There have been some very bad sport franchises over the past ten years. Cincinnati Bengals. Sacramento Kings. Florida Marlins. Can you imagine the New York Yankees being relegated to the minors after a bad season? The entire organization?
The pin stripes would come to be known as the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees. All players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, and ball boys, would hop a bus to their new digs in upstate Pennsylvania. No more unlimited buckets of sunflower seeds in the dugout. Players would have to stop off at the corner Quick-e-Mart to buy their own bag instead. 3-hour chartered plane trips for road games would be replaced with 12-hour chartered bus trips. Per diem fun money would be exchanged with fast food vouchers. Non-transferrable food vouchers. After a season of “sub-par” living conditions in the minors, I’m sure it would muster enough motivation for players to bring their A-game every night, and play with a sense of urgency and pride.
Soccer leagues throughout the world utilize this exact promotion/relegation system to reward the good…and punish the bad.
Most notably, the English Premiere League, conducts business this way. A form of parity. Fair and equal parity. It’s quite simple. Play well and stay in the top division. Play bad, and as the Brits say, “cheerio chap!” Your team wants to lolly-gag through the season and mail it in? Off to the second division so they can find themselves. Owners are content that their team is bottom feeding every year? Let’s see how fat and happy GM’s will be promoting their team with a payroll the size of Fannie Mae. After the market crashed. Give a team everything, and they’ll lay down on you from time to time. Give a team nothing, and they’ll run through a brick wall for you.
Case in point. A player get’s paid a $100 million dollar contract to catch, throw, or kick a ball. His motivation? His bank account. You paid said player to get you to the top of the mountain. Not to hang out at the mountain’s base camp. So team loses consistently. Team gets relegated. Team loses sponsors. Team loses endorsements. Team stadium forced to change name from Bank of America Ballpark to Chico’s Bailbonds Field. Team can’t afford players. Team voids contract. Owner becomes depressed. Owner sells team. Get the picture? Relegation can get really, really ugly.
Last month in Argentina’s top soccer division, historic team River Plate was relegated to the second division for the first time in its 110-year existence, sparking riots between police and fans. River Plate was forced into a playoff and needed to win in order to stave off relegation. They tied 1-1 and were consequently demoted. Violence erupted moments before the match was over. Angry fans pelted players with objects from the stands, and police replied with high-powered fire hoses with some fans climbing fences topped with razor wire.
Another under achieving season by Dallas Cowboy QB Tony Romo and his band of brothers, and Jerry Jones may have to bunker down at the Death Star (Cowboy Stadium) and call out the Texas National Guard for protection.
Could you imagine the Boston Red Sox being relegated to the Triple-A Appalachian League? The L.A. Lakers demoted to the NBA-D League? Or how about the Detroit Red Wings playing in the American Hockey League?
It’ll never happen. Another meaningless 130-day lockout would ensue. But I’d pay a kings ransom to see A-Rod step off a Greyhound bus for a meal at the Waffle House, halfway through an excruciating 18-hour bus trip to play in Pawtucket!