Section30

What if the MLB had promotion and relegation?

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This is something that I have wondered for a long time. The MLB is really the only league in America that could realistically make the switch to a promotion/relegation style similar to that of European leagues. With no limit to how much a team can spend, and a lengthy history and following for teams all across the country, do you think it would be possible to make Professional baseball a tiered system? Would it cause more of a gap between teams who spend more? Would it help grow the game and "Make Baseball Fun Again" by having the risk of being relegated or the chance for new teams to be promoted? Let me know what you think!

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1 minute ago, Section30 said:

What if the MLB had promotion and relegation?

 

The entire farm system structure to baseball that has existed since at least the '40s would completely disintegrate.

 

Promotion and relegation applied to North American sports leagues that have existed for over 100 years isn't entirely unlike debating if the NHL should switch to international ice-sized rinks (which they absolutely should, in a perfect world). Sure, the idea seems nifty until you consider, I dunno, the utter impossibility of retrofitting 30 31 NHL rinks to accomodate the larger ice surfaces and realize that it can't be done unless you grandfather 31 teams into this and take 50 years to do as teams eventually ditch one building and move to another, many of them off the backs of the taxpayers.

 

That was a tangent. Consider the state of minor league baseball stadiums and the towns they play in. Unlike virtually every country in Europe, the United States is really fricken' large. Massive landmass with pockets of swollen popuation, not quite like the more densely populated countries you find in Europe (Germany has a pop. of ~80M with a land mass the size of Montana; we're inefficient in that regard in the U.S. by and large but if it protects more necessary farmlands, wildlife preserves, and generally pro-nature methods, I'm all for it). Furthermore, every large city in Europe has multiple club teams in those cities, many of them with healthy supporter populations. London has at least 13 professional soccer clubs if I'm not mistaken. We don't have that in any sport in this country. Only the largest cities in the country, NY, Chicago, and LA, have any sports with multiple professional teams. In the EPL, if a team from London goes down, there's still plenty others to go around, for marketing and television purposes. If a team from any of those cities were ever sent down (hello, 2018 White Sox), it would be a nightmare for the sport. 

 

I appreciate the idea of fantasies and such but this can't possibly be done with such an entrenched structure already in place.

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Doesn’t help that quite a few farm teams are in fact owned by the parent club.  I highly doubt that the Dodgers would want both LA and OKC in the top flight.

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Under the current system? Nearly impossible. First, remember, that the minors have their players paid for by their parent clubs. So, if one were to be 'promoted', they'd suddenly have to pay large sums of money to compete. Secondly, they'd have to raise ticket prices astronomically, and other than maybe Buffalo, Salt Lake City, and a few others are anywhere close to large enough to even compete against the number of fans through a turnstyle every night. And that's with tickets that are mostly less than $15, while usually the absolute cheapest MLB ticket you can find is about $15.

 

The worst thing about promotion and relegation, and what fans seem to forget, is that you wind up with a few teams that are constantly near or at the top of the top flight. Everybody loves to talk about pro/rel and how exciting it is, but to me it's only trumped up to be exciting because the top flight championship is usually so mind-numbingly boring. Who won this year in the EPL? Did it really even matter? Chelsea, Man City, ManU, Arsenal, Liverpool, etc. That's about it. Sure, throw out Liecester City if you want, but that was a freak occurrence where every team at the top was 'down' and somehow LCFC performed a miracle.

 

But, if you're a fan of Southampton, your only real intrigue is that you're not winning the title and hope to god you don't fall into the relegation zone.

 

Would you be a fan of the Kansas City Royals if in a winner-take-all, no-salary-cap setup where the largest following with the most money wins more often than not, and you're just hoping not to wind up in AAA with Omaha and Oklahoma City.

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No, simply because the idea that the Montgomery Biscuits could win a World Series upsets me even more than the idea that a first-year Vegas team could win the Stanley Cup.  

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The only way that could happen is if we had a multi-tiered MLB.  And I don't see too many fans or the players association going for that.

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In the era of billion-dollar taxpayer- funded stadiums?  Never.  The Twins bilking of  the taxpayers was bad enough but to be playing A-ball for most of it’s 20-year life would be awful PR and a great way to end public stadium funding. As good as those last four words are, I guess I am in the minority in that I don’t like the idea for any sport (OK, maybe not the minority...I just notice with the popularity of European soccer, that more and more fans bring this up).  I would hate this for any sport. I definitely prefer leagues set up for consistency.

 

The other thing is that I think our leagues (particularly MLB, but all of them) are more history/stat-driven than euro soccer.  It would legitimately give us fits to try to rate, say, Tony Gwynn who probably played most of his career in double-AA vs. someone else who spent most of his career in the majors.

 

And I don't know much about euro soccer...is free agency a big thing there like it is here?  Here, there is so much player movement that teams relegated to the lower-levels would probably never come back, particularity those in lower-profile markets.  The MLB would probably end up having about 10 teams that matter.  The NBA would be worse than now (if that's possible).  Given the roster size and number of contributors in the NHL and NFL, those leagues may not be so bad, but it would still be tough for a team in, say, Edmonton, to make a free agent signing if they are in their third straight year in a lower division.

 

I just hate this whole concept, but I don't see it as likely to ever take hold in the "Big 4."

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Would minor league teams that shared their parent club names (Iowa Cubs, for example) have to change their names, or only when they get promoted to the same level (Iowa Cubs and Chicago Cubs), or just live with it?

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the only way i see them having promotion and relegation (in the Big 4 Leagues) is if they started out with that model.  

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You guys bring up a good point about minor league clubs being owned by parent clubs, I don't think it would work for a lot of reasons. I do agree with @goalieboy82 that the only way this could work would be to start from scratch. I don't know I thought it could be an interesting idea if say minor league clubs weren't connected to parent clubs and it allowed teams to rise and fall, I think it could lead to small markets that are rarely if ever seen to get to high levels which would be cool IMO but would be a nightmare for the MLB as they would lose millions in ticket sales.

Overall I think it would be an interesting idea but there are too many problems with it, and it would be nearly impossible to change the current system to make it work.

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It's a nice idea, but it's completely impractical - you'd wind up bankrupting the teams that are relegated by putting them in a league people care less about, and the teams that are promoted because there just aren't enough minor league cities that could support a major league level team.

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19 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

It's a nice idea, but it's completely impractical - you'd wind up bankrupting the teams that are relegated by putting them in a league people care less about, and the teams that are promoted because there just aren't enough minor league cities that could support a major league level team.

 

I wouldn't even say that it's a nice idea, for the reason you mention at the end of your sentence.  Spots in the top league should go to the biggest cities, and spots in lower leagues should go to progressively smaller cities.

 

Anyway, as @Kramerica Industries mentioned in the thread's first response, the farm system rules out promotion/relegation.  To even consider such a system, you'd have to have minor league teams be independent, employing their own players.  We haven't had that for a very long time.

(Side note to @LMU: it doesn't much matter whether a Major League team owns minor league teams or whether it has affiliation agreements with minor league teams that are owned by other parties.  The only thing that matters is that the Major League team employs all the players in its organisation.)

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Let me throw this out there: the promotion/relegation system...sucks

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I am not a fan of promotion and relegation at all, largely for the reasons that others have mentioned - it creates extraordinarily top-heavy leagues, and doesn't guarantee that the biggest citites/markets will be well-served by the sport. Also leads to subpar stadium infrastructure, since you don't have a closed group of x number of teams that can build major league-level stadiums.

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All that is true and what it really does is create a churn of quadruple-A franchises: the teams that are promoted don't really do anything in the top flight but collect their revenue, drop back down, beat up on the next league down with the money they made the year before, move back up, repeat. So you'd have Memphis, Cincinnati, Charlotte, and San Diego dipping in and out of the majors and never really amounting to anything. What's the point?

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1 hour ago, the admiral said:

All that is true and what it really does is create a churn of quadruple-A franchises: the teams that are promoted don't really do anything in the top flight but collect their revenue, drop back down, beat up on the next league down with the money they made the year before, move back up, repeat. So you'd have Memphis, Cincinnati, Charlotte, and San Diego dipping in and out of the majors and never really amounting to anything. What's the point?

 

Exactly. You get a few top-tier clubs that can contend for a title, a revolving door of yo-yo teams, and then a solid chunk of 10-12 teams or so that are permanently stuck in the middle of the table, never winning titles but also never getting relegated. 

 

There's very little intrigue in most European leagues at this point (England is the main exception, and even they only have 4-5 teams that have a prayer of winning a title, outside of some bizarre Leicester City circumstances). Germany is completely dominated by Bayern, Italy by Juventus, France by PSG, and at least Spain gives us a 2 1/2 team competition between Real, Barca, and Atletico in a really good year. 

 

Promotion and relegation makes the current Cavs/Warriors domination of the NBA look like child's play.

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MLS should be lauded for shirking pro/rel. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the “pro/rel in MLS” folks are complete jackanapes.

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And another thing, baseball is a sport of history, and the National League has comprised the Cubs, Braves, Reds, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, and Pirates since the 19th century. The composition of half the league predates several statehoods. And one of those is supposed to get kicked to the Pacific Coast League?

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The other big issue is signing players and roster size since the draft would go away. If a player is being chased by the Yankees and Myrtle Beach, he's going to New York. Then when he can't make the roster he ends up in Short-A ball in Minnesota.

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