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What might have happened with contraction - a short timeline

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  • What might have happened with contraction - a short timeline

    Note: I didn’t have time for much, though i started a couple other timelines, and I don’t know if it’s as realistic as it could be with more time. However, it’s one idea for how contraction might have occurred and what could have resulted. It won’t be a long timeline, and you'll notice my TLs stay the same number of teams or have expansion so it's a bit easier for me to factor that stuff in than contraction, but I hope you enjoy it.

    One thing that prevented contraction was a leak. Since it’s hard to imagine a leak not occurring in one of the places, especially with the 24-hour news cycle, I move things up a year instead and have something happen PR-wise; the “trial balloon” that often comes in attempts to see how something will be received. In other words, it won’t be an accidental leak, but something someone wants to get out (even if it’s not totally accurate.)

    It’s likely contraction was considered for a while, after all. So, this “trial blloon” is floated before training camp in 2001, not as the season ends. And, in a nod to the players’ union, rosters in the big leagues are expanded from 25 to 26, also a nod to the fact teams carry more pitchers, and a lot of players on the impacted squads are given free agency. Free to sign with any team, it could appease them. Of course, it won’t appease the fans, but Commissioner Selig’s plans weren’t always that well thought out. Which, actually, makes this hurried up plan rather plausible.


    Part 1 – The Quick Move

    It’s hard to gauge when a team might suddenly perk up. However, Carl Pohlad had concerns. So did others, but he did in particular.

    He had a lousy team with horrid attendance as his Twins suffered through the 2000-1 offseason. His lease was up soon. Commissioner Selig was his friend, and they’d privately discussed folding his team. But, if they had a good year, like when the Twins suddenly became good in 1984 and prevented a move, all bets could be off. Even without that, he still had two years left on his lease at the Metrodome. He wondered if he could break it.

    He floated a trial balloon in January of ’01, threatening to move the club.(1) A string of emergency court dates told him he’d have no luck. Fearful that the Twins could move before the opening of the 2001 season, the state had ensured that the Twins had to play out their lease.

    Baseball knew where they stood with at least one club. Their trial balloon showed that if the Twins were the team to be contracted with the Expos, it couldn’t be done before the end of the 2002 season. And, Selig and other owners had hoped to be able to do it sooner. After all, that’s why there was a committee discussing it. He had other ideas, though.

    John Henry, owner of the Marlins, had been interested in putting together a group to buy the Red Sox. He couldn’t if he owned the Marlins, of course. Baseball had wanted to take over the Expos from Jeff Loria, and might have transferred the Marlins to him. Now, they could just buy the Expos outright from Loria, and let Henry give up his Marlins. They’d hoped to be able to do that and fold the Expos, possibly after 2001.

    Selig thought two – at most four - teams could be contracted. Neither Florida team was doing much. He and Loria agreed privately that he would just promise Loria a club later if they folded the Marlins; which they might. Florida had virtually no season tickets, it seemed, and had little fan interest; it was getting lower in Tampa, too. He hoped he was gauging it right; he would give Miami a chance just in case this way.(2) Selig also said another club could open op quickly, though, as the Devil Rays had financial problems and the Diamondbacks had a couple years of credit problems already behind them. He also gave Pohlad the go ahead to dump payroll.

    People worried about the Twins and the Marlins moving, as they knew the Marlins had ownership issues, too. The Expos were really in dire straits; in fact, some wondered how the Twins could move when the Expos didn’t have a certain place to move. Rumors of Washington, Portland, San Juan, and a few others surfaced. Meanwhile, the Twins started dealing. And so, moving and not contracting became the main worry of people as 2001 spring trainings opened. Contraction was mentioned as possible, but few believed it.

    Pohlad hoped his team would be the one to be contracted with the Expos. He decided to do a salary dump, partly to make that happen (less fan interest would result) and partly to just make more money and get some cash from other clubs. However, just in case, he planned to acquire some higher priced veterans for what he called “one last try” at a winning team. Whether he did this with a genuine desire to win is uncertain; his actions are considered to be similar to Bob Short’s acquiring of Denny McLain for the 1971 season in Washington, albeit with better results in some ways, which makes him appear more genuine than Short did with that trade.

    Pohlad named himself GM and worked a trade with the Mets. On the whole, it made sense. The Mets got two top pitchers, Brad Radke and Eric Milton, from the Twins along with outfielder Matt Lawton. They sent the Twins starting pitchers Rick Reed and a “forever a potential star” players, Steve Trachsel, whom they’d acquired as a free agent, reliever Dennis Cook, and some prospects, including Timo Perez.(3) Pohlad got veterans and an outfielder to replace Lawton. The Mets’ Rick Reed was aging, so it even made sense for the defending N.L. champs, since they got younger in their very good pitching staff Pohlad admitted Reed was “getting up there” and then decided to get a few pitchers for him. Still, he insisted it was because the Twins felt the need to “win now or else” that he made the deals.

    In a way, it was the reverse of the McLain deal, as Radke had led the league in losses; Milton was a good young hurler but his ERA had been almost 5. The extra prospects, Pohlad promised, would replace Lawton someday – though cynics asked, “in what city?”

    The trade would push the Mets to an 89-win season, as Radke started out really well. The 2001 Mets would snap the Braves’ record stretch of division titles.

    The one which gets compared to the McLain deal in hindsight saw the Twins send third baseman Corey Koskie, Rick Reed, and a player to be named later to Detroit for Dean Palmer, pitchers Dave Mlicki and C.J. Nitkowski, third baseman Jose Macias, and a player to be named later, who wound up being Victor Santos, who did very well in the 2001 season coming over from Detroit before doing very poorly in 2002.(4) Pohlad said of Reed, “He will do better in a pitcher’s park, not the Metrodome.” This turned out to be true, as a road pitcher he did poorly there. Pohlad continued by adding, “Mlicki has had excellent years, and will really help with his veteran presence, as will Palmer. Our pitchers are quite young. As for Palmer, if he can’t play third Macias can.” Palmer couldn’t play third anymore as it turned out; he even lost his platoon job with David Ortiz at DH. The Tigers had enough financial trouble themselves that they sold it as a cost cutting move, and were pleasantly surprised when Koskie hit so well.

    However much he sold the moves, though, it would quickly become apparent that the Twins had problems. Pohlad’s Twins started out 1-4 - as he had hoped. And yet, as they came back home, they swept the Tigers and won two more in a row against the White Sox before losing the third and a couple to the Royals. They were 7-7 at the end of that first homestand but not far out of first.

    However, despite being in contention at the end of April, his team was drawing very poorly. They would finish 28th in attendance in 2001.(5)


    (1) The POD is the leak before the 2001 season; after all, the committee studying contraction had to be working for a while before making recommendations, though I suppose an earlier commit start is also plausible. Here, a lot of the legal stuff gets under way during 2001, even though the leak involves moving to save them from revealing the real reason behind it.

    (2) In OTL there was a decline in fan interest in the Marlins, too, despite improvement in 2001, with them drawing the second worst average number of fans after the Expos. And, after some excitement at first, Tampa Bay’s interest had gone way down, too.

    (3) Lawton was traded OTL to the Mets later in 2001 for Reed, and it actually still looks like it could be a decent trade, though there would be ulterior motives.

    (4) Not as dumb as it looks now. Palmer did play third in 2000, Nitkowski had good years before 2000 and was young, Mlicki was also younger, and they got a good player to be named later. Pohlad actually takes on a bit more salary here, so he appears to try to win. While he might make other trades that work out better, for purposes of this TL he’s making ones that don’t so the Twins’ season isn’t as good as OTL’s.

    (5) OTL attendance still wasn’t much higher with them doing well, and even in 2002 was only 20th, so this seems plausible with a merely decent start.
    If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

    "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input

  • #2
    Part 2 – Contraction – The Good, the Bad, and the Weird

    With memories of 1987, and of the ’84 contention, Pohlad wondered if his team could win. After beating the Yankees to salvage one game of a three-game series in their second homestand, the Twins stood at 13-13. His team was now in third, just behind the second place Tigers, whose Koskie was hitting really well and becoming the new hero in Detroit. Twins’ fans clamored that were it not for the Koskie deal, they would be in first; never mind the fact Reed hadn’t pitched well in hitters’ parks. The Indians were 3.5 up and in first.

    Pohlad as GM was seen as a “panic move” GM by some, that being one who made trades on a whim. It bugged fans a lot, as they fretted over where the Twins might try to move. He traded Torii Hunter to the Pirates for Derek Bell, John Vander Wal, Jr., and Pat Meares (because their second baseman was still quite young, in Pohlad’s words). Pohlad said Bell could really provide “more veteran leadership” and pointed out that Bell had been in the 1992 World Series. They also got Gary Matthews, Jr. off waivers from the Cubs later. Hunter had been in a slump, but while the Pirates could easily say it was a cost-cutting move, it again raised eyebrows as Hunter was a young star and it didn’t seem like Matthews, Jr. would amount to as much.

    And, of course, a lot of the contracts Pohlad was acquiring expired at the end of the year. “What does he think he’s doing, running the Timberwolves?” one columnist quipped, referring to how NBA teams often sought expiring deals.

    Once the Twins dropped out of contention after the 2001 All-Star Break, he shopped the worse performing players. A trade of Mlicki for Jose Lima did work well; Lima improved quite a bit. However, nobody would claim Palmer or Bell off waivers, so they were released, as were a couple minor players. Now, Pohlad just looked dumb, to the extent some joked about trades for Reggie Jackson or a return of fan favorite Rod Carew. Jay Leno had a skit where Pohlad tried to revive a dead Walter Johnson to pitch for them. The Twins had hung near .500 in early July but never got over the .500 mark, and finished 70-92.

    Lawsuits had flooded baseball. There was no huge outpouring of grief over the Expos or even Marlins, though the latter had some from the state legislature. Selig promised that, “There will be a team in Florida,” which made some wonder which would go; indeed, he wanted to gauge fan interest. As it turned out, ticket sales were horrid in Miami and experts all say they would have been even if season tickets had been offered.(1)

    Therefore, since the Twins couldn’t be contracted – yet, anyway - Selig decided to go with his secondary plan. He announced, “We have decided, to restore fiscal sanity to baseball, to contract at least two teams. One will be Montreal, for whom an owner has not been found, there is no radio deal, and there is little interest…” Fans booed and hissed, especially in Montreal, as he continued. “We will make it up to those Expos fans who expected baseball. A Triple-A club will be moved at the earliest convenience. Also, while it may have the looks of an Oldtimers Series we are arranging for a series between the 1994 Yankees and Expos.…”

    Selig knew some might be worried about the Twins. He didn’t want Pohlad to have to pay for breaking his lease. Therefore, the next team would be another in search of a new owner. He announced, “The second is the Florida Marlins, whose owner wishes to sell and to purchase another ball club. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will play games in Miami to see if they would be better off there. Such a plan worked well when the White Sox played in Milwaukee before the Brewers came. I promise the citizens of Miami that they will have no more massive sell-offs like after their 1997 World Series win. We wish to avoid that in all of baseball,” Selig said.

    Fans were stunned, but John Henry wasn’t interested in continuing to run the team. Major League Baseball had no season tickets to refund and only a bit of a lease.

    Things got so bad for the 2002 Devil Rays, however, Selig wondered if he’d contracted the wrong team. Baseball had to bail them out in late May and again in August.(2) Tampa Bay fans were staying away in droves, as extra free agents led to mistakes like trading Steve Cox and signing Andres Galarraga in the hopes he could energize Tampa’s bats; his age and injuries forced Greg Vaughn to play more, and Vaughn was awful. The Devil Rays finished 2002 with a major league worst 51-110, as many losses as the 1969 Padres and Expos and more than anyone since the hapless original Mets won 40, 51, 53, and 50 their first four years.

    Selig had seen enough after baseball’s second bailout of the Tamps club. Everyone complained that he’d contracted the wrong club. It had been logical to stick with Tampa, which had an ownership group. Still, the fact the Devil Rays’ owner had wanted to keep the team and the Marlins’ owner didn’t was not very appeasing. They were clearly in desperate financial straits. That August, Selig quickly had baseball take over the floundering team which couldn’t make payroll, and the club was just as quickly given to Loria, as per the promise of a team. Loria made sure the last home series was played in Tampa, because there were lots of rumors that he was, in fact, thinking of moving the club to Miami for 2003.

    Overall, baseball’s 2001-2 offseason had been good. Labor peace would be reached. With a few dozen extra free agents from the Expos (like Vladimir Guerrero, who joined the Angels and prevented a need for a trade, leading them to the 2002 World Series), the offseason was more interesting. The Expos and Marlins weren’t seen as huge losses. The glut of new minor leaguers also meant clubs were allowed to open an additional minor league team if they chose; ironically, the Yankees opened one in Montreal. It was a short season one to give those setting things up a chance, pending what would hopefully later become a AAA club, but it would be something. The minimum salary was also increased in each of the next two years, and starting in 2002 major league rosters would have 26 players on them, not 25; a move favored by many managers because of the number of pitchers carried versus even a decade ago.

    Also, the 2002 All-Star Game had been very exciting, decided in the 9th inning and featuring a couple key hits and an amazing catch from the Pirates’ Torii Hunter, who was named the MVP in the N.L.’s win.(3) In fact, the Pirates – moved to the N.L. East with the Expos and Marlins contracted – finished 84-78, their first finish above .500 since 1992. Things were looking up in Pittsburgh, and Selig got lots of praise because of that.

    Selig’s Expos-Yankees tilt in November, 2002 – played entirely indoors in Montreal - saw the Yankees win in 6. It was popular with some, and drew decent ratings, but there were plenty of jokes because the “Expos’” John Wetteland had gone to New York; lots of former ’94 Yankees knew how he threw from after he’d come there in ’95. Tim McCarver drew groans from across America with his joking reference to this: “Commissioner Selig didn’t foresee that the ’94 Yankees’ knowledge of Wetteland from the future is like giving a Gray’s Sports Almanac to each batter…. If Doctor Emmett Brown were here he would accuse the commissioner of creating a time-shattering paradox,” referring to the “Back to the Future” trilogy.

    The games drew well, but were not sellouts. Still, Selig’s idea was seen by many as, “Not good or bad, just weird.” And, of course, there was also the annoyance of having the Yankees in a so-called 1994 World Series even in a year they weren’t in the actual World Series that year; well, it was annoying to those who could understand that sentence anyway.

    It wasn’t all peaceful for Selig, though. The lease was up on the Twins after 2002 and Pohlad had done nothing to renew it or to move the team. So, rumors swirled all over. As one reporter said, “Baseball is trying to take back November as a month where it draws our interest. But, not necessarily in a good way.”

    Before the 2001 announcement, some had worried that the Pirates could be contracted. That was almost impossible with a new ballpark, and they had drawn very well despite poor play. However, even then fans had complained about history.

    As 2002 wore on, Twins’ fans picked up the slack, saying the original teams of the A.L. should not be contracted; moved, yes, but not eliminated. The St. Louis Browns’ memories were still there, despite the Orioles’ different name and everything. Indeed, an all-Orioles/Brownss team might only have George Sisler on it, and he’d only back up Eddie Murray. And, the Browns’ most famous player might be Bill Veeck’s midget, Eddie Gaedel!

    Of course, if the Twins won the division, they would have trouble even moving, but Pohlad could try. They wound up in the mid-20s in attendance.(4) Their opening day payroll was only a little above $20 million, thanks to a trade of LaTroy Hawkins, who’d had a poor 2001. Jose Lima was their most expensive player by far. Twins fans continued to stay away as Pohlad remained mum. Even Detroit was horrid, but they were in a major baseball city in a good market, so fans would return, though at times Koskie seemed like their only good player. Nobody was sure if Twins’ fans would – or would be able to return.

    The Devil Rays had, as noted, almost gone bankrupt. And yet, Loria had been promised a team. So, they still existed. What would they do this offseason? One Minnesota executive agreed with what some fans were suggesting. The Devil Rays were so bad, perhaps they could be merged to become the Tampa Twins, which the Twins had almost become after the 1984 season.

    Along with the Twins/Tampa worries, even Athletics’ fans were disturbed. Baseball had promised the team more money for not renewing their lease.(5) Complaints were really loud about them. Selig promised he wouldn’t contract the Athletics; they were so good, after all. And, to prove his point, he told them to go ahead and make offseason plans. But, why, then, did he tell them season tickets should not be among them?

    It seemed Selig had another idea, similar to the Twins’ executive’s suggestion, but also akin to the NFL’s actions with the Colts and Rams three decades earlier.


    (1) OTL’s Marlins drew less than 800,000 fans in 2002 despite rumors which could have drawn fans and a good young team that finished above .500 in OTL. Such malaise would be noticeable before the push for season tickets, to the point where the team just wouldn’t offer any.

    (2) OTL they had to help them once early in the summer, with more players purchased and a few other changes they would end up unable to meet player payroll twice.

    (3) OTL he had a key hit and made a great catch, and was considered by some to have deserved a co-MVP Award when the teams finished in a tie. Here, his heroics for the other league end up giving the N.L. the win; there will be no “All-Star winner gets home field” here.

    (4) OTL they were 20th, but the team doesn’t do as well without some stars, though they do have some good young players.

    (5) It was only renewed midway through the 2002 season OTL.
    If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

    "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


    • #3
      Part 3 – A Look Back - The 2002 Season

      For all those who said baseball’s financial picture had been fixed by the contracting of the Expos and ownerless Marlins (and even the Expos’ owner hadn’t wanted them), just as many said it hadn’t. The Angels’ signing of Vladimir Guerrero meant they were loaded – and they had four outfielders and a first baseman to rotate at DH and give nights off to. They won 105 games, six up on the wild card Athletics, and went on to win the World Series. Carl Pavano, one of Motnreal’s better pitchers, had signed with the Yankees; though he did quite poorly them, enough so they traded him, after which he improved quite a bit.(1)

      There had been something of a dispersal draft, but mostly of minor leaguers, though those with only a couple years of major league experience were also dispersed. And, some players got chances, anyway, like Brad Fullmer being traded from Toronto to the Angels at the trade deadline when they’d had their eye on him before being able to acquire Guerrero.

      The Dodgers had signed the Expos’ other brightest young star, Jose Vidro, putting Mark Grudzielanek back at short, though with a good young prospect coming up he became more of a utility player. This propelled them into a great wild card battle with the Giants.

      The Pirates had been lucky to be able to take Josh Beckett in the dispersal draft, but there weren’t a lot of really good players after the first dozen who were ready to make an impact on the majors. Selig argued that this was good, because the increased free agency was of players who would have left anyway, so it was better if worse teams got younger players whom they could develop. Of course, that meant the team had to have some faith in the players; the Tampa Bay Devil Rays kept running Ryan Dempster, a free agent, out there start after start despite a poor year, which helped contribute to their poor record.

      As for the Twins, Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse blunted the impact of having to rely on the slumping Joe Mays and very ineffective Jose Lima, who opened as the top two starters; Mays had started Opening Day. Matt Kinny wasn’t much better as the fifth starter. When Santana seemed to be eating up too many innings for his age, a good bullpen helped, but Juan Rincon was very ineffective as a starter the times he was put out there, as were some minor leaguers. Their pitching staff was said to be, “Johan, Kyle, and a garbage pile.”

      Despite this, the Twins actually contended in a very mild A.L. Central. Fans seeing the very small payroll – lowest in the majors – and limited chances stayed away for months, but they started coming then, though not enough. As one patron said, “You want to be outside in the summer in Minnesota – it’s so cold at times you have to take advantage of good weather.”

      This time, they lost 3 of their first 4 and then four straight to Cleveland to limp into their first home stand at 3-7. But they became slowly better – including on June 4 winning a game 20-17 while hosting Cleveland.(2) Soon after, Pittsburgh – now in the N.L. East – beat them 2 of 3, but a win over Atlanta put them in a tie for first – yet at 31-33!

      This is where fans became wary. They recalled how in 1997 the White Sox, contending in a weak division, still sold off marquee players to cut costs. They wondered if Pohlad would do so here. They kept being very streaky till later in the month, when they came home tied with the White Sox. The Twins then lost 3 of 4 to Chicago, including one in 15 innings. Twins fans weren’t coming even for the excitement of the pennant race – at least not like people had hoped. June ended with the Twins 2 games below .500 but 1 behind the White Sox for first, with the Indians just another game behind the Twins. Detroit, at 30-49, was only 9.5 games behind the leaders, and barely was able to make payroll without help once, thanks to unloading salaries on the Twins last year; plus they could trade Rick Reed for prospects.

      Suddenly, Selig was faced with another dilemma. The Twins had a really low payroll, like the Devil Rays, but they were winning. Well, okay, not winning like normal; they made 1983 Chicago’s “Winning Ugly’ look like Miss America. But, they were near first. If the Twins were contracted while wining when they didn’t show any financial problems, but the poorly managed Devil Rays weren’t, what did that say about the state of baseball? Selig was convinced it would be a profound insult to the fans. Sure, Pohlad could move, but that was different. Then, he had an idea similar to what he’d heard from the Twins about maybe merging teams.

      In 1972, the owners of the NFL’s Rams and Colts had traded teams – everything, including the kitchen sink. What if Jeff Loria – soon to get the Devil Rays - and Pohlad traded teams? Pohlad could then fold the Devil Rays and get paid by Selig as planned, and Loria could put his new team anywhere he pleased. Then it wouldn’t be a winning team that was being folded; it would be an abysmal team.

      Selig liked the proposal, and in secret negotiations got the approval of all owners. He would save any announcement until after the All-Star Break so as not to clash with it. After all, it was in Milwaukee; people noticed that Selig never spoke of contracting his own wretched team, the Brewers, of course. He still didn’t know who the other team to contract would be. Were it not for the deal with Loria, of course, it could be the Devil Rays. Once baseball transferred the team to Loria in August, he decided to announce the trading of the teams and that – if he couldn’t find another to contract - baseball could own the Devil Rays while deciding what to do.

      The Twins entered the All-Star break at 43-46 having won three of their last five; they were still very close to first. They were in third, only a half-game behind the 43-45 White Sox and Indians.

      Cleveland had been lucky enough to draft Cliff Lee and then get Grady Sizemore in the second round of the dispersal draft. They would have considered a package for Bartolo Colon involving them in fact. They had been privately shopping him for a little while, but so close to the division lead, they chose not to trade him. They actually looked at trading for someone like Larry Walker, with Kenny Lofton not doing as well in center. In fact, the whole offense was slumping. Cleveland wound up with Colon at 20-10, and having an 81-81 mark; they were in contention till the end, though. Cleveland knew their team was aging and would trade Colon in the offseason, with a major bidding war expected if things worked right.

      The White Sox were 85-77. Minnesota was 84-77 – they had to play one last game on Monday while the Dodgers and Giants were playing a game to see who won the N.L. wild card. October baseball in 2002 would be very exciting; however, questions about what would happen to the Twins overshadowed it while Minnesota was still in it.

      Minnesota won their make-up game, with a sellout crowd seeing Santana win in what could be the last game in the Metrodome. However, not a lot had come even during the pennant race till the last few weeks, and the sellout was more fans’ way of wanting to see the last game. The Twins went to Chcago afterward and lost 1-0 on a Frank Thomas home run.

      The White Sox got swept by the Angels, who then won the pennant in 5 games. The Twins? All that was known was the Pohlad and Loria had swapped teams. Pohlad, when asked his plans for the Devil Rays, had no comment during the playoffs. Selig would only say, “Fans should be happy. The history of two prominent cubs is being saved.”


      “That’s right; the Athletics will not be contracting,” Selig said once Oakland had been eliminated – this time in a three-game sweep, as a sharp challenge from the Red Sox – who had signed Mike Lowell from the now defunct Marlins, trading some others for pitching help – kept the Athletics from setting their rotation. Their top starters had pitched the last couple games to keep them ahead of the Red Sox; when they won and Boston lost they wound up two games up, and many in Boston clamored that it was another effect of “the Curse,’ being out of the playoffs despite 97 wins.

      It had been an incredible year for baseball pennant races, but just as in ’94, people worried that Selig was going to spoil it.

      Selig continued. “We are attempting to reach an agreement which will allow us to contract Tampa and allow the Twins to play in Florida, yet have an even number of baseball teams.” He insisted that despite their pathetic play in the N.L., the Brewers would not contract.

      One other team was pathetic - the Royals - yet they had a great jewel of a stadium, and drew fans when they were good; even when bad they’d come close to 2 million at times. The other, Oakland, had such a low budget, kept winning, and yet had seemingly no chance in the Oakland market, with the low payroll they were forced to expend every year. Also, with the Raiders back everything about Oakland was geared more toward football. Thanks to renovations the seating capacity was less than 36,000 for baseball, whereas at Kauffman Stadium, even if renovated they could also add some seats and keep it near 40,000 if not over. Finally, Oakland had to share a market with the Giants, which really hurt them.

      The Oakland Athletics had clamored for a new baseball-only park for decades, almost since they moved to Oakland. They’d almost moved to Denver in ’78, Tampa in ’85, and Chicago in ’75 even after having won three straight World Series! It was possible, of course, that Pohlad’s new team, the Devil Rays, could just be sold to someone else. The Red Sox were already inquiring about David Ortiz from the Twins, who had become a free agent as part of the agreement. However, there were some elements of the Devil Rays being merged into the Twins, with a number of players – like Ortiz – being free agents. So, Selig wondered – could the Royals and Athletics be merged? Or the owners trade teams?

      Considering the Royals’ owner’s claim to have lost money the last two years, his penny pinching ways, and the fact he’d probably gladly cut his losses, the chance seemed too good to pass up. Basebvall would pay him off the same way they paid Pohlad off, having them trade clubs and then contract. But, was Selig biting off more than he could chew? (Well, it was contraction, so maybe spitting out was the better term?) And, if he was, did it really matter?


      (1) OTL, too, he had a very poor first half of 2002 for Montreal.

      (2) Won scoring 23 in OTL, a bit less offense combined with leaving some poorer pitchers in, including Rincon, and a bit worse defense without Hunter in center. That Metrodome carpet leads to some crazy bounces, and this would be one of those games.
      If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

      "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


      • #4
        Part 4 – The Bizarro Plan

        Some fans chide Commissioner Selig for the crazy decisions that he’s made, such as staring in 2003 deciding the World Series home field should be decided by the team with the most wins. It works in the NBA and NHL, but for a sport that has had over a century of knowing who the home field team would be months in advance, fans were quite opposed.

        And yet, the plan he came up with for the other team to be contracted rivaled not only the above but also some of the zaniest decisions fans imagine him making, like having the all-Star Game decide home field.

        It made sense, though, when one considered the Royals’ owner’s stinginess. The ball club had gone, under his watch, from a perennial winner to a perennial cellar dweller. Many criticized his cost-cutting as being to further his own personal profit. The Royals had a great stadium and good fans, but lousy ownership that had lost money in 2001 and a lot more in 2002, meaning the owner was expected to cut more costs.

        On the other hand, the Oakland Athletics were owned by wealthier people who managed, with Billy Beane’s guidance, to put together a stellar team. However, they still had payroll problems and might have to unload a lot of their talent quickly. It was already starting, in fact.

        Not only that, but Oakland also had an expired stadium lease. Selig had told them to site tight on that, instead of renewing it. Some feared contraction, but didn’t really think Selig would do it to a very successful franchise. Then, just after the 2002 World Series, Selig said something that people expected far less than that.

        “Baseball fans of all ages, remember when I said I cared about history? Well, Kansas City fans can take heart. Your Athletics are coming back where they belong.”

        Calls flooded radio stations, including some from Brooklyn Dodger fans wondering when he would act on their behalf. Others wondered if Selig realized that the Athletics were wretched in Kansas City, though most understood that he meant the team that was “supposed to be there.”

        The deal worked like this. As with the Twins and Devil Rays plan, there would be a trade and also a merger of sorts. (Indeed, the Twins got a few of the Devil Rays’ top young talent, as per the conditions of the trade.) The owners would not swap teams, however. Instead, the Athletics and Royals would swap rights to their respective cities, with the Royals’ owner putting his team in Oakland and the Athletics’ in Kansas City. The Royals’ owner would then contract his “Oakland Royals” for a price. The Athletics were rewarded for their part with a few players from the Royals. In addition, they got first dibs on free agents, inking Carlos Beltrain, for instance, to a multi-year deal which would pay off handsomely in ’03.

        Bud Selig had determined that the Diamondbacks’ ownership was sound enough that they didn’t need any help. A merger of the Royals’ and Athletics’ Halls of Fame, much more necessary than for the other merger, would take place in a special ceremony in Kansas City. George Brett would be brought in, along with Reggie Jackson, as Special Assistants to the General Manager and community liaisons. The new Athletics would incorporate Royals’ broadcasters. Rickey Henderson signed as a part-time DH and pinch-hitter, partly because of the 26-man rosters. As for their uniforms, green, gold, and Royals blue would all be used at some time, with the number of combinations growing as marketers came up with ideas, the most popular being one with the dot on the “i” as the Royals’ crown.

        As goofy as it looked, it greatly increased the Kansas City Athletics’ market share, though partly out of fan curiosity at first. As the ’03 season wore on, and the club was successful, jersey sales for all the different looks helped Kanas City rise to the upper tier in jersey and cap sales, which increased their revenue. Baseball wasn’t just the Red Sox and Yankees, as it had been with much of their revenue the last few years. And, of course, they wouldn’t have to share TV ratings with the Giants. On the contrary, they had whole states to themselves. Fans in that area went from dubbing Selig incompetent to calling him “Baseball’s Nutty Professor.”

        Selig promised that was all the contraction there would be. He was right. Baseball had gotten rid of two clubs with expired leases, a third (Montreal) where they only had to pay one year of a lease, a fourth club (Tampa Bay) which had the owners shouldering some of the blame and thus the cost, and thanks to Loria’s agreement to play in Miami for 2003, even avoided paying a lot of costs to escape Miami’s lease, though some games would be played in Tampa as well since they’d drawn a little better; the reverse of the 2002 situation. The team was simply called the “Florida Twins,” with people joking that they didn’t know if that meant the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg or the Tampa/Miami markets; in which case some jokingly called for Orlando to also host games and turn them into the Florida Triplets.

        Still, there was some confusion as to where the new Florida Twins would play at first. They might actually switch leagues if it was possible. However, that seemed strange, as they were now the inheritors of all the old Washington and Minnesota history.

        Various scenarios were discussed, including moving the Diamondbacks to the American League and Miami to the National. The Diamondbacks’ move, however, had only been the plan if one team from each league was contracted. That wasn’t needed, so their owners’ insistence on staying in the N.L. could be accepted. Milwaukee could also move back, as some noted that, “For saying they always were more of a National League team, they haven’t had a lot of the old Braves around.” Also, the problem of the Twins drawing fans away from Milwaukee if they stayed in the A.L. was gone now, though the Tigers were still there.

        Some even proposed that the Diamondbacks and Padres could both move. This would let them keep their rivalry and put another California team in the A.L.. Seattle could move out with Miami to the N.L., or – since there were still two A.L. teams on the West Coast - the A.L. could remain with 14 teams and the Athletics move back to the Central, with Toronto in the East. That would have to be for later, though.

        In the end, the league setups would look like this, with order of 2003 finish:
        A.L. East: New York, Boston*, Miami, Baltimore (Red Sox and Twins stage epic wild card race, with Mariners thrown in, too)
        A.L. Central: Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit (Blue Jays win a very good pennant race; some wonder how bad the Tigers – winning in the low 50s – would have been without Koskie.))
        A.L. West: Kansas City, Seattle, California, Texas

        N.L. East: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York
        N.L. Central: Chicago, Houston*, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee
        N.L. West: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, San Diego

        Those who complained about Selig’s handling of the mess had been quieted by baseball’s success in this postseason. Toronto had appeared for the first time in 10 years, Kansas City the first time in 18, there had been some very good races, the Cubs, perennial underdogs, had won behind incredible pitching, and when they won a crucial Game 5 in the divisional series, people began to wonder how far they could go. Selig himself proclaimed that the game was exciting again, and that baseball’s financial future was very rosy.

        Things were rosy till steroid rumors, but that wouldn’t be for a while. Even with those, baseball had three straight very memorable World Series for clubs looking for redemption starting in 2003 (four if you count the Angels), and the 2003 playoffs were one to remember for Kansas City. Because, the jokes about the Royals and Athletics merging came true to some extent, as an Athletics team meeting the Yankees for the fourth straight year in the ALCS converged with a Royals team in 1980 which had done so for the fourth time in five years. And, the World Series was a doozy, too.
        If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

        "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


        • #5
          Part 5: The Great 2003 Postseason, and Sox Jinxes Broken

          In the early 1970s, before free agency hit, Kansas City fans had to watch as a dynasty rose in Oakland with a team that had been theirs. In 2003, while it wasn’t a dynasty, the tables were turned. This began with the Red Sox, unable to set their rotation because of the closeness of the wild card race, losing to the Athletics, who had retained a few Royals’ players.

          One of those was Carlos Beltran, as mentioned. Another was the starting shortstop, because Miguel Tejada left for Baltimore as a free agent.(1) Three Royals’ pitchers from 2002 made the Kansas City Athletics, including Darrell May, the new fourth starter who helped to beat the Red Sox and clinch the ALDS, setting up another showdown with the Yankees. As one sign read at Kauffman Stadium, it was “1980 all over again.”

          For those who preferred to recall the year they won the Series, there were similarities to 1985, too, with the Yankee-Blue Jay ALDS showdown (like the ’85 A.L. East race), the White Sox staying in contention for quite a while, and, Miami’s presence in the A.L. and the Cubs’ success in the N.L. making the “Back to the Future” prediction of the Cubs beating Miami in the 2015 World Series seem possible 12 years early. So what if that was actually from the second movie, which came out three years later? It sure didn’t keep Tim McCarver from mentioning it.

          Carlos Beltran’s super bat had helped the Kansas City Athletics to down the Red Sox. But, there were concerns, as Barry Zito spoke of leaving, probably for the Giants.

          When the Athletics played the Yankees, Beltrain hit a record number of home runs as the Athletics went on to win the pennant. Whereas much of the baseball world was paying attention to only the Red Sox and Yankees before this year – and even during it – now, all of a sudden, the Athletics were the talk of baseball. Sellout crowds were constant with the Athletics, and the team drew almost 3 million during the regular season, again vindicating Bud Selig.

          Kansas City’s win in 4 over the Red Sox allowed them to set their rotation to match the Yankees’. Beltran stole the show, however, with 2 of the Athletics’ three home runs as they took Game 1 5-4 in New York. The Yankees won game 2 behind Andy Pettite, but the Athletics took 2 of 3 in Kansas City. Game 6 featured 3 Beltran home runs, reminiscent of George Brett’s 3-homer game in 1978 in the ALCS, and the Athletics were on their way to the World Series, just like in 1980, when they’d clinched in New York. The game in the Bronx came down to stopping a late Yankee rally, as Kansas City won 6-4, with spot starter Dontrelle Willis coming on for the last outs to get the save. He’d been obtained with the Cubs’ former starting catcher for veteran help before the 2003 season.

          Yes, the Cubs had traded their former starter, because of uncertainty connected with Miami, and whether a club would play there and how much. While Ivan Rodriguez thought about going there, there was too much confusion. Houston also wanted him, but they had a starter and by the time they haggled over what they could get in return, the Cubs had made a larger offer for Pudge Rodriguez than anyone else, and they signed him. They promised he would be the key to helping their young pitchers. The Astros would sign Roger Clemens instead in 2004, with the money they saved not getting Rodriguez.

          The Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had been slumping. They’d outbid several teams for Ivan Rodriguez as a free agent after 2002, and discussed trading Sosa.(2) However, instead they tried this one last gasp effort, and ended up winning their division. Then, Houston finally got over the hump winning a playoff series in 5, with Roy Oswalt getting the key Game 5 victory.

          Once there, the Cubs’ Kerry Wood won Game 1 big, but the wild card Astros took Game 2, as Carlos Zambrano struggled mightily. Down in Houston, the Cubs won Game 3, and then lost Game 4 in extra innings – 18 in fact - 8-6, as Zambrano wound up taking the loss after also losing Game 2; he was only on 2 days’ rest but it was his normal practice day.

          Wood and another hurler were both out in Game 5, as it went 10 innings before the Cubs won. The Cubs now had a problem up 3-2 – start Zambrano after he went over 2 innings in Game 4, or start Prior in 3 days’ rest. Which would do better in a Game 7? It was decided Prior should be saved. Roy Oswalt, meanwhile, did start Game 6 – and would have gotten the win on 3 days’ rest were it not for the bullpen letting him down to tie it in the 8th at 3.

          Crazily, Zambrano and a number of other relievers did okay, but an error by the Cubs’ shortstop led to a 5-run 9th that send the Astros from a 3-3 tie to an 8-3 lead. The Cubs then got one back before losing 8-4 to force a Game 7.

          Mark Prior pitched a very good game, but the Cubs didn’t win till the bottom of the 9th, when Troy O’Leary hit a solo home run to win 3-2. It would, amazingly, be his last season. As the announcer called as the ball left his bat, “He hits it deep into left field, and… Bobby Thomson, Bill Mazeroski, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter, and Chris Chambliss, there’s a new member of your exclusive club! Troy O’Leary has just hit a home run to put the Chicago Cubs into the World Series for the first time since 1945!” It was said that the key was Pudge Rodriguez doing a great job helping the young pitchers stay focused.

          Some Cub fans complained because it would have been their turn to host the World Series, but others said that – were it not for the strike – it would have been Kansas City’s turn anyway, so it didn’t matter. Either way, something strange happened.

          Kerry Wood lost Game 1 in Kansas City by a 7-5 score, as Beltran got no home runs but 2 hits and made an amazing catch to rob Sosa of a home run in the 8th that could have tied it before the Athletics got an insurance run in the 9th. But, Carlos Zambrano pitched well and Pudge hit 2 home runs, feeling right at home in a park he’d played in often as a Ranger. The Cubs’ bullpen held and the Cubs won 5-4, and they went back to Chicago tied at one.

          Then, the Athletics needed extra innings to win in Chicago 5-3, and Willis got the win by pitching the 12th for the Athletics, then getting an out in the 13th before the closer came on. They won again the next day by a score of 4-2. Chicago managed to take the last one in Wrigley, 5-4, as Kansas City squandered a 4-2 lead late; they’d been 4 outs away from the series before losing the lead. Back in Kansas City, the Cubs won again as the Athletics again blew a late lead, this time 8-6. The Cubs had won 2 of 3 in Kansas City yet lost 2 of 3 at home!

          It had been one of the best World Series ever. Alas, Cub fans couldn’t rejoice. The Athletics, who had blown a couple late leads, used many of their starters and managed to keep the Cubs’ bats silent as they won 3-2 in Game 7, taking their first World Series since 1989 and Kansas City’s first since 1985, with Beltrain hitting yet another home run and capturing the Series MVP award.

          The Cubs had high hopes for next year, but Rodriguez’ contract was only for one year to see if the Miami mess would settle down; he signed for 2004 with Miami and tutored a young Joe Mauer for nearly two years, with the two also spending time at first and in the outfield once Mauer was called up. Miami contended again in 2004, but the Red Sox were so good they won 101 games and – behind ALCS MVPs Dazvid Ortiz and Mike Lowell – they won the 2004 pennant and went on to take the World Series over the Cardinals in 5.(3)


          (1) He did OTL after 2003, it’s logical he would here after 2002.

          (2) Not as likely, perhaps, as the Red Sox trading Nomar, but the Nomar trade won’t happen in this timeline, as they’ll have a deeper minor league system, as will others, when he goes down with an injury. Therefore, this rumor replaces that in this timeline.

          (3) The Cardinals, as will be seen, can set their rotation a little better, but it won’t be enough to keep the Red Sox from taking their first Series since 1918.
          If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

          "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


          • #6
            Part 6: Miami Muddling

            As mentioned, the Miami club had some high hopes for 2004. The club won 90 games in a very difficult A.L. East, yet finished third. Owner Jeff Loria criticized the lack of fan support – they still weren’t quite at the league average, but they did draw 1.8 million fans. Santna had emerged as a very young ace, and Rodriguez excited the crowds, too.(1) 2005 promised to be more of the same, and the fans were promised that this year, they would break through. After all,t he woeful Cubs had captured the wild card this year, their first back to back playoff appearances since 1907-1908, before losign to the Cardinals(2), who eventually lost to the Boston Red Sox. Why couldn’t it be their turn?

            However, Loria worried about money, as well as a new ballpark, which he began clamoring for during the offseason. The Athletics – what some had come to call the Royal Athletics – had won their second straight division title after being the wild card a few times, after a great pennant race with the Angels. They’d drawn well over 2 million fans again. Why couldn’t the Florida Twins do the same?

            Fearing losing Rodriguez to free agency – he had Mauer after all – Loria ordered him dealt once the Twins dropped to near .500 in late July, despite being less than 5 games back in a crowded wild card race, which looked likely to go to the Athletics/Angels loser. (It would actually go to the Red Sox/Yankees loser, as the Athletics weren’t quite able to make the playoffs, and in fact finished tied with Cleveland in the wild card race.) This may have kept them from drawing 2 million, but it was expected, in a way. Rodriguez became a free agent as expected and moved to Detroit. Pudge led the Tigers to a pennant before losing to the Cardinals in the Series. He would finally win a Series as a backup near the end of his career.(3) The prospects they got didn’t pan out, but if the catcher was going to leave via free agency anyway, why not get something for him? He also ordered a few other players to be traded.

            The White Sox, meanwhile, had broken their jinx as they beat the Houston Astros in 6 games.(4) Octavio Dotel picked up the win in Game 2 after the Sox tied it in the 7th, then the White Sox won a game in 14 innings in Game 3 before a Game 4 1-0 win. Houston managed to win Game 5 in 10 innings, but the Whtie Sox took Game 6 back in Chicago to capture the World Series. By this time, baseball was quite healthy – the Athletics and, to some extent, Cubs and Astros had revitalized interest and talk of clubs other than the Yankees and Red Sox, though 2004’s ALCS Red Sox comeback sure helped. Boston would win once more that decade, also.

            However, there was still talk of realignment. Some even demanded to go back to 2 divisions each, since there were now as many teams as there were before that try for expansion starting in 1993. Others said to do like the NBA and abolish the leagues. Instead, they proposed, have 7 teams in each of the West and Central Divisions, with those clubs playing each other, and 6 each in the Midwest and Eastern divisions, with those clubs playing each other. This, they contended, would guarantee a team of interest to fans nationally would probably win, if a wild card system still existed, while also allowing the sport to have more regional rivalries for longer, such as Mets-Yankees, Mets-Red Sox, and of course Yankees-Red Sox.

            However, for now, it remained the same. After all, in the first few years after the movement of the Twins down to Florida, there were questions about what that club would eventually do, considering attendance concerns.

            In 2006, Lorida said it was a make or break year. The Florida Twins got to the4 playoffs, outpacing the Yankees, who had to settle for a wild card apot after the Twins’ furious comeback. Fans were ecstatic; they had finally beaten the hated Yankees. Meanwhile, the Tigers were downing the Yankees in the playoffs and the Twins could to to play the Kansas City Royal Athletics; two teams which had been traded wholesale instead of being contracted. It was seen as a sign of Selig’s loony plan working.

            The Athletics, hungry after missing the playoffs a year earlier, beat the Florida Twins in 5 games before losing to the Tigers in the ALCS.

            Loria said the payroll was too high, and sent the most prized player left over from Marlin days, Miguel Cabrera, to the Tigers.(5) he also began shopping a few others around, and hinted that John Santana would be dealt rather quickly, as they were afraid of him becoming a free agent. Joe Mauer – who had been signed by the Minnesota Twins and was from there – was deemed almost certain not to stay as well.

            They went from one of the worst drawing teams, yet around 2 million, in 2006 to last by almost half a million fans in 2007, with the 24th best team having 300,000 more than that! Francisco Liriano wasn’t there for a single game that year, Joe Mauer was hurt and slumped, and the club dealt Johan Santana to the Mets part of the way through the season.

            It seemed like it was back to the usual routine for Florida fans, but maybe they would do something good with the prospects they got for players like Santand, Cabrera, and later Mauer. However, after seeing yet one more selloff, fans continued to stay away. And, with the city’s residents refusing to give a stadium to a team which had played some games in Tampa from time to time anyway, there were rumors that something even weirder than the Contraction Trades could occur. Well, okay, maybe not that weird.

            But, over the next couple years, an ownership group and new stadium would emerge in Washington. And, it became increasingly likely that – on the 50th anniversary of their departure from Washington, D.C. – the Twins would be welcomed back with open arms, to once again be the Washington Nationals.

            Why not? Stranger things had happened in baseball.

            Finally, Merry Christmas to thsoe who read.


            (1) Slightly better club plus Yankees and Red Sox coming in to play means probably 100,000 to 150,000 more fans.

            (2) Without Beltran, the Astros likely lose 4 games they won OTL, and the Cubs can win one of those and another to at least tie the Giants; who, with the Dodgers having Vidro and perhaps others, likely lose an extra game or two anyway.

            (3) In OTL’s 2008 he was traded to the Yankees, then went to the Astros and ina trade to the Rangers before finished his career with Washington. With fewer players there are a couple of options here. The Phillies, not the Yankees, trade for him, and do so earlier – they still don’t have a good hitting catcher. The Yankees could keep him for ’09. Or, possibly, if he’s still good enough to make it in 2010with only 26 clubs, he could be a backup for the Giants.

            (4) Having Octavio Dotel – part of the three-team trade that netted them Beltran in ’04 – lets the Astros do a bit better in a couple close games, but they still ultimately lose to the superior White Sox pitching. The games were close, though, and since Dotel had a good year in ’05, it’s safe to say he could make a difference, but not enough to win the World Series.

            (5) He sold off quite a few and had a very low payroll in 2006, but he’s helped by the fact the Florida Twins don’t’ have Torii Hunter or Brad Radke for several years, and they are among their highest priced players. Still, he traded Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis before the 2007 season and is likely to do so to Cabrera here, too.
            If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

            "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


            • #7
              Great TL! Is this the end or will you take us to the present? It'd be interesting to see the Twins become the Senators again. The potential for realignment intrigues me as well.
              *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!


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