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Sternberg favors more teams in playoffs

Posted Mar 12, 2010 by Tribune Sports

Updated Mar 13, 2010 at 07:20 AM

As badly as the Rays faded late last year, they almost surely would have gone to the postseason if they hadn’t had to play the Yankees and Red Sox a combined 36 times and there had been a couple more wild-card teams in each league.

So it folllows that Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg, whose team finished with the eight-best record in the AL last year, would advocate an additional playoff round and a balanced schedule that puts the Rays on equal footing with the teams from outside the American League East with which they’re competing for a playoff berth.

Asked Friday on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel what he would recommend if he were on baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s committee for on-field matters, Sternberg said he’d like to see changes that would make it less daunting to compete with the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox.

Sternberg pointed out that the Rays can only make the playoffs if they finish ahead of the Yankees or Red Sox and that they’re competing for a wild-card berth with teams that don’t have to play the AL East’s difficult lineup.

“And then you go from the Blue Jays’ standpoint or the Orioles’ standpoint this year; they’ve got to play the Yankees, Red Sox and us 54 times,” Sternberg told host Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo. “It’s next to impossible to even think about a wild-card when you’ve got that sort of competition.”

“... So the first thing I would like to see is a more balanced schedule. I don’t think you could ever go or would go to a completely blanaced one, but a more balanced schedule. I’d like to see teams added into the wild-card format where you’ve got another round of playoffs, maybe only a two-out-of-three, and it gives an advantage to the teams that win the division or the conference, however it straightens out, where they get a bye.

“You know, I guess similar to football and, in some respects, basketball, if you took some sort of hybrid.”

Sternberg also was asked whether he thinks baseball is a “healthy endeavor” currently.

He said it’s healthy compared to 10 years ago and relative to the current ecconomy, but “where it’s headed over the next 10 years could be problematic because of the separation from the haves and the have-nots.”

“When I say that,” Sternberg said, “you’ve got a team with, let’s say, $200 million in revenues and another team with $50 million in revenues. If they each go up 10 percent - if my revenues are commensurate with the Yankees’, Red Sox’, Cubs’, whoever - if we each go up 10 percent, their 10 percent is three times or two times or five times my 10 percent.

“And every year that goes on. If you compound money or whatnot, it’s like a guy who is worth more money has more money in interest every year.”

Sternberg said the big-market teams are running their businesses better, making the task even tougher for franchises such as the Rays.

“You know, we came into this and were able to trade veterans for young players and pick up those guys,” Sternberg said. “We can’t do it anymore. It’s just not there. The Yankees don’t want to give up young guys. The Red Sox, the Cubs, nobody wants to anymore. Even the teams with money.

“So it’s going to get harder and harder. I think it’s very important that in this next (labor) negotiation, and internally with MLB, that we address some of the things that are upcoming and try to have the teams who are sort of the have-nots have a better chance.”

—Tony Fabrizio



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