Monday, May 14, 2012

Commissioner Gainer

I'm talking realignment and relocation...ssssss
There's been a lot of talk about teams, stadiums, relocation, and the like recently.  In Columbus, Ohio this past week, the story broke that the mayor has written a letter to the NBA opening up the possibility of drawing an NBA team to play at Nationwide Arena alongside the Blue Jackets.  Just earlier this week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a tentative deal is in place to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix with a new ownership group.  Meanwhile, up north, it seems Minneapolis is getting their crap together in order to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.  Then there's the constant talk of Los Angeles getting an NFL team again (possibly 2!). In baseball it's no secret the Oakland Athletics don't want to play in that city much longer and in the NBA the Maloof/Sacramento Kings saga is just funny at this point.

There's actually a book written about this
Relocation and expansion are touchy subjects.  We can see from above, it's not done overnight (unless you're the Atlanta Thrashers last year or the Baltimore Colts).  It usually takes some time and of course money is almost always the central issue.  What would Gainer do if he could have one field day with each of the 4 leagues?  The possibilities are endless but below I wanted to show you a combination of realistic ideas and "this-won't-happen-anytime-soon" ideas.  The focus is geography when it comes to divisions but that should be end of the line regarding divisions.  Division titles and seeding means nothing.  You just group them so the traveling is less and the rivalries more intense.  Other than that, just take the top 8 teams or whatever.


Currently there are 32 teams.  Commish Goodell has been on the record saying he would most likely add teams than subtract them.  So it's safe to say the NFL is looking either at staying at 32 or bumping up to 34. If you stay at 32, there is still a chance for relocation.  Los Angeles is just begging for another chance at a football franchise.  There are a couple options here.  The first being the easiest.  Move the Chargers.  This is the most logical because it requires the least amount of effort and a lot of LA people already root for this team.  The next option is moving the financially strapped Jacksonville Jaguars but the owner doesn't want to move and then you got to re-organize divisions.  

Let's be real.  Goodell is all about redefining the NFL during his tenure.  He's going to expand just like he hopes to expand the regular season to 18 games.  We know the 33rd team will be in LA.  But the question then becomes, who gets the 34th?  I could list you all these American cities such as Portland, Las Vegas, OKC, or even San Antonio.  But it's going to be epic and they already play 1 game each season here.  No Buffalo Bills fan, I'm not talking about Toronto.  I'm talking about London.  Yes that London.  The England city.  

Football is unique in the fact that is plays 1 game a week.  This makes it easier on travel.  The NFL is also hellbent on growing this game globally.  It's the weakest international sport of the 4 and the one game a year sells out no matter who is over there.  Is this a stretch? OH YEAH.  The players would not be thrilled but I think it's only a matter of time at this point.  


This is the sport where you are going to see the most change in the near future.  A total realignment was already proposed by the league but it was shot down by the Players' Association.  Their CBA expires in September so it's definitely a hot topic.  Currently there are 30 teams in an Eastern and Western Conference.  Here's what the proposed realignment looked like:

I still think eventually this plan gets approved.  Winnipeg played in the Southeast Division all year and will likely do the same next season and play Washington, Tampa, Carolina, and Florida.  That sucks for them.  The focus of these new conferences is to play the majority of your games within it.  This cuts down on travel and wear/tear players go through in the regular season.  In regards to teams moving, I still think the Islanders move but it may not be very far from their current home in Long Island.  I could see them moving to Kansas City and bumping a team like Columbus over further east.  In fact, let's do that! Just flip flop the NY Islanders and Columbus, BOOM.


Baseball is old school and will continue to do things at a snail's pace because of Bud Selig.  However, he did  expand the playoffs by a team this year.  Then hopefully next year, they will move the Houston Astros to the AL West.  I'm seriously offended it's taken this long to think about it.  The AL has 14 teams, the NL 16.  Texas (Arlington) Rangers are already in the AL West and need a fifth team.  This is an absolute no brainer. In other news, if you saw Moneyball you know the A's don't have any money.  The owner hates it there.  I can see this team moving in the foreseeable future.  Where? Probably somewhere close like San Jose but it's possible a city like Portland or Vancouver get in on that act as well.

There's a lot to be desired in baseball.  The divisions don't make any sense because it's all about tradition.  Whatever. Even worse, one league has an entirely different rule where pitcher's don't have to bat.  It's beyond stupid.  It might be the all-time worst rule in sports history.  But I won't get into everything I hate about baseball.  Here's how I'd do it:

AL Pacific: San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, LA Angels and Dodgers
AL Southwest: Seattle, Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Houston
AL Midwest: Minnesota, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago White Sox and Cubs

NL Southeast: Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami, Washington, and Baltimore
NL Central: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh
NL Northeast: Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, NY Mets and Yankees

From a traveling and rivalry standpoint this makes almost too much sense for baseball to consider it.  There's an all California division.  The Texas teams get paired together (sorry Seattle). The Chicago teams are in the same divisions as well as the Cardinals/Cubs duo.  The Southeast Division is a little weak geographically but still maintains decent rivalries including the Florida teams and the DC area teams.  I love the new NL Central.  Both Ohio teams, Detroit and Pittsburgh!  That just screams awesome.  And finally the Red Sox and Yankees stay together but you throw in the Phillies AND Mets, yay!


Listen, I really thought the NBA lock out was going to last longer than this.  I thought a full year would have been good for the league.  Instead we got a crammed 66 game season in which there several back-to-back-to-back games.  Many nights the best players didn't even dress. It's whatever, it happened so we got to deal with it.  On a positive note, the overall quality of the NBA is improving.  The NBA is historically the worst in overall number of different teams winning championships.  Since 1980, only 9 different franchises have won it all (LA Lakers - 10!; Chicago - 6; Boston - 4; San Antonio/Detroit - 4; Houston - 2 and it probably would have been the Bulls hadn't MJ retired; then Philly, Miami and Dallas all once).  Over 30 years and only 9 champions.  Moving forward I wish the NBA would stick with a 66 game regular season.  Seems perfect for the effort they put forth anyway.  Here's how my new 4 division NBA would look:

West: Portland, Sacramento/Seattle, Golden State, Utah, Denver, Phoenix, LA Clippers and Lakers
Midwest: Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Memphis, Miami, Orlando, and New Orleans
Central: Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minnesota
East: Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Washington, Charlotte, and Atlanta

Similar to the NHL realignment, the focus here would be play within your division.  Then you would have the top 4 in each division play each other until you get 1 winner from each in the playoffs.  Boom, you have a final four.  

Disagree? Comment below nerds...