Iam a Baltimore Orioles fan, have been for almost 30 years. Iam a fan of Major League Baseball, actually, baseball of any kind. However, I’m not in love with either one right now. My Orioles stink, with NO signs of improvement on the horizon (sorry kool-aid drinkers, but for God sake please see reality for what it is). And the MLB stinks, even though I do like watching playoff baseball, not that we O’s fans know what playoff baseball is anymore. But I do have a suggestion that may improve both, although alot of you out there may not understand what I mean when I say it.
You see, my father in law is a HUGE soccer fan. His first love of course, is the English Premier League. His favorite team??? Manchester United. My mother in law is a Manchester native and through the years, he has devoted himself the Red Devils of her fair city. When I married his daughter, I had NO idea what the EPL was, nor did I care. In the years that followed though, his following and devotion to Man U and the EPL rivaled that that I have for my beloved Baltimore Ravens and the NFL, so I began to follow it more closely. And what I learned, gave me the recipe for what could fix our Orioles, here in Baltimore.
You see, the English Premier League is the top soccer, or football, league in England. Much like our MLB. It consists of the country’s top 20 teams, who every season fight it out through 38 games to see who finishes at the top of the standings, or table, as they call it. No divisions, no conferences, just 20 teams to see who comes out on top. The team that finishes with the most points, is league champion. There are other perks for finishing in the top 4, or top 8 in the league, which involve other tournaments, but my focus in this blog is what happens to the teams that finish in the bottom 3 slots in the league. These poor souls, whoever they may be, are told that because they finished in the bottom three, they aren’t allowed to play in the premier league (Major League equivalent) the next season. That’s right, they get demoted, or relegated, to the minors, or sub divisions as it is known. The best three teams in the next lowest division, get promoted to see if they have what it takes to compete in the premier league. And earn the money that the three demoted teams will not. And there in lies the baseball fix it. In a 32 team league, demote the four worst teams to the minors, and promote the four best minor league teams to the MLB. Ask any English soccer player, coach, owner, or fan, and they will tell you, that the economic benefits of staying in the premier league, are so much more substantial then the lower divisions, that it is ALWAYS necessary to at least attempt to keep a quality squad on the field, so you can stay in the top flight. Here is where our Orioles come in…..It’s really simple. Ok, Mr. Angelos. True, you made alot of money this year. What with MASN, and over charging your fans to see minor league quality baseball and everything. But, I hate to tell you that you finished with the third worst record in baseball…and here’s what that means. Your baseball club will be demoted to Triple A next season, and face the Rochesters, Readings, and Columbuses of the world. Good luck retaining quality players like Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones on a Triple A team. Also, good luck drawing 5,000 fans to a Wednesday night matchup against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre whoevers. Maybe next year, you will find it necessary to spend more money to bring in major league quality talent, to actually improve your baseball club, and maybe recoup some of the money you will lose through demotion. And maybe, just maybe, earn promotion back into the majors.
I’m sure the same could be said in Washington, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. Actually give the owners of these teams incentive to improve the quality of play on the field, or they face demotion to the minors. A radical idea that would never fly, I know. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a system in place that would force the owners of these moribund franchises to actually attempt to put a competitive team on the field? The EPL does it better then any league over here, matter of fact, most of the European soccer leagues do the same. But here, especially in the MLB, there is no such thing. The owner of our team makes money no matter how many losses they rack up. And if you think he cares that he has turned our beloved baseball team into a laughingstock, just watch him cash his checks, and I dare you to wipe the smile off his face. But if the MLB ran the same as the EPL, then maybe, just maybe, he would spend a little more money, and give us a better, more competitive product. If only to remain, a Major League Baseball team. Something the Orioles haven’t been in many, many years.