In anticipation of Reader Appreciation Week, we asked for article submissions for a guest column spot right here on BB&G. We got quite a few worthy submissions from which we’ve selected our three favorite. Thank you to all who entered and congratulations to our selected few. Today’s guest column is particularly radical and I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts in the comments.
By Robb Watters
We are quickly coming up on twenty years since the Pirates have been relevant in the world of Major League Baseball. Blame has been passed around from fired managers to GMs to ownership (and especially) to the lack of salary cap in the league. Many have used the excuse that the Pirates simply can’t win because they either don’t have, or won’t spend, the money needed to compete with the likes of the Mets, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox. Of course, other small market clubs around the league have proven this excuse to be just that–another excuse from jilted fans. We’ve seen teams like Oakland, Minnesota, and Milwaukee become competitive without splurging like Miami seems to do every 6-8 years.
For the Pirates, though, the Billy Bean recipe just isn’t there. We must enter a Major League Baseball twilight zone where the makeup of the league is made to resemble that of soccer’s English Premier League for the Pirates to be successful. In the EPL, the bottom three clubs each year are relegated to the nPower League who then send their top three clubs up. For this to work in baseball, we must forget that minor league clubs are affiliates of the Big League teams and picture them more as independents like the Washington Wild Things. In this scenario, the American and National Leagues would relegate their bottom two clubs each year in exchange for the top two minor league clubs.
Relegation in the Premier League is generally accompanied by disgrace amongst fans, the players, and the ownership, which also tends to result in turnover of employment at all levels. This may be exactly what fledgling organizations like the Pirates need. If nothing else, relegation would give the fans something to cheer about at least every four to five years when the Buccos are competing at the lower level. And let’s face it, what would be better for western Pennsylvania baseball than a rivalry brewed up between the Pirates and the Wild Things?
As this episode of the twilight zone ends, we reenter the real world where the Buccos annually get our hopes up for only a week or two each season, Pedro Alvarez gets to play third base for the only professional club that would let him, and the team is considered a farm system for the playoff competitors round the league to poach from year to year. Relegation will never become a reality in Major League Baseball, but being a lifetime Pirate fan calls for a healthy helping of imagination.