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SD Buhr

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Everything posted by SD Buhr

  1. Pretty sure there's a boatload of scouts that will be surprised to learn that MLB teams kept on virtually 100% of their employees.
  2. I haven't spoken with anyone connected with the Kernels about this, so these comments shouldn't be considered anything more than my opinions, but I can imagine the Kernels have multiple concerns, beyond any possible costs to move up a class. Those, to the extent they exist, would be one-time costs. Of larger concern, I would imagine, are those additional costs that will be recurring. 1. Losing Burlington and Clinton will mean CR loses 2 'commuter series' rivals. Teams were able to bus to these games and home again after each game, meaning no hotel costs. CR will still be close to Quad Cities, but CR will be the westernmost city in a Midwest League that sees its footprint shift slightly eastward. If South Bend and Ft. Wayne shift to the Kernels' Division, the net effect will be higher travel expenses. The effect could be negated somewhat by other restructuring (lengths of series, no cross-division games, etc.), but we haven't heard anything about how the leagues will be structured or scheduled. 2. One of MLB's reasons for all of this is to improve conditions for players. Which is great, but it includes improvements to buses and hotel accommodations on the road... which are typically paid for by the MiLB affiliate. Likewise, improvements in food/diet is laudable, but will it be MLB or the MiLB affiliate picking up those costs? 3. Facility improvements is another issue. CR has a nice facility, but it's about 20 years old now. There will be facility improvements to size and nature of the clubhouse and training areas that will need to be made. No idea how soon or exactly what the nature will be, but they won't be inexpensive. We can also assume that MLB will continue to add to the list of their expectations as the years go on. 4. With Burlington and Clinton gone and Beloit building a new stadium, it's likely we'll see CR at the bottom of the MWL attendance list. They don't exactly make a ton of profit already, so the challenge will be finding ways to generate enough revenue to cover the additional expenses of both an operational and capital nature. All of that said, I'm really glad the Kernels survived the cut and have been invited to remain a Twins affiliate on a long-term basis. I hope the community supports them and they figure out a way to make it work financially.
  3. Whew! We made it! I know I can’t be the only person who wouldn’t have bet much money a couple of months ago on the chances of MLB even having a Postseason in 2020. It looked pretty bleak when the Marlins and Cardinals started things off with a bunch of postponed games. But here we are. The American League starts their first round on Tuesday and the National League gets going on Wednesday. And, yes, the Minnesota Twins will be participating in this rather strange endeavor, having squeaked through with a second consecutive American League Central Division championship. When I initially placed a bet on the Twins to win their Division, back in January, I bet in moderation. After all, back then, we still expected the season to be 162 games long and we all know anything can happen over the course of a marathon-like MLB regular season. But when the season was officially shortened to 60 games, I was feeling very optimistic about the Twins’ chances in the AL Central. So much so that I put a whole bunch more money on them to win the Division. How much? Well, I won’t go into those details, but it was the largest single bet I’ve placed on any event since legalized gambling came to Iowa. Suffice to say, I was not pleased with a week left in the schedule. Thankfully, the White Sox totally tanked and the Twins won just enough down the stretch for me to cash in. But that’s all in the rearview mirror now. It’s time to look at the odds that William Hill and Elite Sportsbook have issued for the 16 teams still playing baseball this week. Once again, I’m surprised how these two organizations diverge on some of these odds. There are some interesting opportunities, for sure, but first let’s check in on the Twins’ odds, where the two sportsbooks are almost in lockstep with one another. Both William Hill and Elite have the Twins at 10-1 odds to win the World Series and they differ very little on their chances to win the American League Pennant. Hill is at +425 and Elite at an even 4-1. At William Hill, you can also put money on the outcome of the Twins’ best-of-three series with the Astros (boooooo). But the Twins are such heavy favorites (that felt as weird to type as it does to read, trust me) at -170 that it hardly seems worth it. Bottom line, putting a little money on the Twins to win it all at 10-1 seems worthwhile. After all, if there’s anything that would feel better than the Twins winning the World Series, it would have to be the Twins winning the World Series AND cashing in a nice fat payday from a sportsbook. But once we’ve got that money down, where else should we turn? Forget the Dodgers. I don’t care how good a team is supposed to be, if the best I can do is get 3-1 at Elite (+275 at WmHill) to win a playoff involving 15 other teams, I’m going to pass. The Rays are getting just 6-1 odds at Elite to win the World Series, but you can get 10-1 on WmHill. So you might ask yourself if you like Tampa’s chances as much as (or even more than?) you do the Twins’. No? So, what about the Yankees? Yes, at WmHill you can get that same 10-1 line on the Yankees to win the Series (Elite offers only 7-1). Elite is also offering 10-1 on the White Sox, but you can get 14-1 if you move over to William Hill. Thinking 10-1 is small potatoes and want a bigger bang for your buck? We can do that. Let’s start by assuming you’re not interested in Miami (40-1 on WmHill, 33-1 on Elite) and probably only marginally more tempted by Milwaukee (40-1 on Elite, 25-1 on WmHill) and Toronto (nay, Buffalo) which sits at 30-1 at both books. Could you be teased into a Cubs bet at 15-1 on William Hill (12-1 on Elite)? Maybe you like the Cubs to win the NL at +750 on WmHill (+550 on Elite)? The Padres have been a trendy favorite and you can get 4-1 at Elite (+350 WmHill) for a San Diego NL Pennant or go crazy and bet them to win the whole shooting match and get 9-1 at Elite (7-1 at WmHill). Here’s one that has piqued my interest, though. Didn’t the Reds look to you like they could be capable of doing some damage? And the Twins didn’t even go up against their best arm! We can get 9-1 at Elite on the Reds to win the National League (+850 at WmHill) and a whopping 22-1 at Elite to win the World Series (17-1 at WmHill). Did anyone who watched that Twins/Reds series really come away from it thinking the Twins are better than twice as likely to win it all than the team that took two out of three from them? Just for comparison, Cleveland and Houston both carry 20-1 odds to win the World Series. And Cincinnati got a pretty good draw in that NL bracket, too. They’d only have to face one or the other of the NL favorites, since they’re in the opposite bracket from the Dodgers and Padres (yes, technically, Atlanta is the number 2 seed, but both bookmakers like San Diego more). I like the Reds in their matchup with Atlanta and then they probably get the Cubs (though I’m not THAT sure the Cubs couldn’t find a way to drop a couple of games to Miami). So, that’s where I’m landing. Obviously, I have to put some money on the Twins to win it all so I REALLY have something to celebrate when Maeda shuts down his former team to claim the top prize. But I’m also going to take a little flyer on the Reds. Clearly could be a combination of “recency bias” and steep odds, but heck, I’ve put money on stuff with less logic behind it. Let’s get this party started! (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.)
  4. Majoring in Minors, Minoring in Majors

  5. I guess. But one got crappy infield defense behind him and one didn't, as well.
  6. I like it when the Twins put up crooked numbers in the first inning.
  7. I'd guess not wanting us to hear everything said by the benches and on the field is actually the main reason they're piping in the sound. Has little to do with ambiance.
  8. I'm thinking a year away, as well. The old Twins/Sox rivalry could get really interesting again starting next season. (Maybe sooner, since anything can happen in a 60 game stretch.)
  9. Max does love to ambush pitchers on that first pitch of a game. Has to be in the scouting report. I'm amazed he gets a first pitch anywhere near the strike zone.
  10. Not gonna lie. 4 months ago, I would have bet there would not be an MLB Opening Day in 2020.
  11. With Opening Day of the 2020 Major League Baseball season now upon us, I thought I would take a quick peek at what, if any, adjustments the sportsbooks I subscribe to have made compared to those I posted in Part 4 of this "Bet On It!" series earlier in July, as teams were making their way back into their abbreviated summer camps. It turns out, however, that my fellow betting subscribers have given the oddsmakers at William Hill and Elite Sportsbook very little reason to make adjustments to their MLB season odds. I was pleased to see that William Hill has again begun taking bets on the Division races and even happier to see that they've adjusted their line for the favored Twins, compared to what they were offering back in March when spring training was suspended. The Twins' line is now at -140, which means you have to bet $140 to win $100 on a Twins Central Division championship. That may not sound great, but William Hill hadn't offered better than -160 since I started checking in January and still held the line at -170 in mid March. I really like the Twins' chances in a 60-game sprint so I went ahead and put a little money on the -140 line... all while cursing myself for only putting $50 on the even money 1-1 line that Elite was offering as recently as the end of January. (Elite has not, that I've noticed, offered Divisional Championship lines since MLB announced they'd be resuming the season.) William Hill's dampened enthusiasm for the Twins is not reflected, however, in their odds on our guys winning the American League Pennant. In fact, those odds at William Hill have dropped from 7-1 when summer camps opened to 6-1 currently. That matches Elite's current line. Neither book has changed their outlook on the Twins winning it all. The Twins remain at 16-1 and 15-1 at William Hill and Elite, respectively. As for the odds for all of the other favorites we've been following in this series, both books have remained unchanged on their odds for teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros. If you're one of those poor sick souls who follow the Cubs closely, though, there's been a little movement in the past few weeks. William Hill has moved their odds on the Cubs winning the National League Pennant from 10-1 to 12-1 currently. Elite is unconvinced, however, leaving their line at 8-1. So if you've been looking for an opportunity to throw your money away on the Cubbies, now might be the time to do it. I haven't noticed 12-1 being offered since the end of January. Interestingly, the opposite is happening if you're looking to bet on the Cubs to win the World Series. Elite has moved from 18-1 down to 15-1 on a Cubs championship. Not that it really should matter, given that you'll want to be taking William Hill up on their unchanged 20-1 line, anyway, should you be in the market for this bet. Finally, William Hill has added one additional interesting option - betting on which player will lead MLB in Runs + Home Runs. (At least that's what I think "MOST RS HR'S" means, I'm still kinda new at some of this. If that's not correct, oh well.) Mike Trout is the odds-on favorite at 12-1 odds, but I couldn't resist putting $10 on the "Bringer Of Rain." If Josh Donaldson comes through for me (and, of course, the Twins) over the next couple of months, I'll make a cool $800 on that bet. Make it rain, baby! This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.
  12. When I posted Part 3 of this "Bet On It!" series back on March 8, it's unlikely any of us could have foreseen that four months later we still wouldn't have seen Major League Baseball's Opening Day. Within just a couple of weeks from the time that article was posted, pretty much all MLB bets had been taken off the board at the sportsbooks. Now, as we try to celebrate our nation's birthday, the two books that I'm a member of have begun to post some MLB baseball action, though neither William Hill nor Elite Sportsbook have a full range of options available yet. (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com) There are enough, however, that it's worth taking a fresh look at how the bookies are feeling about which teams are most likely to emerge with trophy hardware this season and, in particular, how they're feeling about the Minnesota Twins. To review, William Hill had the Twins at 12-1 odds to win the American League pennant and 22-1 to win the World Series before the club signed Josh Donaldson. After adding the slugger, betters at both William Hill and Elite have pushed those odds southward, to the point where, in early March, William Hill had the Twins at 7-1 to win the AL and 14-1 to win the Series. Elite was a little less enthusiastic about the Twins' chances, setting their odds at 8-1 (AL) and 20-1 (WS) in March. While William Hill has maintained their 7-1 line for the Twins to win the AL, their odds on winning the Series bounced back up to the 16-1 level they were at in mid-February. Elite, meanwhile, is liking the Twins more than they did in March, rather than less. They now offer just 6-1 odds on a Twins pennant and 15-1 odds on a WS trophy. Only William Hill has re-opened betting on team wins, setting the over/under at 35 wins for the Twins. Given the uncertainty of just how many of the scheduled 60 games will actually get played, I think I'll leave that number alone. Interestingly, though, William Hill puts the line at 33.5 wins for Cleveland and maybe even more interestingly, 32.5 wins for the White Sox. That seems high for Chicago, but I suppose it reflects an optimism based on them getting to play a significant percentage of their games against Detroit and Kansas City (not to mention the Pirates). Still, I'm going to have to consider putting some money on the under there. Here's something I'm still trying to figure out, though. The futures bets I placed during the offseason at Elite are still active, while those I booked at William Hill no longer show up in my account. On Elite, I booked the Twins to win the AL Central back when I could still get even 1-1 odds and took a flyer on the Angels to win it all at 35-1 odds. But I also booked the Twins to win the AL at 11-1 and to win the Series at 22-1 on William Hill and those bets are nowhere to be found. I've started combing through communications from William Hill concerning how they were going to treat MLB bets and all I've seen is that they would void bets on cancelled events (and I can appreciate them cancelling bets on team wins), but other futures bets would remain alive as long as a winner is eventually determined. So, yeah, I'd love to still have those 11-1/22-1 bets in play. Neither of my sportsbooks appear to be offering bets on MLB Division winners at this point and the only prop bet I found featuring individual players was at Elite, where we can put some money on who we think will be the MLB home run king. Mike Trout and Pete Alonso are listed at 8-1, while Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger are at 10-1. We can also get 10- on "the field" and that seems to be a choice worth considering, to me. Miguel Sano, at 20-1, is the sole Twins slugger among the 25 players listed. Think I'll pass on that, thanks. Revisiting a few of the other contenders, it doesn't look like either William Hill or Elite have significantly changed their views on the MLB big dogs. The Dodgers have overtaken the Yankees (barely) as the odds-on favorite to be the World Series Champion. The Dodgers are at +325 and the Yankees at +350 on William Hill. Both teams sit at 7-2 on Elite. The Astros have tumbled a bit, though, on both sites. The two books have always viewed Houston's chances very differently. In March, Wm Hill had them at 9-1, while Elite was more optimistic at 5-1. Now, William Hill has them posted at 12-1 and Elite at 6-1. I have to admit, if it didn't mean having to potentially find myself rooting for the Astros, that 12-1 offering would be tough to pass up. There's a lot of talk about how the 60-game season could open the door for mediocre teams to get hot, qualify for the postseason and then potentially knock off one or two better teams to make a run toward the World Series. So, maybe we should look for decent value bets along those lines. I like my bet on the Angels at 35-1 to win it all (if Trout decides to play, anyway), but are there other options, too? As much as I'd love to see it happen, it's hard for me to imagine anyone in the AL East finishing above the Yankees. The Red Sox are still sitting at a relatively inviting 17-1 to win the AL pennant, but they'd not only have to get hot enough to finish ahead of New York, but also top a pretty strong Tampa Bay team. I could see the Angels or Athletics topping the Astros in the AL West, but I already have money on Los Angeles. Elite is offering 12-1 on Oakland winning the pennant, though, so that's at least worth considering. Forget the AL Central. The White Sox are at 12-1 on both sites, but I just don't see them topping both Cleveland and Minnesota and then ALSO staying hot enough to nail down a pennant. They're at least a year from putting that kind of run together. In the National League, the Braves and Nationals will be tough, of course, but 10-1 on the Mets to win the NL pennant is worth thinking about, anyway. If you're feeling adventurous, William Hill is giving you 15-1 on the Phillies, but that probably has something to do with having to fight through a gauntlet in that division (and their cross-league competition in the AL East), just to get to the postseason. Like the Yankees in the AL East, the Dodgers in the NL West make it almost pointless to consider one of their Divisional rivals, but if you could hit on the Padres (20-1) or D'Backs (25-1) winning the NL pennant, the payoff would be healthy. That leaves the NL Central and there's perhaps at least one interesting option there. I don't see an obvious dominant team (the two books can't even agree on whether the Cubs or Cardinals are more likely to win the NL), so it wouldn't be beyond reason to imagine the Reds or Brewers riding a hot streak or two. Both teams are listed at 15-1 on Elite and either might be an option at that number. But over at William Hill, things get more interesting. They only give you 10-1 on the Reds, but they offer 20-1 on Milwaukee. That's tempting. That's enough for today, I guess. I don't know whether we'll actually see MLB play games this summer and, honestly, I'm still not 100% convinced they should be playing. But that won't keep me from keeping an eye on the betting lines.
  13. It may be because I’ve spent years enjoying Class A Midwest League baseball, which routinely splits its season into two halves with every team’s record resetting to 0-0 by mid-to-late June, but I find myself embracing the plans for big leaguers to sprint through a 60-game Major League season in 2020. I am not only embracing it, I’m excited about it! (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com) In fact, the only thing tempering my enthusiasm is the concern we all (I would hope) have about potential COVID-related health issues for players, coaches and other people necessary to field teams and put on the games. I’m an unapologetic, mask-wearing believer in just how serious this pandemic is, and I’m concerned that we’re all moving way too fast to re-open everything. I wasn’t in charge of deciding to try to have some kind of MLB season and if I had been, I’m not sure we all wouldn’t be throwing in the towel on 2020 and crossing our fingers while we hope to have some sort of normal 2021. But since the owners and players mutually decided to give this a shot, I’m trying to focus on what “is,” rather than what I personally think “should be.” And what “is” is a season unlike anything any of us has ever seen Major League Baseball do. The old cliché is that baseball (at least at the Major League level) is a marathon, not a sprint. But when you slice 102 games off the normal 162-game schedule, that cliché goes into the scrapheap. Make no mistake, the 2020 MLB regular season will at least seem like a sprint to many of the people involved. A lot of people, including some fans and writers I respect, maintain that a 60-game season is a farce – that mediocre teams (or worse) will find a way to slip into the postseason at the expense of good teams who simply have the misfortune of suffering too many losing streaks caused by injuries, illnesses and bad hops. And those people are right. While it’s not like mediocre teams have never unexpectedly found themselves in the postseason or even winning a World Series (anyone remember the 1987 Twins?), the likelihood of pretenders crashing the postseason party at the expense of contenders this year is admitedly greater. But I have an answer for that. I simply do not care. I’ve watched the Cedar Rapids Kernels play what is essentially a pair of 70-game seasons every summer for years. And guess what… yes, getting hot or turning cold at some point makes a ton of difference, but I’ve never heard a single fan complain about it. The minor leagues that play split seasons do so for a couple of reasons. First, rosters (particularly at the lower MiLB levels) see significant turnover as parent clubs move players up and down (and out of) the organizational ladder throughout the season, so the rosters teams finish the season with seldom closely resemble the Opening Day rosters. But just as important (at least to the MiLB affiliate front offices trying to at least break even financially), it makes it more likely that every team in the league will at least be in contention for a postseason spot during much (if not most) of July and August, perhaps the two most important months in MiLB baseball in terms of retaining fan engagement. So, in this bizarre summer, Major League Baseball is going to take a page out of the MiLB playbook and, as a result, fans in Kansas City and Detroit will be tuning in to watch their teams play ball in August in greater numbers than would have been likely in a normal season. I fail to understand why that’s a bad thing. Is it because it’s possible the Yankees or Dodgers might have a bad stretch and not make the postseason? Cry me a river. I realize that the team I’m a fan of, the Minnesota Twins, are now one of those teams that were built to compete over 162 games. They arguably have more depth than almost any other team in the American League and that advantage could be negated by the shortened regular season (though that pesky pandemic thing could certainly still make depth a critical factor). If the Twins have one too many rough stretches and find themselves on the outside of the postseason looking in, so be it. They’re still almost certainly going to be playing meaningful baseball right to the wire, so I’ll be watching (and if you care enough about baseball that you’re reading this, I’d bet you will be watching, too). Could MLB have played 100 games if owners and players had been able to come to an agreement sooner? Maybe. But even if they had, would that have made the season any more legitimate than what we’re dealing with now? There simply was no way that MLB was going to play anything close to a normal number of regular season games in 2020, so I’m not sure why anyone is even still complaining about the legitimacy issue. That issue is moot, so let’s move on. The beat writers covering the American League Central Division teams for The Athletic posted a piece where they discussed each AL Central team’s outlook going into a 60-game season and those writers each made a compelling case for why fans in each of the five markets should have genuine interest in what transpires over the shortened season. Even as a Twins fan, it got me excited about following the fortunes of the other four Divisional rivals, as well. (I admit, this may have been influenced some by Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen answering the question “Is there a player on your team who could rise to prominence during this shortened season?” by suggesting we “keep an eye on” Niko Goodrum, one of my personal favorite Kernels alums.) I’m not even worked up about the plans to use the minor league rule that places a runner on second base to start each extra inning. I didn’t like it when it was adopted for MiLB games, but I understood it was intended to reduce the chances that valuable young pitching arms would be over-worked in extended extra-inning games. But that’s only part of why MLB is using it in 2020. Sure, it will reduce some wear and tear on relief pitching in a season where each team’s pool of potential roster replacements could be limited due to the minor league seasons being cancelled entirely. More importantly though, it could help reduce the chances of players, coaches and other personnel contracting the COVID virus by keeping game times for extra-inning games to a minimum. It’s hard for me to object to that and it’s preferable to simply allowing games to end in a tie after nine innings. If you are upset that a 60-game season just won’t be what a 162-game season would have been, you’re right. It won’t be. But as a fan who typically watches a local minor league team essentially play two short seasons every summer, I can assure you that if you embrace it, a 60-game season has the potential to cram a lot of excitement into a couple of months of baseball. And, by the way, if you want to do your part to make sure the players and coaches stay healthy, maybe consider wearing a mask whenever you’re out and about. If we all do that, we can be more certain that the people we come into contact with who then come into contact with someone who comes into contact with a player or coach won’t pass something onto that guy that would keep him from getting through this season safe, healthy and productive. We’ve never seen a MLB season like what’s happening in 2020 and, God willing, we will never see another one like it. I’m praying that all involved get through this season healthy and if prayer is your thing, too, please join me. If not, then… I dunno… cross your fingers and toes or something and just hope for the best. A 60-game season is certainly not ideal. But it’s what we have. And it is has the potential to be very exciting. I’m embracing that and I hope you’ll eventually join me. It could be one heck of a ride.
  14. Yeah, I'm also one who suspects we haven't seen the last of Balazovic, in terms of the 60 man list. Hard for me to imagine they won't want to be getting hands-on development time with him, even if he never sets foot on a mound during a game in 2020.
  15. "Most, if not all, of the extra 20 guys selected will not see the field. Hopefully. So it's about coaching and development." While I really hope this is the case, I'm not so sure it will be. I think you have to be prepared to lose several players to illness for 2-3 weeks at a time (overlapping periods, in most cases), especially if this "second wave" increases in intensity. So, I'd make sure my 60-man pool is mostly composed of players I would be willing to put on a Major League field in games that count.
  16. Fifty games? In a Major League Baseball season? It's some kind of joke, right? We wish it was, but in 2020, the year a pandemic threatened to scratch entire professional and college sports seasons, it's starting to feel like baseball fans will be lucky to get even a 50-game season. I know. "Lucky" isn't how I really feel, either. But when you consider that we're almost certainly going to see zero minor league games in 2020, a 50-game MLB regular season, followed by an expanded post-season, is starting to look not so bad. But how would you possibly put together a 50-game schedule that would result in anything resembling legitimate results? Well, first of all, you need to immediately expand your usual standards for "legitimacy." Let's face it, from the moment MLB sent players home from their spring training sites to wait out the pandemic crisis, there was never going to be a MLB season with even a trace of legitimacy to it. Individual and team records will mean nothing within any historical context. This was never going to be anything but a glorified exhibition season, so let's just not get wrapped up in what can or can't be considered "legitimate." Yes, it could have been MORE legitimate if MLB owners had been willing to play 100+ games. as the MLB Players Association proposed. But that would have meant the teams' owners would lose a few more dollars and we know that nobody parts with a nickel more reluctantly than MLB owners (unless it's to pay off lobbyists and politicians to get favorable treatment from Congress, but that's a totally different issue). It looks like it will be something like a 50-game schedule or nothing at all. "Nothing at all" would be a black eye for both MLB and the players' union, so let's assume they'll eventually agree to the short season. Admittedly, the two sides probably deserve that black eye, given that neither of them has shown any regard for baseball fans throughout this process. But there's a whole new round of negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on the horizon in the next year, so there will be plenty of time and opportunities for both parties to demonstrate just how much of a (dang) they don't give about fans then. Back to the topic du jour. How could they make a 50-game schedule work? First, throw out the American and National League labels fans have gotten accustomed to. We're going to have a bunch of divisions based strictly on geography. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, from a safety standpoint, it limits travel for teams. Let's not forget that the COVID situation is not yet resolved. You minimize travel and you minimize the circle of contacts the uniformed members of each team have with different opponents. Then you only play teams in your division. Period. Not only does this minimize contact with other groups of players until the playoffs begin, but it at least offers some level of legitimacy to the results on the field. If you play 50 games against 15 or 20 different teams, you don't face any of those teams often enough to determine relative strength. But if you play all 50 games against just a few rivals, you stand a much better chance of at least crowning legitimate Division Champions. How many teams in a division? Well, it obviously has to be an even number or you'd always have one team taking several consecutive days off. So we're talking about five 6-team divisions, which allows teams to play ten games against each of their five divisional rivals. That may not be as many games as they would typically play against division rivals in a 162-game season, but it's a lot more than, say, major college teams play against one another, and conferences still seem to think that's enough to declare conference champions. So, you play 50 games and then start the postseason. But what would the postseason look like? Well, if the owners had their way, they'd probably forgo the regular season entirely and just throw together a 30-team tournament. The prorated salary agreement from March only applies to regular-season games. No regular-season means no prorated player salaries. Problem solved! But those greedy ballplayers won't stand for that, will they? They're going to want to get paid. Reports are that both sides would agree to an expanded playoff structure this year, so let's say it's 16 teams, which seems to be the most prevalent number you hear being tossed around. How do you get 16 teams from five divisions, especially when there have been absolutely no cross-divisional games? It's not so hard, really. Obviously, the five Division Champions go in. You'd probably even say the five Division runner-ups should all go into the postseason. So there are ten of the 16 teams. I suppose you could say the six remaining teams with the best regular-season records should get the remaining spots, but how do you know a third place team in Division A, with a record a couple games above .500 is really better than the third place team in Division B, with a record a couple of games under .500, when you have no cross-divisional head-to-head games to base that opinion on? So, I say we just add the five 3rd place finishers into the mix, giving us 15 teams. But who gets that final 16th spot? Since I'm one of those people who actually LIKES the current system that forces two teams in each league to play a one-game, win-or-go-home wild card game every year, I'm going to suggest expanding the postseason field to 17 (or, potentially, more) teams. Of the remaining 15 teams, the two with the best record play a one-game play-in game. If there are ties for those spots, you play additional one-game play-in games to get to the play-in game. Just the way you can potentially have multiple "game 163" scenarios in a normal season. Let's start the postseason with some immediate drama! Once we have 16 teams, we have the issue of seeding. Seemingly, the simplest thing to do is seed the teams 1-16 based on regular-season record. (1-15, really. The wild card play-in game winner would be the automatic 16th seed). Seeding of teams with identical records could be determined by: 1) assuring they don't play a team from their own division in the first round (no guarantees that might not happen in round 2, however), and 2) coin flip/draw straws/rock-paper-scissors/whatever. Not fair? So what. It's one freaking season that barely counts as a season anyway. Get over it. So let's plug teams into these divisions and see how this might play out. One Good Earthquake and We're in the Ocean Division: Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, San Diego Deserts, Mountains and Other Wastelands Division: Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City We Think We're So Good We Don't Know Why They Let Anyone Else Play Division: NY Yankees, NY Mets, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto Damn It's Cold Here Division: Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chi White Sox, Chi Cubs, Detroit, Cleveland We Didn't Fit Anywhere Else Division: Cincinnati, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami Could you make an argument for slightly different alignments? Absolutely. Do I want to hear your arguments? Not really. Playing only 50 games, at six games per week, you only need a little over eight weeks to play your season. Kick things off Friday, July 10 and you can be finished with your regular season over Labor Day Weekend (just like the minor leagues do in any normal season). With five divisions and only 50 games being played, you know you're going to have several very interesting series over the holiday. Then play your play-in game on Labor Day, itself. TV ratings, anyone? So, 50 games later, we have standings that look like this: Earthquake Division: 1-Dodgers 2-Oakland 3-Angels 4-San Diego 5-Seattle 6-San Francisco (Don't like these picks? I don't care) Wastelands Division: 1-Houston 2-Arizona 3-St. Louis 4-Texas 5-Colorado 6-Kansas City (I still don't think Houston should even be allowed in the postseason, but that ship sailed) Arrogant A-holes Division: 1-Philadelphia 2-Boston 3-Pittsburgh 5-Toronto 6-Mets (NYY in 4th?! Yeah. Screw the Yankees) Ice Division: 1-Minnesota 2-Cleveland 3-Milwaukee 4-Cubs 5-White Sox 6-Detroit (Cubs in 4th? Yeah. See "Yankees" above. Same deal) Leftovers Division: 1-Washington 2-Atlanta 3-Tampa Bay 4-Cincinnati 5-Baltimore 6-Miami (hey look, we found a way the Orioles might not finish in last place!) We're going to say the Yankees and Cubs get the play-in game because, come on, who WOULDN'T want to hear the media and those two fan bases bitch forever about how they got screwed by having to play one game to get into the postseason? We'll say the Cubs win. I'll admit this is possibly influenced by me not wanting there to be any chance the Twins have to face the Yankees in the postseason. For the sake of brevity, we're just going to assume the 16 teams get seeded using a zig-zag process. Frankly, for this situation, it would probably make more sense than trying to analyze completely unrelated schedules to determine legitimate seeds, anyway. So we end up with 1-Dodgers 2-Houston 3-Philadelphia 4-Minnesota 5-Washington 6-Atlanta 7-Cleveland 8-Boston 9-Arizona 10-Oakland 11-Angels 12-St. Louis 13-Pittsburgh 14-Milwaukee 15-Tampa Bay 16-Cubs Feel better about seeing it in a (very informal) bracket? I'd love to show it to you, but I apparently can no longer upload my own pictures to go with my articles. So, you can either plug those seedings into one of the regions of that March Madness bracket you didn't get to use this spring or you can click this link to take you over to Knuckleballsblog.com where my informal bracket does show up. With all of the teams set after Labor Day, we can kick off the postseason on, let's say, Wednesday, September 9. Let's allow 13 calendar days for each of the first couple of rounds, simply because you know the networks aren't going to want several games being played at once. First round: September 9-22. Elite 8: September 24-October 7. For the semi-finals and World Series, we can use the same schedule MLB uses for League Championships and World Series any other year. Start the semi-finals on a Friday and the World Series on a Tuesday (because that's how the networks want it, dammit). That gives us the semi-final series from October 9-18. Which sets up the World Series beginning Tuesday, October 20-28. We are all finished before November 1. Easy-peasy. Now, explain to me why you wouldn't watch these games. I know I would.
  17. There were just SO many incredible plays made by both teams in these last few innings.
  18. Watching the replay, Raburn looks like he probably should have caught that HR ball by Cabrera. It was barely over the top of the wall, but Raburn was a step too far to the right. If he reads the path right, his glove would be up there fighting for the ball with the fans. Wouldn't THAT have been an interesting potential fan-interference call?
  19. Little Nicky Punto comes through to lead off B7. Hell of an AB.
  20. Rauch throwing 90-91. A 6-11 guy throwing at that velo today would have people wondering if his elbow is healthy.
  21. Goes back to that depth thing you were talking about
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