With all the expansion talk floating around MLB these days, Jayson Stark of The Athletic explores what the league might look like with 32 teams instead of 30. Though his suggestion that the postseason has the potential to expand to 16 teams seems comical, Stark does provide some useful insight into which cities could get new teams. Additionally, his dive into how divisions could realign, how the playoff format could change, and why MLB might shorten the schedule to 154 games in the process all spark some opportunity for some interesting debate. Stark’s article ends with a bold assertion that all of this is a matter of when, not if.
A couple of other interesting items…
- MLB owners have engaged in interesting discussions on gambling in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of the federal ban on sports betting (as David Waldstein of the New York Times writes). Commissioner Rob Manfred has reportedly said that it’s vital steps be taken in order to ensure the integrity of the game, but also indicated that baseball would like a share of the profits from betting on the sport. With states now allowed to make their own decisions in regard to sports gambling, it’s interesting to note that the potential expansion for MLB could provide some incentive expansion-hopeful states to be loose with betting regulations.
- One of baseball’s most intangible qualities may be a little more tangible than we think, according to Ben Rowen of The Atlantic. A number of research groups are embarking upon a mission to quantify team chemistry, once deemed the Holy Grail of performance analytics by Harvard Business Review. Some methods described involve collection of biometrics, advanced mathematics, and even “anthropological forrays into the clubhouse.” One particularly interesting strategy seems to be looking for places in which advanced performance metrics and player intangibles are “at odds”. The whole piece is well worth a read; it doesn’t provide much in the way of firm evidence but it certainly presents some interesting opportunities for research and offers some optimism that team chemistry could potentially be quantified and used to bring about a competitive advantage.