division platform for each league, the Division Series will be abolished under this proposal, which leaves the League Championship Series, engaged between the leaders of each division and the World Series, participated by the winner of the LCS, as the main aspect of postseason play.  The reason I wrote main aspect is because the final proposal I have will shy away from my baseball purist mentality and massage the needs of those who require change.  In order to appease those gluttons for change who enjoy the March Madness mindset of college basketball, my final proposal is a winner-take-all tournament that will employ every team that failed to reach the four-team postseason.  This way, every baseball fan, regardless if his team stinks or not, will have something to root for in October.  The tournament will take place during the regular postseason play but will not be aired prime time, because the LCS and World Series will be allotted that time slot.  The tournament could be a one-loss-and-you’re-out affair or a lengthy tournament that spans the range of the LCS and World Series–which could be best of seven or best of nine series.  Either way, the integrity of the postseason isn’t compromised, since the best teams of each division will be engaged in the traditional postseason while the teams that failed to cop a flag will join the tournament.

I’d like to hear your views on this change–whether it’s too radical for baseball or not–and the changes you would propose to make the postseason a more legitimate affair.  Certainly I am not the only person tired of teams with inferior records participating late in the postseason while the team’s that accumulated more wins are pushed out of the postseason because Lady Luck cares not for their team’s colors.