Not So Amazin

September 25, 2003

I went to the Mets game last night, or at least as much of the Mets game that we could stand. The Mets beat the Pirates 5-3 in front of a sparse assemblage that could hardly constitute a crowd. The game, or at least 5 innings, defined dull.

This was one of the many meaningless baseball games that close out the season. There's little reason to go to these games (unless you get free tickets.) For the Mets, the last 60 games or so have been pointless. Baseball needs to give some reason for non-competitive teams to play the last month (or more) of the season. European soccer leagues have relegation, where the bottom couple of teams from the top league are relegated to the next level down.

Baseball's minor leagues could, in theory, support a system of relegation, where the worst teams (the Mets, Tigers) would drop down to triple A, while the top Triple A teams would step up to the big leagues. While, in theory, this would be a good idea, the farm systems would make it unfeasible. Assume that the Mets were demoted, while Richmond (the Braves'' Triple A team) was promoted. Then, the Mets organization would have no teams at the major league level, while the Braves organization would have none. If the minor league teams were not affiliated with the major league teams, the system might be feasible. The way that baseball works now, such a system is too far-fetched to be possible. With such a long season, baseball needs some incentive for the teams at the bottom.

I agree with Bob Costas that expanded playoffs are inferior to true pennant races, so expanding the playoffs to NHL-like inclusiveness would be dull and pointless. Besides the carrot of the pennant, baseball needs a reason for teams to play in order to avoid the cellar.

Posted by Andrew Raff at September 25, 2003 08:21 PM
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