For the past week, New York Yankees fans have been pondering the stunning, if not radical, plan that MLB is floating to completely re-align what teams play each other as sports adapt to how to get back to games during the coronavirus pandemic.
This writer has spent days pouring over every story written about the plan. Writers pros and cons, and it got me to thinking what do real Yankee fans feel about all of this? I conducted an informal poll on Facebook Yankee fan groups to see just what the average fan feels about not playing the traditional rivals.
MLB has suggested the possibility of re-aligning divisions into more or less geographic regions. Instead of playing against traditional division rivals, the plan would look more like the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues of spring training.
The plan would be broken down into six divisions: Grapefruit North, which would pit the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The South would include Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles. The East would consist of Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.
The Cactus League would include the Northeast, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics. The West: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels. The Northwest would include Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.
Where any of these games would be played is yet to be determined by MLB. With wanting to get a baseball season this year, those determinations and details will have to be worked out in the next few weeks. An original proposal to have all 30 MLB teams play the whole season in the Pheonix area seems less likely as the coronavirus is slowed and playing in home parks seems more feasible.
Although I am not totally against re-alignment to get in as many games as possible and at the same time protect players and fans, I can’t quite get a handle on how they figured this out. Boston Red Sox in the south? Cleveland Indians in the west? Houston Astros in the East. The only way this makes sense is if a bunch of MLB gurus sat around a big table hashing this out while smoking funny cigarettes.
The results of my poll although unscientific, were quite interesting for several reasons. One is that the number of those in favor of the plan and those against it was pretty well equal, showing that fans may be as unsettled about what to do as the MLB seems to be. 54% don’t like the plan, and 38% are in favor of it. What surprised me was that usually when I put forth a poll, people vote, and that’s it. In this poll, New York Yankee fans not only voted but commented on the subject heavily.
In one of the Facebook Yankee groups, Yankee Fans R us!! for which I am an administrator, the group owner Michael Miracco said: “We have interleague play anyway, they’re all MLB teams.” A moderator Mark Walsh noted in greater detail:
” I don’t know what to think, you’re taking Boston and Tampa Bay out of our division. To me that means we won’t play them except maybe in a postseason. Since when is Boston in the South. At the end of the day, if it’s only for this year, I can deal with it.”
That brings me to the other group represented in the poll. Those that would agree, if not wholeheartedly, to the plan, if it was the only way we could have a baseball season (8%). Many were citing; we just want to have some New York Yankee baseball to watch.
Although it was not reflected in the voting, many Yankee fans said they are more concerned about the player’s health, and the season should be canceled altogether in favor of starting fresh in 2021. Those that responded that way, however, are definitely in the minority. Most all will be satisfied with not attending games but want some ball played in the near future. Whatever it takes!
On a side note, many New York Yankee fans still feel cheated by the Houston Astros, and feel Commission Rob Manfred failed when he didn’t strip the Astros of their World Series title and rings. That dissatisfaction with Manfred seems to have carried over to most of those same fans now, citing that they are become more disgruntled with him and wish he would leave baseball alone.
This writer tends to agree with that. I feel to have a legitimate season this year; we need to wait until it is safe to have a traditional albeit shortened season and play in the conventional divisions at the team’s home stadiums. The re-alignment proposed with not significantly cut down on air travel, that is mostly done on chartered flights anyway. What it will do is make a season that will be totally illegitimate with a World Championship that will be, for the most part, meaningless.