That’s what would happen if these baseball franchises were in another realm (and things were not complicated by the Astros changing leagues).
Followers of international soccer are familiar with the concept of relegation and promotion.
It’s more of a foreign concept in the United States.
Relegation is a sports league format with multiple leagues and teams moving up and down based on season records.
In some countries and at certain levels, teams in-line for promotion may have to satisfy certain non-playing conditions in order to be accepted by the higher league, such as financial solvency, stadium capacity and facilities. If these are not satisfied, a lower-ranked team may be promoted in their place, or a team in the league above may be saved from relegation.
The English Premier League and most of the soccer universe, including teams in central and south America, employ the relegation/promotion model rather than the major league/minor league system used in the U.S.
In the EPL, the bottom three teams in the 20-team circuit go down to the Championship for the next season. Conversely, the top Championship teams move up to the more prestigious and lucrative EPL.
Below the top two tiers, English soccer also has League One and League Two with opportunities to climb up or slide down.
It is a system that is embraced in Britain. Talk of change is met with stern opposition.
“It’s go to be competitive, every club has got to have the ambition to get to the Premier League, that’s why our league is so good,” Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan said back in 2011. “(Getting rid of relegation and promotion) is an appalling suggestion. It would ruin and kill English football.”
Can you imagine if Major League Baseball – or even the National Football League or National Basketball Association – adopted this concept?
In baseball, teams would fall from the American League or National League down to the minors.
Chicago Cubs meet the Iowa Cubs.
The NFL could send its bottom feeders to some sort of lower level or even to the Canadian Football League.
Jacksonville Jaguars meet the Montreal Alouettes.
If you can’t hang in the NBA, you get sent to the D-League.
Charlotte Bobcats meet the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
In the relegation/promotion arrangement, there is more of a sense of urgency. Finishing near the bottom of the heap really means something so teams fight tooth and nail in an attempt to stay away from the basement and the loss of revenue and glory that comes with that low-lying spot.
These teams don’t play out the string or tank games to get higher draft picks. They are fighting just to stay in the higher league.
There is no incentive to lose. Every game or match counts.
If college or high school adopted this plan, the whole conference shuffle would really get crazy.
For the sake of argument, let’s say there are six major college conferences – the Big Ten, Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10.
If you are a doormat in one of these this season, next year you will be packing your bags for places like the MAC, Missouri Valley or Mountain West.
Rule one of those “mid-majors” and the next thing you know you are trading blows with the big boys.
Akron Zips meet the Indiana Hoosiers.
We won’t pick on the high school have-nots here.
Relegation and promotion not likely to happen in U.S. sports anytime soon.
But it’s fun to think about.