Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Study on Teams in the Spring Training States 2/29/20

Hey baseball fans!

2020 Spring Training is officially upon us, which means we don't care about the American and National Leagues right now. It's all about Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues! During Spring Training, the eastern MLB teams head to Florida, while the teams in the west head to Arizona. What's interesting about this is that Florida and Arizona were some of the last states to get baseball teams. Why is that important? Read on to find out!

It's no coincidence that the Rays, Marlins, and Diamondbacks are three teams that could look to relocation in the coming future. Just this week, it was released that the D-Backs have talked about moving to Vancouver, having visited the Canadian city and hometown of Seth Rogen twice in the last two years. I actually really like the Diamondbacks stadium and their attendance is only so-so, not dwindling like the Rays and Marlins. So, why the potential move? Well, in 1946, when Bill Veeck convinced the Indians and Giants (then in New York) to play some Spring Training games in Phoenix, wanting to rid his franchise (he had just bought the Indians) of the African-American discrimination of Florida, he inadvertently created the Cactus League. The Grapefruit League was formed years before, some claiming as early as 1913. So, by the time the Marlins (1993), Rays, and Diamondbacks (both 1998) came into existence, for four to six weeks of every February and March, Floridians and Arizonans got front row seats to their favorite teams outside their state.

The Yankees and Dodgers have well-known fan bases in Florida, dating back to when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. "Dodgertown" in Vero Beach, Florida became a hub for Dodger fans in the eastern part of the country as early as 1948. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been playing in George M. Steinbrenner Field since 1996, two years before the Rays moved into the exact same metropolitan area. As for the Diamondbacks? Well, the Cactus League had as many as nine teams playing Spring Training games in Arizona in 1989, also the year when two western teams, the Giants and A's, were in the World Series. My point here is that the MLB placed expansion teams in cities where a lot of fans rooted for other teams. Now, all three teams have made the World Series in the 20+ years of their respective existences, but their current success is satisfactory at best (and even worse for the Marlins).

So, I raise the point again, just like I have so many times before: relocation and expansion is how to keep a sport from going stale. Arizona to Las Vegas, Tampa to Montreal, and Miami to Charlotte or Nashville (not to mention Oakland to Portland). Leave the Sunshine and Grand Canyon States for baseball in the winter. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, February 21, 2020

Five Teams That Need New Threads 2/21/20

Hey baseball fans!

MLB The Show 20 comes out next month, and one of the biggest additions to the latest edition of the beloved video game franchise is the long-awaited chance to change a team's entire identity in Franchise Mode. In honor of this new option, let's talk about teams that need a rebrand in the current MLB landscape.

#5: New York Yankees
Why? Don't hate on my idea just yet. Obviously the Yankees look is iconic, but it's time for some updates to the formula. I'm not saying they should change their main color to pink, but maybe an alternate uniform with some pizazz is in order. They should really use their logo with the baseball and the bat as the leg of the "K" more often, for starters.

#4: Los Angeles Angels
Why? Among all the teams that could use a name change, "The Angels Angels" is towards the top of the list. I also wouldn't mind seeing the Halos go back to their powder blues or their midnight blue hats. I'm just not a fan of the red right now.

#3: Chicago Cubs
Why? Same reason as the Yankees. It's about time the Cubbies updated their uniforms in a drastic way. I mean, their logo is a bear. Why not try something brown? I know it sounds bad, but the Padres certainly pull it off. Also, what do cubs (or Bears) have to do with Chicago? I know the Cubs got their name from their young roster when the name was decided, but Chicago is such a unique and historical city that I'm surprised the Cubs moniker has stuck around for so long.

#2: Colorado Rockies
Why? The purple just hasn't worked in Colorado and the name is just a mountain range. I mean, their mascot is a Triceratops, so maybe that could establish a name. "Colorado Carnivores" sounds a lot more intimidating than "Colorado Rockies." And what kid doesn't go through a dinosaur phase?

#1: Seattle Mariners
Why? You want to talk about a team that has an allegorical name? Well, the Mariners' front office is on a sinking ship. The teal is great, but the name isn't, especially considering its association with the only remaining team to never reach a World Series. I put this at number one for the dire situation the franchise is in. I actually like the Mariners uniforms and name, but the threads and name are sadly associated with losing. Sometimes, a new look is all a team needs to break through.

What other teams need a rebranding? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Evolution of the MLB Postseason 2/11/20

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday, Commissioner Manfred announced that the MLB was planning to expand the postseason from ten teams to fourteen teams (from five in each league to seven). Now, I don't feel it's right to judge this until the plan becomes official, but I do feel it's right to discuss the history of the MLB playoff bracket before assessing this potential decision.

From the start of the World Series in 1903 to 1968, the MLB postseason was the World Series. Before expansion in 1961, there were only eight teams in each league, so having the AL and NL pennant winners duke it out for the title just made sense. There were plenty of 100-win teams that didn't make the Fall Classic because they came in second in their respective league, but for the most part, the most deserving teams were in the World Series.

Starting in 1961, the MLB began to grow by a lot. From 1961-1998, Major League Baseball almost doubled, going from sixteen to thirty teams. Over that time, divisions were created and changed, so the playoffs needed some alterations as well. Starting in 1969, each league was split up in two divisions, an East and a West. The winners of each division would compete in a Championship Series against the other division winner in the same league, and the CS winners would go on to the World Series.

The playoffs would stay like this until 1995 (really 1994, but the '94 strike cancelled the '94 postseason), except for 1981, when a mid-season strike shook up the playoffs entirely. Even though each league still used a two-division model in '81, a new Division Series was added to compensate for each completely different half of the season. So, the first-half division champs and the second-half division champs made the postseason in 1981. This proven four-team playoff structure was implemented for good in 1995, when each league expanded to three divisions and a Wild Card was also put into the postseason. In 2012, a second Wild Card and a Wild Card Game were added to the postseason to get us to our number now of ten total teams in the MLB postseason.

The trend seems to be that adding more teams is the biggest catalyst for expanding the postseason. In 1969, four teams were added to the MLB (Brewers, Mariners, Padres, and Royals) and the postseason grew from two to four teams. In 1993, two more teams were added (Rockies and Marlins), and the very next year, the postseason doubled again. So, my advice to Major League Baseball would be to expand the league before expanding the postseason. 32 teams and 14 spots in the postseason makes more sense than 30 teams and 14 spots. So, as long as the MLB adds some teams, I see no problem with expanding the postseason. But again, let's see if this really happens, before we judge this.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."