Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Demote the A's to the minors and promote THE IRON PIGS

The Oakland Athletics are acting like a minor league team and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are drawing like a major league team.

So for the next few years I think the A's should be a AAA team and the IronPigs should play in the American League.

Bear with me.

It isn't even New Year's Day and the A's have waved the white flag for 2012.

They traded two of the most valuable chips in baseball, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, both former All Star pitchers in their mid 20s and under contractual control for a few years. And in exchange they got prospects prospects and more prospects.

A. J. Cole, Derek Norris, Brad Peacock and Tom Milone were four of the gems in the Nationals farm system.

Jarrod Parker and Collin Cowgill are top prospects who already have post season experience with Arizona.

Chances are they aren't about to add to their post season totals in Oakland.

In fact the entire organization seems to be just hanging around waiting for the inevitable move to San Jose. They aren't going to draw in the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever it is called.) They won't have a decent TV contract. They won't be putting major leaguers on the field. And they have no intention of contending.

They weren't the worst team in baseball in 2011. Hell, they weren't even the worst team in their division. (That honor goes to the Mariners.)

But if they are going to put a minor league product on the field in a lousy ballpark, then they should play in the minor leagues!

If fans in the Bay Area want to see a big league club, then go across the Bay Bridge and see the Giants.

So while the A's are a major league team acting like a minor league team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are a minor league team acting like they are the big leagues!

Unlike the A's, ALL of their home games are televised. Unlike the A's, ALL of their games are broadcast on the ESPN radio affiliate.

And unlike the A's, they play in a state of the art stadium, Coca Cola Park in Allentown Pennsylvania. It holds 10,000 fans and they drew nearly that each game. Supposedly the A's drew around 18,000 a game in 2011. But if you happened to catch an A's game on TV, there is no way there were that many people at each game.

I doubt Coca Cola Park needs to put a tarp in the upper deck.

And between the A's and the Pigs, there is only one person in uniform that most people have heard of.
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is the manager of the Pigs.

And he was the Baseball America Manager of the Year leading Lehigh Valley to the championship round of the Governor's Cup.

Ryno deserves a shot to manage in the Majors. Why not with the Pigs?

Look me in the eye and tell me that the people of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton PA wouldn't fill the stadium every night.

Tell me that IronPigs merchandise wouldn't be flying off of the shelves.

The good folks of Oakland, Berkeley, Pleasanton, Hayward and Fremont seem to be indifferent about the A's these days.

And it would only be temporary. Soon the A's will be in San Jose and the A's will be a big league product.

And the novelty of major league baseball in Lehigh Valley would wear off in a few years.

But for the next two or three seasons, switch the Pigs and A's.

Stomper the Elephant will perform for AAA teams.

Pork Chop the Iron Pig will be in the Big Leagues for a short time.

What would this mean to the Phillies, who use the IronPigs as a AAA affiliate? And what about Sacramento River Cats, who are the A's AAA affiliate?

What if the Phillies need to recall a player? Or an IronPig needs to be sent down? Or a Sacramento player has warranted a promotion?

Maybe a RiverCat can be sent to Lehigh Valley.
Or maybe an Oakland Athletic can, for the seasons they are a AAA team can be sent to Philadelphia. That would be nice symmetry going back to the Philadelphia Athletics days.

And if this arrangement bothers you and seems illogical and will cause you to write an angry post in the comment section... relax. This isn't really happening.

But it should.

Follow sullybaseball on Twitter


  1. J How?6:19 PM

    Demote the last place team and promote the first place team in triple A. That's kind of how soccer works throughout the world (except in the MLS).

    The Freakonomics blog just had an article on this topic. Allow the market to structure sports leagues rather than letting a centralized organization decide which teams stay in the first division.

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  3. I did a piece about this for my own blog. I looked at the 7 teams that won division titles in Triple-A ball, dropped the one with the worst record, arranged them geographically, and came up with a soccer-style relegation-and-promotion:

    Relegated: Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, Florida (now Miami) Marlins, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres.

    Promoted: Pawtucket Red Sox (as bad as their parent club finished this year, the Triple-A team, outside Providence, gives some hope for the near future), Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly Omaha Royals), Sacramento River Cats, Durham Bulls, Columbus Clippers, Round Rock Express (outside Austin, Texas).

  4. Hey Sully,

    Great post - we sure do enjoy our IronPigs and they certainly field a quality product all the way around!

    Just one small thing though. There was actually quite a controversy when the original mascot's name of Pork Chop was revealed. Since that time he is now known as Ferrous. (just for the record lol)

    First beer is on me if you ever find your way to Coca Cola Park!

    DiPro's Dish
    Noise Nation IronPigs Fan Blog

  5. It all makes no sense to me and it hurts me as an A's fan. I will stay with them because they are my team but I cannot have any expectations for next year. I'm excited about Rollie Fingers bobblehead day and that's about all. I hate how they say they are making moves to prepare for an eventual move that hasn't even been approved and now seems to be further from becoming approved.

    Others argue that they wouldn't be able to compete with the Angels and Rangers this year anyway so might as well trade their players. That's the dumbest excuse I've ever heard.

    As for Sandberg, the Cubs screwed him over as he should be their manager.

  6. Matt Metal11:35 AM

    Being a life long A's fan here in the greater LV, really? The Iron Pigs with one good year under their belt as a team? The team supported by the Phillies? Seriously, the A's have had their issues and I saw these trades coming months ago. Keep the Iron Pigs in perspective on who and what they really are. A Minor League ballteam that provides our area with cheap entertainment and baseball. Nothing more and nothing less. Oakland will regroup. They have put together some nice young talent. Let's see where they take this. They sure aren't the Pirates.

  7. Matt Metal. Exactly how serious did you think I was?

  8. Anonymous1:04 PM

    I know you're not really serious, but relegation in American sports is fun to think about. I don't know enough about the European soccer leagues to have a good sense of how feasible it is for relegated teams to get back up to the highest levels of competition. I also don't think most Triple A teams, even the best division champs, would fair very well against most MLB teams.

  9. Anonymous10:29 PM

    Hindsight can be a real bitch, can't it? That IronPig rounding the base there happens to be a member of the 2012 West Division Champion Oakland Athletics...

  10. I like the Iron pigs and it is pretty curious the story behind the selection of a pig as their mascot