By way of introduction, I am a displaced English Angels fan (think a clipped accent, a militant approach to what makes a good cup of tea and bad teeth - stick to the stereotypes, they usually hold firm). I was born in London, my teenage years were spent in Orange County learning what it was to love a truly wretched baseball team, I returned to Blighty in '93. Think Brian, Wally, Donnie... that sort of era, that sort of pain - a victim of an unconditional, unrequited love that has haunted me ever since. To put it into context, the only live footage I saw of the Angels in the World Series was on the TV behind the counter while being charged at Battersea police station with drunk and disorderly behaviour prior to spending an evening at Her Majesty's pleasure. On my 30th birthday.
The Angels have not given back to me as I have given unto them (though God bless them, they're at least giving it a go these days): the years of mediocrity when I was in California, the 8 hour time delay and maybe 3 live televised Angels game a year since. I am resigned to the fact that it may ever be thus. That is, I suppose, what being a fan is about - caring enough to feel the pain, without any promise of a lasting salve.
My name is The Limey - another displaced Angels fan overseas. Call it the Choir Invisible, I'm part of the London branch.
Since the season is now reduced to wishing ill on other teams (though less so now that the GreenFilth have been sent packing), debating the what-if's of our poor start or pleading for a decent 3B/CF trade without having to gut the pitching corps (I could lose Santana, Saunders or Shields but let's try and keep at least 2 of them for next year), I thought I might offer you a different perspective to take you away from the current joylessness of those first two things and the helplessness of the latter.
I offer a chance to broaden your horizons beyond baseball and see what importing some of the best things about sports with which you are less familiar might do for the game. Some are clearly ridiculous and wouldn't work in a month of Sundays, some may merit consideration. See what you think of them and let me know which ones, if any, you think might work in baseball and I'll write a letter to the commissioner suggesting some changes (which he'll ignore, partly because I'm English and clearly don't understand the game, but mostly because I'm talking rubbish).
Anyway here comes the first...
1. Promotion and relegation
In most European leagues for most sports, if you finish last (or even in the bottom 3 in some cases), you get thrown to the wolves. You get dropped down a tier to the next highest level of professional sports. Mediocrity is punished. To give you an example, Nottingham Forest - an English football team who were champions of Europe twice in the late 70's - now play in the equivalent of AA.
What would that mean for the Angels?
1. Seattle would be playing AAA ball next year, which bearing in mind their failure to take more than a couple of games off the GreenFilth this year, seems appropriate. As would Tampa, KC, Washington, Colorado and the Cubs.
2. All their best players would be sold on / traded to reduce costs in order to survive in AAA - Ichiro, Ibanez, Sexson, Beltre, and then Ramirez, Zambrano, Crawford, etc.... It'll stoke up the hot stove.
3. Every game would be competitive right up to the end of the season - eliminated from the wild-card is one thing, but eliminated from the major leagues? I guarantee that would have focused Seattle's attention in the last month of the season.
I'll offer you another suggestion next time...