A modest proposal
As a lifelong baseball fan somewhat dismayed with the currently-available coverage of the sport, I’d like to propose a change to the structure of the major leagues which might make things a bit more bearable, especially as we head into the waning days of the regular season: all it requires is adding a third league. I know this will be controversial, but bear with me.
In any given area of the country, your televised baseball viewing choices are generally limited to:
- The nearest major-league franchise. In my case, the Kansas City Royals. Growing up it was the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.
- National sports networks, which show: the Yankees and whoever they’re playing; the Red Sox and whoever they’re playing; and the Yankees and the Red Sox whenever they play each other.
Over the course of a season, especially a season in which there are lots more interesting things happening (like the AL Central, and the West divisions of both leagues), this tends to become… what’s the word? Oh, yes, monotonous. Also, boring.
So what we need, obviously, is a new league. It would have two teams, the Yankees and the Red Sox. They would play no games against teams in the other two leagues, just 163 games against each other during the regular season and series of playoffs afterwards: three best-of-seven series, best two series out of three wins that year’s league championship.
ESPN could start an entirely new network devoted solely to broadcasting these games, and the general networks could split up the playoff series amongst themselves. The timing could be worked out so that they wouldn’t interfere with the playoffs and the World Series from the other leagues.
There are a bunch:
- Bostonians and New Yorkers would be able to keep their mutual baseball hatred tightly focused.
- Fly-by-night baseball “fans” whose only knowledge of the sport consists in “oh, there are these teams called the Yankees and the Red Sox, and they don’t like each other” wouldn’t have to be confused by seeing unfamiliar franchises.
- Fans who actually care about other teams would be able to actually see those other teams play on TV once in a while.
- When the season is winding down, networks could focus on showing the games that are actually relevant to the pennant races, instead of being chained to the notion of “it’s August/September and there’s a Red Sox-Yankees series this weekend”.
- Corollary to the above: by a cruel trick of scheduling, pretty much every weekend in every August and every September involves a Red Sox-Yankees series. This would merely formalize that arrangement and make it perpetual.
Just one thing missing
In order for it to really take off, the new league would need a really catchy name, one that could be used in a nationwide marketing blitz. Just “National” or “American” wouldn’t work; previous attempts like “Federal” wouldn’t fly either. It would have to be something which captured the essence of the new league and drew upon the storied franchises it would enshrine.
My humble suggestion: The Yankox League.