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The View from Left Field
By Donald Dewey
Even if you're already cringing before the threat of the next expansion and realignment in a couple of years, it's going to be worse than you think. According to sources close to Decommissioner Bud Selig, the necessary votes (those of Rupert Murdoch and Michael Eisner) are already in place for what is being called the biggest organizational transformation of the national pastime since the founding of the American League. The key to the changes, the sources said, is adding and realigning franchises on the basis of history rather than geography in the avowed interests of "honoring the sport's greatest figures." With the traditional National and American Leagues eliminated, the new groupings would reportedly be broken down as:
The Landis Division. Named in honor of Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, this would include the sixteen franchises that operated under the judge's rule from 1920 to 1944. Its principal appeals would be in the restoration of a big league club to Brooklyn and the awarding of second franchises to Boston, St. Louis, and Philadelphia. Somewhat controversially, however, teams within the Landis Division would not be permitted to employ black players or Latinos from anywhere outside Cuban refugee camps.
The Frick Division. Named after Ford Frick, the commissioner from 1951 to 1965, this would gather Milwaukee, Kansas City, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, a fourth team in New York, and any other club that descendants of the O'Malley family deem it appropriate to create. The Frick would be the most financially solid of the proposed divisions, in good part because of charter deals struck with the United and American Airlines companies in exchange for scoring all flyballs as hits. On the other hand, division rules would require an asterisk being placed next to any statistic offensive to Babe Ruth.
The Robinson Division. As an enduring acknowledgment of Jackie Robinson's 1947 debut with the Dodgers, this division would encompass lip-service franchises in Seattle, Kansas City, Washington, and Milwaukee, as well as teams in Birmingham, Newark, and other cities that have produced Negro league caps to be given away on promotion days. Star players from each club will have their numbers retired a day after their franchise pulls up stakes to move to another city.
The Miller Division. Named after the former Players Association chief Marvin Miller, this division would take in Montreal, Toronto, and other foreign places where players apparently picked up the subversive notion that Major League Baseball should not reward only the team owners. All clubs in this division would be nicknamed the Reds, the most popular personal nickname would be Pinky, and all uniform britches would be too small for the players.
The Huizenga Division. Already informally referred to in baseball corridors as the Blockbuster Division, the grouping would number franchises in Miami, Denver, Phoenix, and other urban centers that can guarantee violent weather extremes of rain, snow, or sun, sellouts of entire home schedules, and owners committed to unloading their clubs as soon as they have amassed enough exorbitant expenses to earn tax losses on their other interests. Because of the peculiar climatic conditions prevailing in the cities of this division, asterisks would be placed next to any offensive statistic insulting to Mario Mendoza.
The Selig Division. This would incorporate new franchises from Oz, Shangri-La, Eden, and other dreamlands where players would be expected to uphold the dignity of the game while competing with advertising signboards draped over their uniforms. All of these games would be televised for guests at the top of the Twin Towers, the Sears Tower, the Coit Tower, and other elevated venues for a handling charge of three hundred dollars a contest.
As envisioned by the sponsors of the realignment, the top three teams of the six divisions would play a round-robin series of eliminations between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving (the period chosen to underline the American nature of baseball). Instead of the traditionally named World Series, the two squads with the best playoff records would then meet at a neutral site between Milwaukee and Chicago for a winner-take-all game and right to the Riensdorf Cup.
There was no immediate word on the fate of the designated hitter or fans.
DONALD DEWEY has written several books on baseball including The Biographical
History of Baseball.
© 2000 Donald Dewey
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