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If you ever think MLB is disorganized ...
2006-05-24 11:47
by Bob Timmermann

You should read about the lack of unity among baseball leagues in Japan.

Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri writes of the problems that Japan's two leagues are having in trying to reconcile their methods of choosing a champion.

Japan, like the U.S., has two leagues: the Central and the Pacific. Unlike MLB, the two leagues operate somewhat autonomously. Presently, they have different methods of choosing their champions. The PL has its top three teams face off in a playoff tournament. The second and third place teams face off in a best of three and the winner faces the champion in a best of five. The winner moves on to the Japan Series.

The CL has no playoffs unless there is a tie for first. And there has never been a tie for first as Japanese teams usually pick up enough ties (which are not replayed) to make that mathematically unlikely.

According to Allen, the CL proposal for the 2007 postseason was to have the top two teams in each leagues meet in the postseason, but in a crossover fashion: CL #1 vs PL #2 and CL #2 vs PL #1. Then the winners of those series would meet in the Japan Series. As Allen points, out that would set up the possibility of a Japan Series matching Japan's two most popular teams (both in the CL) of the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers. It be would like a Yankees-Red Sox World Series.

While that may be interesting, that's not all that likely as the Giants and Tigers have not been in many pennant races against each other in recent years, although they are 1-2 now.

Not surprisingly, the Pacific League doesn't like this proposal. A PL team has won the last three Japan Series and it's been a different team each time. The PL has long been the poor stepchild of Japanese baseball as it's teams don't have the same level of fan support and the weight of history behind them. The PL started its playoff system to heighten interest in late season games. And its playoff series keep its teams sharp while the CL champ sits around for three weeks waiting for the Japan Series to start.

The Central League needs to work on helping out its less popular teams (Yakult, Yokohama, and Hiroshima) and making the league more competitive.

Allen has some other good points about the problems of the Central League, such as why in the world it refuses to let teams announce who will be the starting pitcher ahead of time.

All of this makes MLB's setup of 16 teams in one league and 14 in another along with unbalanced schedules seem quite equitable.

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