What Chaps My Taffy: Baseball Re-Alignment

Emilio, Rocking A Rolly Fingers Stache In Honor Of His Newest Article
Guest Writer: Emilio Gladstone
Follow Emilio On Twitter (@EmilioGladstone) And Voice Your Thoughts On “What Chaps My Taffy”

I feel bad for the Orioles.  I know, Emilio Gladstone is not supposed to have compassion or empathy, yet the Baltimore Orioles cut through the armor-like casing of my heart and stir feelings in my chest of what, after extensive research, I have to assume is pity.  The Orioles have been irrelevant since Cal Ripken, Jr. retired in 2001, but even as Cal was breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, the Orioles were a doormat for other teams in the league.  Besides the inept ownership and management at the top of the organization, a major reason the franchise is so terrible is the division it plays in which it plays.  In the AL East, Baltimore goes up against two of the biggest spending clubs in Major League Baseball: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.  This means these two behemoths are on Baltimore’s schedule a disproportionate number of times over the course of the season.  I propose a new system to allow small market teams like the Orioles a chance to compete on a more regular basis: divisional rotation.

Instead of having teams stuck in a single division year after year, being outspent by their larger-market rivals, why not rotate divisions every few years?  With the league expanding inter-league play and including two extra Wild Card teams in the playoffs, the time is now to make this change.  It will still be limited geographically as to how exactly how to align the teams, as you couldn’t very well have the Mariners and the Marlins in the same division because of travel considerations, but a reasonable shuffling of the clubs could be managed.  The first step to doing this is picking ONE system between the American and National Leagues regarding the designated hitter.

As this free agent season has shown, the big bats favor the American League.  As Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder showed us, the AL allows the transition from everyday position player to designated hitter at the twilight of a player’s career.  Pujols in particular could see clearly how he could still contribute at the end of his 10 year, $254 million deal that takes him to the age of 42 when the terms expire.  Besides eliminating the unfair practice of making AL pitchers take hacks in the playoffs when they haven’t had to all year and the inconsistent rules between leagues, putting designated hitters in across the MLB or eliminating them completely would level the playing-field for landing big-time free agents and pave the way for divisional rotation.  This way, as teams switch divisions and possibly leagues year to year, the rules will be the same across the board.

The plan would be simple: shuffle teams around divisions every two or three years.  Pick whatever system you want for determining the division alignment; lottery, specific rotations every certain number of years, drinking contests, fights to the death.  I don’t care HOW they pick who plays in what division as long as they do it.  Imagine the Braves playing in the NL or AL depending on the year, or the Brewers playing in the NL or AL West.  Yes, the Brewers could play in a Western division.  The travel is not that different from the Texas Rangers playing in Arlington on a Thursday and hopping a plane to Seattle for a series over the weekend.  These centrally located teams could shuffle around more than any others, bringing their fans new and exciting match-ups every year.

People will object to my proposal on the grounds that it tosses traditions out the window.  But what has baseball been doing for the last 30 years?  We’ve seen realignment before with expansion of the league.  We’ve seen rules changed and Wild Card teams added.  Hell, we’ve seen camera umpires and replays for homeruns.  The game has changed already.  Plus, with inter-league play going year-round now, you could still keep traditional rivalries alive without over saturating the airwaves with coverage.  This way we won’t have to listen to ESPN take up 45 minutes of an hour SportsCenter thirty times a season as they cheapen the rivalry between the Yanks and Red Sox with over-coverage.  It’s a win-win situation here, folks.

If the NFL has taught other major sports anything, it’s that you have to adapt.The NFL has changed, shifted, and tweaked until we have rabidly consumed everything about the league that we can possibly get, from injury reports to the actual games.  It’s how football has replaced baseball as America’s pastime.  Baseball cannot keep its head in the sand as other sports adjust to the reduced attention spans of our nation’s citizens.  Update the game, and throw in a new twist with divisional rotation.  As doubtful as it sounds, the Orioles just might end up winning the World Series someday soon…

 

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What Chaps My Taffy: Emilio Defends BCS Critics

We Decided To Finally Allow Emilio To Reveal His Identity This Month

Guest Writer: Emilio Gladstone
Follow Emilio On Twitter (@EmilioGladstone) And Voice Your Thoughts On “What Chaps My Taffy”

Now that the college football season is over, and the fervor has died down just over a week after the championship game was played in New Orleans, I figured I should throw my two cents in on the Bowl Championship Series system. My chappage this month lies not with the system, but with the critics of it. What is everyone complaining about?

Take a look at the BCS games this year. Besides the debacle that was the Orange Bowl (and yes, I did cry myself to sleep that night as a Clemson grad), the games were great. The Rose Bowl came down to the final minutes with Oregon triumphing over Wisconsin 45 to 38 as the Badgers couldn’t spike the ball to try one last heave for the end zone to tie it. The Fiesta Bowl went into overtime as Oklahoma State beat Stanford by a field goal. The same is true of the Sugar Bowl with Michigan knocking off Virginia Tech in overtime by 3. The BCS Championship was a phenomenal game if you like old-school defensive football. And the critics who said it was boring also said the same of the Orange Bowl that was a West Virginia offensive explosion. Blowout? Most definitely but there was scoring aplenty (which is what I thought those same critics wanted).

While the games themselves were good, the BCS could use some tweaking to decide who plays in receive these coveted bowl bids. Conference affiliations should be eliminated. With all of the realignment that has taken place over the past few years, the old system of PAC-12 vs. Big 10 in the Rose and ACC vs. Big East in the Orange have no relevance any more today. Many traditional rivalries have been lost so why not these as well? The Big East is adding teams from Texas for crying out loud. It’s a new era in college football.

Automatic bids should be done away with as well. Neither participant in the Orange Bowl deserved to be there. Clemson lost to NC State, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina in 3 of its last 4 games. West Virginia was in a three-way tie for the Big East title and only got to go because it was ranked highest in the final BCS rankings. Same for the Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech lost to Clemson (twice) and Michigan was borderline as a selection. Get rid of preseason polls. All the top-ranked teams have to do is not lose. Don’t rank anyone until further into the season and look at the body of work they have done so far. Don’t release a poll, ANY POLL, until week 6 or 7. As for the Championship game, the overwhelming cry I heard was that people didn’t want a rematch. Personally, I didn’t care. LSU and Alabama were clearly the two best teams in the country. Oklahoma State did not deserve to be there. They lost to Iowa State, a 6-7 team overall. Even with the extenuating circumstances regarding the tragedy at their school, there is no excuse. The two best teams played the game.

It’s not the fault of the BCS that the SEC schools dominate college football through their deep talent pools, a passion (and arrogance) that dwarfs most other programs and conferences, and generally lower academic standards. Hey, Notre Dame, you have the easiest road to a BCS game. If you want to compete, get off of your high horse and let some slightly less intelligent, more athletic kids into your hallowed halls. Let’s be serious and acknowledge now that “student-athlete” is a mislabeling of these young men. They are there to play football first and foremost.

The BCS is flawed but not entirely broken. It panders to stronger conferences like the SEC. It is unfair in offering bids. I would rather see a playoff system, but that is highly unlikely with the money involved for these bowl games. The BCS got it right this year in the Championship game, and, though some more deserving teams should have been in the lesser BCS bowls, that is no fault of the system. That blame lies with those bowl committees that have to take some automatic qualifying teams or can pick whoever will sell the most tickets. But the complainers should re-watch those bowl games and shut up. Those match-ups provided some of the most exciting football I saw all season. But Bill Hancock is still a douchebag…

What Chaps My Taffy: The NBA

Note from the author: Guest Writer- Emilio Gladstone

All apologies for the hiatus, sports fans; the real world has occupied much of my time lately.  Before I get started on my latest rant, I’d like to remind everyone that we are now in the midst of the season of giving.  With that in mind, I invite you to pass on  your thoughts on “What Chaps My Taffy” and the topics we have covered in our first few articles.  You can send me topics you’d like to see me cover, your own rants, or just general thoughts about me (ad hominem attacks welcome) and my viewpoint of the world of sports.  My email address is emiliogladstone@gmail.com, and I look forward to keeping warm this winter by printing out your emails and burning them to piss off some dirty hippies.

 

Less than a month ago, I was celebrating the fact that the NBA season would be cancelled this year.  I wouldn’t have to put up with 8 months of nonexistent defense, mugging at the camera after a dunk trying to look “hard”, and hideous suits after games at press conferences.  Alas, my dreams were crushed as the horribly nasal voice of David Stern wheedled its way into the ears of the representatives of the NBA Players’ Association and they capitulated to the owners, ending the lockout.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy basketball.  I enjoy going out and playing a pickup game (though I haven’t done it in a couple of years as I am currently doing my best to get fat), and March is one of my favorite times of the year as the Madness of the NCAA tourney envelopes me.  But, sports fan though I am, I cannot embrace the National Basketball Association.

 Following sports, especially at the professional level, you come to expect big egos and ridiculously over-inflated self-worth from the athletes.  They are men at the peak of their physical prowess who are gifted beyond belief.  They have been told their entire lives that they are the greatest things to happen since Jesus turned water into wine and made that wedding a kick-ass party.  It just seems that the egos in the NBA have warped beyond all other pro athletes.  It is so pervasive among the players that when a seemingly humble player (i.e. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry) comes along, they are the exception rather than the rule.  I hate the basketball highlights as players who make a routine layup or easy dunk celebrate as if they just rescued a kitten from a tree even if their team is down by thirty points.

Which brings me to my next point: what happened to the sense of team in the NBA?  I think back to when I was growing up, even the Chicago Bulls of the glory years, and it wasn’t just Jordan.  Yes, he was the focal point, but I can name plenty of others on the team: Scottie Pippin, Tony Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Horace Grant, and even Luc Longley just off the top of my head.  And Jordan took a pay cut at one point to bring in the pieces around him.  Beyond James, Wade, and Bosh, I can’t name another player on the Miami Heat right now and those three all have max contracts or damn close.  I am picking on the Heat right now because I am sick of hearing about them.  They have continued this new trend in the league to form “super teams.” 

  It really started with Boston’s “Big Three” of Garnett, Allen, and Pierce a few years ago, but the Heat are the ones that epitomize this disease.  Superstar players are now demanding trades to form these powerhouses.  Carmelo Anthony last year followed by Chris Paul and Dwight Howard recently are perfect examples of this.  At least Lebron and Bosh waited until they were free agents.  If this trend continues, the NBA may as well eliminate teams and contract down to the few with all of the talent and not subject us to such a long season.  The national media will only cover these teams anyway as the gap between the big market teams that can afford the top players and the small market teams that can’t widens each year.   Just go straight to the playoffs, David Stern, and quit chapping my taffy.  We already know who will end up there…