DETROIT – Perhaps the biggest element behind the NFL’s success is parity. Parity, which is perhaps at the core of baseball’s largest problems. The salary-cap and reverse-of-standings draft promote parity, as do shorter careers.
But the schedule does, too.
The schedule is not only shorter to give us the wacky products of small sample sizes, but the best teams are given more difficult schedules. It makes for both good television and the compression of standings.
(Bud are you listening? I have an idea …)
Baseball has this to a degree. Teams play more games within their division, which means big market coastal teams are playing more games against each other than the teams in fly-over country.
But baseball could, and perhaps ought, to go a step further with their inter-league schedule.
Does it really make much sense for the Pirates, which haven’t had a winning season pre-internet, to be playing the powerhouse Tigers while the Cardinals are playing the lowly Royals as their inter-league rival?
I don’t think so. I’m not saying the Cardinals shouldn’t have a geographic rival … but perhaps inter-league should be weighted where the best teams are scheduled to more often than not play the best teams. It will make for better TV, and i t will help compress the standings and keep more teams in races come September.
I don’t know if it’s possible, maybe the toothpaste is out of the tube, but baseball needs to try to win back a share of September from football.
Yes, a lot of different clubs have won the World Series recently, which owners point to as progress toward parity. But really there have just a handful of small-market clubs that have a chance any given September. To really draw fan interest back, more mid- and small-market teams need to have a chance going into the final month.
Division races should separate baseball. It’s a long season. September baseball needs to be special to more teams and it can start with an inter-league schedule tweak.
Because the Pirates playing the Tigers in May, is not going to help the Pirates’ chances of playing in a meaningful game in September.
QUICK HITTERS …
*It was a day late, and it cost the Pirates a game, but the front office did the right thing in sending Jose Contreras to the DL with an apparent injury and recalling Bryan Morris.
*Mike Zagurski is an intriguing guy out of the pen. Most teams struggle to find one left-handed situational pitcher and with Justin Wilson hitting 97 mph and Zagurski hitting 93 mph with some depth to his slider the Pirates might have found two.
*Jeanmar Gomez really wants to hang on to his rotation spot. I suspect Gerrit Cole or Charlie Morton will eventually grab it. I suspect more of Gomez’s groundballs will become base hits, but give Gomez credit for staying within himself and playing his game. He hasn’t been afraid to pitch to contact.
*Neil Walker looks like he’s found his rhythm. A game-winning HR and three hits last night, his second HR in four games. Walker and Andrew McCutchen haven’t played their best baseball yet which should help the Pirates stave off dramatic regression.