The Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff reached a milestone in the 127th game of the season. That assemblage gave up its 258th HR for the season and that ties the record in all of MLB history for “number of HRs allowed by a team in a single season”. Please note that there are 35 games left on the Orioles’ schedule; it is a good bet that this pitching staff will set a new standard. In case you are wondering, the projection is that the Orioles will allow 329 HRs this year.
Rather than mock the Orioles’ staff for its inability to keep the ball in the ballpark, let me use this stat to make a serious point regarding MLB expansion. From a fan perspective, there is a real allure to the idea that MLB might expand to 32 teams putting 16 teams in each league thereby allowing for more balanced scheduling and limited inter-league play. From an owners’ perspective, there is the allure of humongous franchise fees to be divvied up and possibly greater TV rights fees down the road as two new markets acquire “local heroes”.
Every yin has its yang, however, and the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff is a great example of the “yang” here. The Orioles are fielding the equivalent of a Triple-A pitching staff and that staff is being lit up on a nightly basis. In addition to setting a record for HRs allowed this season, the Orioles have given up 805 runs so far this year (6.34. runs per game). That is 68 more runs allowed than the next most forgiving pitching staff (Rockies).
Now consider that the typical MLB roster carries 12 pitchers. If there were 2 new teams, that would create the need to find 24 more pitchers to play in the major leagues. There are simply not enough quality pitchers available; adding two teams would be akin to adding two more “Orioles’ pitching staffs” to the major leagues. I suggest that is not the path to the future that MLB should select.
The XFL 2.0 continues its trek to become an actual sports entity. This week, the league announced the locations and the names of its 8 franchises:
- Dallas Renegades
- DC Defenders
- Houston Roughnecks
- LA Wildcats
- NY Guardians
- Seattle Dragons
- St. Louis BattleHawks
- Tampa Bay Vipers
The franchise placement strategy here is interesting by comparison with the late – but not lamented – AAF placement strategy. The AAF put teams mainly in places where there was football interest but no incumbent NFL team (Birmingham, Orlando, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego). Note that XFL 2.0 will have 7 of its 8 teams in markets where there is an existing NFL franchise and 1 team – in St. Louis – where there was formerly an NFL team. I am not suggesting that the viability of XFL 2.0 will hinge on where the teams are located; clearly, its survival will depend on the quality of their football product and the amount of “football interest” that remains in the viewing public after the Super Bowl.
The draft for XFL 2.0 will take place in October 2019; as of this morning, the league has exactly 1 player under contract. That would be former Steelers’ QB, Landry Jones. The league will play a 10-game regular season starting in February 2020 with a 2-week post-season in the Spring of 2020. The league is conducting test games with small colleges to try out some rules it hopes to implement:
- Forward laterals allowed: This means there can be more than one forward pass on a play, and it would seem to mean that offensive linemen behind the line of scrimmage would be eligible receivers. I will need a tutorial by the league in the early games to understand all the implications of this rule. [I don’t know enough to know if I like this rule or not.]
- No PATs: After a TD, the scoring team will opt to run a play from the 2-yardline or the 5-yardline or the 10-yardline. If successful, those tries would be worth 1, 2 or 3 points depending on the scrimmage line chosen. [I do like this rule.]
- Speeding up the game: There will be an official added to the crew whose job it is to place the ball ASAP to speed up play. Players who commit procedural fouls – offside – will need to sit out a play and have a sub entered into the game. [These rules evoke a giant “Meh! From me.]
- Timing rules: There will be a 25-second play clock and until the time of the two-minute warning, the clock will run continuously stopping only when there is a change of possession – – which will allow for commercial breaks on the telecast. Instant replay reviews will be 30 seconds long. [I like the instant replay time limit; I think I will like the continuously running clock; I wonder if 25-seconds is too short for the play clock. These are interesting.]
- Special Teams Rule Variants: There will be no fair catches; the league here will emulate the CFL on punt returns. There will be kickoff returns in XFL 2.0 because the proposed placement of the ball for kickoffs is the kicking team’s 15-yardline. [I’ll reserve judgement here, if I may…]
Let the games begin …
Finally, since XFL 2.0 is trying to look at football from a different perspective, consider this Tweet from Brad Dickson regarding the use of a different perspective:
“In Texas the oldest man in the U.S. has died at 112. He attributed his long life to a daily cigar & shot of whiskey. You know, I’ve been doing this healthy living thing all wrong.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………