The buzz around the state of Maryland right now of course is the University of Maryland moving it’s academic teams to the Big 10 Conference starting in the 2014 athletic season. For the record, I didn’t ever want to see Maryland leave the ACC (a conference of which it’s a founding member). I love the traditions of the ACC in both football and basketball in terms of the history, the rivalries, etc. However I also recognize that the ACC has never really warmed to Maryland, even granted that they were a founding member. Of late, the conference has shown relatively no respect to founding members such as Duke, UNC, Maryland, and UVA; so given the deal the Big 10 was giving them, why stay?
Similarly, baseball is a game that’s based largely on tradition. How would Baltimore Orioles fans react to drastic changes as such if they came to the O’s or to the game itself? To draw a parallel, would Orioles’ fans accept being in a division other than the American League East? If baseball ever realigned the divisions or something along those lines, that’s one change that I feel most Orioles fans would probably accept. It would mean that they’d only play Boston and New York between six and eight times a year as opposed to 19. How about scrapping the DH and going back to pitchers hitting? Again, that’s a drastic change that I feel many people would accept. However going back to the Big 10 thing, it’s definitely causing an uproar among Maryland fans (myself included). Are there moves that could be made in baseball that would cause a similar brouhaha?
- Instant replay has long been a lightning bolt issue. Speaking for myself, I’m in favor of it. I’ve always considered myself a purist, however people that are supposedly more pure than I would probably be standing on their soapboxes screaming if instant replay was expanded. It would certainly remove some of the human element from the game. However it’s also fair to say that the level of competence has seemingly gone down among umpires. Back in the 1950′s we didn’t have umps that wanted to be part of the story of the game like we do now. So while having replay would certainly be a change, perhaps it’s with good reason.
- One thing into which the NFL seems to look into more so than does MLB is foreign expansion. However it’s something that’s been discussed. In 2012 MLB opened the season with a series in Japan between the Mariners and A’s. The Boston Red Sox did the same thing a few years ago. Many people have wondered if MLB would ever consider putting a team in Japan, or anywhere else. Granted there’s already one in Canada, so in that sense it’s somewhat international. However I think that a portion of fans would be pretty livid if they ever did that. First off, it’s an American league. However think of the travel nightmares that would ensue by having to go overseas to play a three-game series…
- …expansion in general can be a hot button issue. I think baseball’s perfect as it is, however it seems that there’s always some city someplace that thinks it should have a team. I would submit the NHL and NBA as examples where there are too many teams in obscure places. The Oklahoma City Thunder has definitely thrived since they’ve been there, however in general should a city that size have a pro team? The same can be said of the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. Those sports have too many teams in my view. I highly doubt baseball wants to get into that situation.
Sports will always have to walk a fine line between tradition and the concept of the future. Ultimately, money talks; end of story. In Maryland’s case, the athletic department is already in the red. So why are they paying the ACC $49 million in exit fees to leave the conference? It’s pretty easy when the Under Armour corporation is picking up the tab. Again, money talks. No matter what your fans think, if there are billions of dollars at stake even a tradition-laden institution such as a sport is going to err on the side of the cash. But that doesn’t mean anyone has to like it, or like the circumstances that led to it happening. And yes for the record Atlantic Coast Conference, I’m pinning this on you. Perhaps if you hadn’t treated Maryland like garbage for most of your existence, you wouldn’t be losing a storied university and a founding member of your conference.