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How the 1998 AAA realignment could also have been done

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  • How the 1998 AAA realignment could also have been done

    In 1998, the American Association was dissolved, with its teams split between the IL and PCL. Though seemingly done for travel cost reasons, it actually greatly increased such costs for some teams. Here's how things could have been done instead:

    Buffalo from AA to IL
    Columbus and Toledo from IL to AA
    Memphis established in AA

    IL North:
    Buffalo
    Ottawa
    Pawtucket
    Rochester
    Syracuse

    IL South:
    Charlotte
    Durham (expansion)
    Norfolk
    Richmond
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

    AA North:
    Columbus
    Indianapolis
    Iowa
    Omaha
    Toledo

    AA South:
    Louisville
    Memphis (expansion)
    Nashville
    New Orleans
    Oklahoma City

    As it is now the three-league structure can easily be revived. The American Conference teams in the PCL, all now in the Central Time Zone, can combine with the West Division teams in the IL to form a new league. As the name American Association has been taken by an indie league since 2005, I proposed that the new league be named Heartland League. I would expect this to occur when MLB expands to 32 teams and 2 more teams are needed in each level of minor league baseball. I'd add two teams to the South Division of the IL, by promoting the Bowie BaySox from the AA Eastern League and the Winston-Salem Dash from the High A Carolina League. The PCL would go to a single division structure, have each team play the others 20 times each, and adopt a Shaugnessy Playoff. The IL and HL would have the top three teams in each division make the playoffs. (HL would have the Midwestern teams in the North and the Southern teams in the South.)
    Last edited by PF#9; 03-18-2020, 03:18 PM.
    The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

    See my blog for more info.

  • #2
    Looks like a great idea.
    "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

    Comment


    • #3
      Yeah, there absolutely should be a Midwestern AAA league.

      I suspect MLB expansion is on the horizon fairly soon -- at that time I believe there will be complete reorganization of the minors top to bottom.

      My guess is that each team will have three (3) farm teams, Classes A, AA and AAA. Each team will have roughly 100 players under contract in the minors.

      Comment


      • #4
        There is some resistance to eliminating lower classifications of minor league baseball. If this resistance grows enough, the minor league class system will remain unaltered.

        To give every MLB team an affiliate in both the Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced levels, I'm proposing not only expansion in some of the leagues in those levels, but also the creation of 2 brand-new leagues. Class A Short Season would have a new league based in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin called the Upper Midwest League. The new league in the Rookie Advanced level would be based in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and be called the Midlands League. Several cities in these states have independent teams, some of which will be replaced by teams in these new leagues, like the Sioux Falls Canaries. I expect the Canaries name to be carried over into Sioux Falls' UML team. Some existing minor league teams I expect to change leagues while remaining in their current classification. I have Richmond moving over from the Eastern League to the Southern League, Arkansas, NW Arkansas and Springfield from the Texas League to the SL, and Lexington from the SALLY league to the Midwest League (both the MWL and SALLY leagues get one expansion team, with the UML creating a new North Division based in Wisconsin and Michigan and the SALLY League dividing into divisions along state lines - teams north of NC are in the North Division, teams south of NC in the South Division, and teams in NC in the Tarheel Division).
        Last edited by PF#9; 04-12-2020, 01:34 PM.
        The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

        See my blog for more info.

        Comment


        • #5
          The format for determining the AAA National Championship would also change.

          The three AAA league champions, and the runner-up with the best record, would qualify for Triple-A National Semifinals. The teams would be seeded 1-4 based on final regular season record. The semifinals, which like the National Championship are single-elimination, would take place as a day-night doubleheader on Sunday. The winners meet for the class title on Tuesday.

          With this new format, it is possible that a team that didn't win its league would win the class championship. This format is done so as to prevent one of the participants in the title game from having a rest advantage.
          The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

          See my blog for more info.

          Comment


          • #6
            As well, some of the AAA affiliations, with the expectation that the MLB expansion teams would be in Charlotte and New Orleans (the Charlotte team would use the Knights as their AAA affiliate because their ballpark was just built in 2010), would change to better reflect the relative geographic locations of the teams in both MLB and AAA. New affiliations would take effect in 2027 (a year after I'm projecting when MLB will expand)
            AAA Team League Old Parent Club New Parent Club
            Indianapolis 500s (new name) HL Pittsburgh Pirates Chicago White Sox
            Nashville Sounds HL Texas Rangers Milwaukee Brewers
            Oklahoma City Baby Cakes (new name and owner) HL Los Angeles Dodgers New Orleans Baby Cakes
            San Antonio Missions HL Milwaukee Brewers Texas Rangers
            Wichita Wind Surge HL Miami Marlins Minnesota Twins
            Bowie BaySox (new team) IL New Orleans Baby Cakes* Washington Nationals
            Charlotte Knights IL Chicago White Sox Carolina Speed
            Rochester Red Wings IL Minnesota Twins Pittsburgh Pirates
            Winston-Salem Dash (new team) IL Carolina Speed* Miami Marlins
            Fresno Grizzlies PCL Washington Nationals Los Angeles Dodgers
            Las Vegas Aviators PCL Oakland Athletics Arizona Diamondbacks
            Reno Aces PCL Arizona Diamondbacks Oakland Athletics
            * - Temporary affiliation for 2026 season with new MLB expansion teams

            In the AAA reshuffling, 2 teams would switch from having affiliates in the Heartland League to the International League, 1 from the Pacific Coast League to the International League, 3 from the International League to the Heartland League, and 1 from the Heartland League to the Pacific Coast League. In addition, 2 teams that already had affiliates in the Heartland League would swap their affiliates, 2 teams that already had affiliates in the Pacific Coast League would likewise swap theirs, and 1 team would move from 1 International League affiliate to another.

            Some affiliations in lower classifications would also change.
            Last edited by PF#9; 04-14-2020, 07:28 PM.
            The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

            See my blog for more info.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PF#9 View Post
              As well, some of the AAA affiliations, with the expectation that the MLB expansion teams would be in Charlotte and New Orleans (the Charlotte team would use the Knights as their AAA affiliate because their ballpark was just built in 2010), would change to better reflect the relative geographic locations of the teams in both MLB and AAA. New affiliations would take effect in 2027 (a year after I'm projecting when MLB will expand)
              What's the basis for expecting MLB expansion in Charlotte and New Orleans?
              Put it in the books.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by milladrive View Post

                What's the basis for expecting MLB expansion in Charlotte and New Orleans?
                Those are the two cities I decided I wanted the MLB to expand to. When I first came up with my MLB realignment proposal in 2008, I hadn't chosen the expansion team locations yet. Also, Houston was still in the NL. A few years later I finally decided to choose Charlotte and New Orleans as my favorite markets for MLB expansion. This was shortly before Houston agreed to move to the AL. I initially had anticipated the AL South would consist of Charlotte, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Texas, and the NL South having Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and New Orleans. With Houston going to the AL, I swapped them and New Orleans to the AL South and Charlotte and Tampa Bay to the NL South, so that each South Division occupied one time zone.

                The other teams I anticipate will change divisions would be Colorado to the AL West and Pittsburgh back to the NL East, while both Central Divisions are renamed as North Divisions.

                With my AAA affiliation reshuffle, all the teams in the AL East, NL East and NL South (all located in East Coast states save Toronto) would have their AAA affiliate in the International League, the teams in the AL North, AL South, and NL North (all located in the Midwest and/or Central Time Zone) in the Heartland League, and the AL West and NL West teams (all in the Far Western US) in the Pacific Coast League (now reduced to its teams in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, as it was most of the time pre-1998).
                Last edited by PF#9; 04-14-2020, 04:59 PM.
                The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

                See my blog for more info.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by PF#9 View Post

                  Those are the two cities I decided I wanted the MLB to expand to. When I first came up with my MLB realignment proposal in 2008, I hadn't chosen the expansion team locations yet. Also, Houston was still in the NL. A few years later I finally decided to choose Charlotte and New Orleans as my favorite markets for MLB expansion. This was shortly before Houston agreed to move to the AL. I initially had anticipated the AL South would consist of Charlotte, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Texas, and the NL South having Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and New Orleans. With Houston going to the AL, I swapped them and New Orleans to the AL South and Charlotte and Tampa Bay to the NL South, so that each South Division occupied one time zone.

                  The other teams I anticipate will change divisions would be Colorado to the AL West and Pittsburgh back to the NL East, while both Central Divisions are renamed as North Divisions.

                  With my AAA affiliation reshuffle, all the teams in the AL East, NL East and NL South (all located in East Coast states save Toronto) would have their AAA affiliate in the International League, the teams in the AL North, AL South, and NL North (all located in the Midwest and/or Central Time Zone) in the Heartland League, and the AL West and NL West teams (all in the Far Western US) in the Pacific Coast League (now reduced to its teams in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, as it was most of the time pre-1998).
                  I can certainly appreciate the thought that's gone into your words. I also don't mean to hijack a thread on the Minor League board with a Major League suggestion, but naturally any ideas on MiLB alignment tie in with where MLB teams are located.

                  That said, I can envision a Charlotte franchise. It's the fastest growing market in the east, and there are already close to 2.5 million people in the metro area.

                  New Orleans, however, not only isn't growing, its metro is only about 1.2 million.

                  A better choice would be San Antonio, with 2.5 million and growing fast, but I don't know how the other Texas teams would feel about it. It's almost the same territorial problem a Carolina team will have with Atlanta. Another option is Portland. It's also close to 2.5 million people, and also growing, tho not quite as fast.

                  No market without a franchise, however, is bigger and growing faster than Las Vegas, a territorial no-man's land approaching 3 million residents, making it easily the best choice for a big league team, imho.

                  Without postulating too much on the precise divisional breakdown, I'd prefer the Carolina team in the AL and the Las Vegas team in the NL, but frankly, it's more difficult to align than the other way. Here's what I've come up with:

                  East
                  New York
                  Philadelphia
                  Pittsburgh
                  Washington

                  North
                  Chicago
                  Denver
                  Milwaukee
                  St. Louis

                  South
                  Atlanta
                  Charlotte
                  Cincinnati
                  Miami

                  West
                  Los Angeles
                  Phoenix
                  San Diego
                  San Francisco


                  East
                  Baltimore
                  Boston
                  New York
                  Toronto

                  North
                  Chicago
                  Cleveland
                  Detroit
                  Minneapolis

                  South
                  Dallas
                  Houston
                  Kansas City
                  Tampa Bay

                  West
                  Anaheim
                  Las Vegas
                  Oakland
                  Seattle
                  Put it in the books.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    New Orleans can support baseball. A local college, Tulane, is an NCAA power in the sport.

                    Las Vegas would be out for now because right now there are 8 teams in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. But five of those teams are in the NL. So I want to move Colorado to the AL West to balance things out.

                    I had my South Divisions set up the way I do because of time zone balance issues.
                    The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

                    See my blog for more info.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PF#9 View Post
                      New Orleans can support baseball. A local college, Tulane, is an NCAA power in the sport.

                      Las Vegas would be out for now because right now there are 8 teams in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. But five of those teams are in the NL. So I want to move Colorado to the AL West to balance things out.

                      I had my South Divisions set up the way I do because of time zone balance issues.
                      Well, I just don't see anyone putting an MLB team in New Orleans when there are so many better options available. Not to mention, I can't imagine time zones being more important than profit to anyone involved.

                      But those are just my 2 cents. I don't wanna rain on anyone's parade.
                      Put it in the books.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by milladrive View Post

                        Well, I just don't see anyone putting an MLB team in New Orleans when there are so many better options available. Not to mention, I can't imagine time zones being more important than profit to anyone involved.

                        But those are just my 2 cents. I don't wanna rain on anyone's parade.
                        Personally, I think Portland would be a better fit than New Orleans
                        The Mets have the best, smartest fans in baseball.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by milladrive View Post

                          I can certainly appreciate the thought that's gone into your words. I also don't mean to hijack a thread on the Minor League board with a Major League suggestion, but naturally any ideas on MiLB alignment tie in with where MLB teams are located.

                          That said, I can envision a Charlotte franchise. It's the fastest growing market in the east, and there are already close to 2.5 million people in the metro area.

                          New Orleans, however, not only isn't growing, its metro is only about 1.2 million.

                          A better choice would be San Antonio, with 2.5 million and growing fast, but I don't know how the other Texas teams would feel about it. It's almost the same territorial problem a Carolina team will have with Atlanta. Another option is Portland. It's also close to 2.5 million people, and also growing, tho not quite as fast.

                          No market without a franchise, however, is bigger and growing faster than Las Vegas, a territorial no-man's land approaching 3 million residents, making it easily the best choice for a big league team, imho.

                          Without postulating too much on the precise divisional breakdown, I'd prefer the Carolina team in the AL and the Las Vegas team in the NL, but frankly, it's more difficult to align than the other way. Here's what I've come up with:

                          East
                          New York
                          Philadelphia
                          Pittsburgh
                          Washington

                          North
                          Chicago
                          Denver
                          Milwaukee
                          St. Louis

                          South
                          Atlanta
                          Charlotte
                          Cincinnati
                          Miami

                          West
                          Los Angeles
                          Phoenix
                          San Diego
                          San Francisco


                          East
                          Baltimore
                          Boston
                          New York
                          Toronto

                          North
                          Chicago
                          Cleveland
                          Detroit
                          Minneapolis

                          South
                          Dallas
                          Houston
                          Kansas City
                          Tampa Bay

                          West
                          Anaheim
                          Las Vegas
                          Oakland
                          Seattle
                          Your prospective alignment ideas for divisions is very well thought out.

                          Would you eliminate inter-league play? How would you determine how many games teams would play against divisional opponents and teams in their same league to make a 162 game schedule? FWIW, I say 18 games against the other 3 teams in the same division (54 games) plus 9 games against the other 12 teams in the league (108 games), which would give you 162 games.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Under my proposed 40-team 4-league alignment, the AAA classification would consist of an 18-team International League (based entirely in East Coast states and Eastern Canada, plus Ohio), a 12-team Heartland League (based in the Central Time Zone and the more western portions of the Eastern Time Zone), and a 10-team renamed Pacific Coast League (in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, renamed to avoid confusion with Pacific League).

                            IL schedule format:

                            16 games against each division rival - 80 games
                            6 games against 3 teams in each of the other divisions (rotates every year) - 36 games
                            4 games against 3 teams in each of the other divisions (rotates every year) - 24 games

                            HL schedule format:

                            16 games against each division rival - 80 games
                            10 games against each team in the other division - 60 games

                            Renamed PCL schedule format:

                            20 games against each division rival - 80 games
                            12 games against each team in other division - 60 games

                            IL
                            Northeast
                            Ottawa (Toronto)
                            Providence (Hartford)
                            Quebec City (Montreal)
                            Rochester (Buffalo)
                            Syracuse (NY Mets)
                            Worcester (Boston)

                            Middle Atlantic
                            Columbus (Cleveland)
                            Dayton (Cincinnati)
                            Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia)
                            North Jersey (NY Yankees)
                            Scranton-Wilkes Barre (Pittsburgh)
                            Toledo (Detroit)

                            South
                            Bowie (Washington)
                            Charlotte (Charlotte)
                            Durham (Tampa Bay)
                            Gwinnett (Atlanta)
                            Norfolk (Baltimore)
                            Winston-Salem (Miami)

                            HL
                            East
                            Fort Wayne (Indianapolis)
                            Green Bay (Milwaukee)
                            Lexington (Louisville)
                            Memphis or Nashville (Memphis or Nashville)
                            Rockford (Chicago Sox)
                            Springfield (IL) (St. Louis)

                            West
                            Iowa (Chicago Cubs)
                            New Orleans (Houston)
                            Oklahoma City (Texas)
                            Omaha (Kansas City)
                            Round Rock (San Antonio)
                            Wichita (Minnesota)

                            Renamed PCL
                            Mountain
                            Albuquerque (Colorado)
                            Boise (Portland)
                            El Paso (San Diego)
                            Salt Lake (LA Angels)
                            Tuscon (Arizona)

                            Pacific
                            Fresno (LA Dodgers)
                            Reno (Las Vegas)
                            Sacramento (Oakland)
                            San Jose (San Francisco)
                            Tacoma (Seattle)
                            Last edited by PF#9; 06-28-2020, 01:19 PM.
                            The playoffs should expand eventually, but only if MLB itself expands.

                            See my blog for more info.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PF#9 View Post
                              Under my proposed 40-team 4-league alignment, the AAA classification would consist of an 18-team International League (based entirely in East Coast states and Eastern Canada, plus Ohio), a 12-team Heartland League (based in the Central Time Zone and the more western portions of the Eastern Time Zone), and a 10-team renamed Pacific Coast League (in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, renamed to avoid confusion with Pacific League).
                              This is fantastic and I heartily endorse it.

                              If MLB would adopt my strictly-geography-based realignment and the high minors realigned along these lines, then the only difference from what you laid out above would be who the teams were affiliated with. (Eastern MLB teams would need eastearn-based minor league affiliates, western teams with western affiliates.)
                              "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
                              "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
                              "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
                              "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

                              Comment

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