Letter to the Editor – Promotion and Relegation in Baseball
To whomever wrote that excellent article on promotion/relegation:
I just wanted to say that I am impressed with the site and particularly with the article on promotion/relegation. I also wish MLB had the good sense to make it more exciting by adopting such a system. I hope that you continue to publish the hypothetical situation charts next season, including the run difference information. On that note, in your "BPL" for 2011, isn’t it true that the St. Louis Cardinals would never have even made the playoffs? They were tied with Boston, but had the inferior run difference (+70 vs. +138). Therefore, I don’t think they deserve the green highlight! Though, of course I congratulate them on their eventual championship.
I’d like to ask you something, which is, how do you think a P/R relegation would come about? I mean, what sequence of events would lead to the change? I have a feeling that it would be met with a lot of resistance on the grounds of maintaining tradition, a point which you alluded to in the article. On the other hand, you and I were converted. I have a guess as to how it might happen, and I would love to know what you think.
1. The people who support a P/R system in general are anyone who follows the soccer/football in any country but this one.
2. A large chunk of the people who follow MLS also follow the sport abroad and would love to see a P/R system here. In fact, the biggest reason MLS hasn’t adopted the system yet nor plans to "anytime soon" is because the league isn’t financially well-grounded.
How it could happen (in roughly 8 steps):
1. MLS continues to grow, especially as more players transfer between the US and Europe, and coverage of the EPL (and other major events such as the Euro and World Cups) continues to improve.
2. Eventually MLS becomes large enough that it can afford to expand and allow for P/R.
3. At the same time, the soccer/football continues to grow in popularity, and more and more clubs are formed across the country and Canada.
4. MLS makes the switch to P/R because so many (foreign league following) fans demand it.
5. MLS sees huge gains in viewership toward the end of the first season of the new system as fans and journalists can’t get over the excitement of speculating who will fall, and which new teams will find their way to the top.
6. The sport sweeps the country. A new league pops us in each state. MLS becomes more like the Champions League. The US is destroying the rest of the world in every major competition.
7. The other sports in the US take a big hit. Compared to soccer/football, they all seem painfully boring and insignificant as being the champion or the worst team mean next to nothing.
8. Baseball fan demographics continue to trend toward older people. MLB viewership starts dwindling
faster, so they do a study and realize that the fans would be thrilled to have a P/R system. They try it, and it obviously works well. Eventually, the other sports do the same.
I realize my rhetoric is a little over the top, but ultimately I think that it will be MLS that introduces the system to the US first, with baseball catching on perhaps a decade after that. Anyway, keep up the good work!
All the best,