The College Football Playoff Needs to Expand to Eight Teams

I think you get the gist of the “what” this article will be about from the title, so allow me to elaborate the “how” and “why” we need an 8-team NCAA College Football Playoff.

50% of the 2017-17 season’s College Football Playoff was composed of teams from the Southeastern Conference. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, it could certainly be argued that the committee put them in the final four based off of their records and the prestige of the conference instead of their actual body of work. Yes, those two SEC teams in the playoff, Alabama and Georgia, both bested their opponents and made it to the championship game, but was the SEC really the best conference?

If we assume that the SEC was the best conference, then there’s no real issue and we can all sleep soundly knowing that the best team in the country, Alabama, earned their championship fair and square. But what if the SEC wasn’t the best conference? What if we look at the Big Ten’s 7-1 bowl record versus the SEC’s 5-6, and decide that the Big Ten was the best conference. The Big Ten did not have a presence in the College Football Playoff because the committee decided its top teams had too many losses. However, you can make a strong argument that the top Big Ten teams (Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State) all had losses because the conference as a whole was so formidable. If this was truly the case, then the Playoff Committee failed in their jobs by punishing the Big Ten for being a competitive conference. In contrast, the SEC had a clear trio of teams (Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn) leading a conference full of disappointing mediocrity. The Big Ten also wins the “eye test” over the SEC. That championship game? Ugly. Compare that to the Big Ten’s bowl wins; most of those were well-played games where the Big Ten teams established themselves clearly as the better team. It’s hard to watch the dominant Big Ten performances from December 2017 and think that the Playoff Committee was correct in leaving out the Big Ten champion from the playoff.Then there’s also the issue of the UCF Knights. They ended the season undefeated. Did they have the toughest schedule in the world? Absolutely not. However, you could tell by watching them play that UCF was fielding a spectacularly good team. Unfortunately, the Playoff Committee displayed clear Power Five bias by not even ranking UCF in the top ten at the end of the season. Then what happened in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day? The Knights defeated Auburn convincingly, ending their season unbeaten with a win against an SEC team who themselves held wins over half the playoff field. Uncertainty over relative conference strengths. Power conference bias. Too much sway in the hands of the committee. These are all issues, and they can all be downplayed with a properly-formatted eight-team playoff. Here’s how it would work: each of the “Power Five” (the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big XII) conferences’ will receive a bid. The highest-ranked non-power conference champion will also receive a bid. The remaining bids (normally 2, but it could be 3 if no non-power team is ranked) will go to the three next highest-ranked teams who do not already have bids. The bracket will then be assembled based off of teams’ ranks. Conceivably, this would result in the #1 ranked team in the country playing the non-power team most of the time.

If this playoff system has been in place this year, the first round would have looked like this:

1) Clemson [#1] vs. 8) UCF [#13]

2) Oklahoma [#2] vs. 7) USC [#8]

3) Georgia [#3] vs. 6) Wisconsin [#6]

4) Alabama [#4] vs. 5) Ohio State [#5]

UCF was the highest-ranked non-power team. Auburn was ranked 7th, but since USC was a Power Five conference champion, they would get in over Auburn despite being ranked 8th. This system would make the “which conference is the best” discussion irrelevant since all major conferences would be represented. It would also give non-power conferences a chance to prove themselves and take less of the decision-making (or chance to mess up, so-to-speak) out of the hands of the Playoff Committee.

There will be many calls for a College Football Playoff expansion after how this 2017-18 bowl season turned out. Hopefully this helped explain some of the reasoning.

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What Should the US Soccer Federation Try to Accomplish in 2018?

It’s 2018 now, and with the incumbent Sunil Gulati out of contention for the United States Soccer Federation’s presidency, the election in February is sure to bring about significant change in US Soccer. Obviously, the failure of the US Men’s National Team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was embarrassing, but it also brought national attention to the garbage fire that currently is US Soccer.

I suppose we should first acknowledge that not everything within US Soccer is a complete mess. The US Women’s National Team is the reigning World Cup champion, and they continued to dominate in recent fixtures. However, other problems within the women’s game in the US exist, most notably the low salaries within the National Women’s Soccer League which discourages some of the best female soccer players in high school and college from seeing soccer (and by extension, playing for the national team) as a viable career option. Luckily, NWSL salaries are steadily increasing (albeit slowly), and as more income is brought into the NWSL from sources like their partnership with A+E Networks, those numbers will surely increase further. The other issue with the NWSL is attendance, but the 10-team league is still young. As the clubs get their finances in order and make themselves a part of their local communities, attendance figures ought to grow.

The main, glaring manifestation of the USSF’s problems is the ineptitude of the USMNT, but the solution to this issue is a lot more complicated than just saying, “oh well, the current players are all washed up. We need a better coach and new faces.” That thinking may not necessarily be incorrect, but the United States needs to make a concerted effort to reevaluate the entire domestic pyramid. We can see Major League Soccer gaining traction, but MLS doesn’t develop young players as well is ought to. It also still isn’t quite up to the level of competition it needs to be to keep the USMNT’s players in world-class form. That’s why better American players often choose to play in European leagues.

As always, all comes down to money. The United States has a massive population, the third most in the world. All we have to do is find eleven kids in our populace of over 300 million and train them up to be world-class soccer players. That’s it. It sounds so simple. So why isn’t it so simple?

In most other countries around the world, soccer is the most popular sport by far. Here in the United States, soccer isn’t even in the top 4. While soccer doesn’t need to be the most popular sport in America, it needs to be popular enough that when kids get to that age where they have to decide which sport they want to devote most of their time to play, a greater-than-current proportion of those kids choose soccer. But how would you go about doing this? Well, the easiest answer is money.

If there are enough high-paying “jobs” aka salaried positions on soccer teams as players, coaches, or training staff, then more people will feel obliged to play soccer. Major League Soccer can only get so big. Currently, it’s at 23 teams and set to expand to 28, but it’s hard to imagine the league growing to a number much larger than thirty. With a fair number of roster slots going to international players, there is a very finite number of places for Americans on MLS rosters. Also, although MLS salaries are increasing steadily much like the NWSL’s, the minimum salary in MLS is currently $53k, much lower than other top-level American sports leagues.

Luckily, soccer isn’t like the NFL or NBA where there can really only be one league paying liveable salaries out to its players. Soccer can have many, many teams, and, using England as an example, there is reason to believe that salaries around or greater than national average can reach down as far as the fourth division. Mind you, soccer is quite a bit more popular in England than it is in the US, but recent surging attendances around the United States from teams like Atlanta United FC and FC Cincinnati show how there is a genuine interest in the sport. If you create well-run, well-marketed soccer clubs in the right towns, people will come. So to recap, that attendance translates into income for the clubs, and income translates into the ability to pay higher salaries, and higher salaries attract more young athletes to the game of soccer.

So, to answer the title of this textwall, the main, imperative goal of the USSF in 2018 is thus: HELP DEVELOP THE LOWER DIVISIONS.

And no, there doesn’t need to be a promotion and relegation system between Major League Soccer and the lower leagues in order for this to happen. All the pyramid needs are stable lower leagues. Under the leadership of Sunil Gulati, we’ve seen the crumbling of the former second division league, the NASL. It’s true that the USL has seen immense growth in the same timeframe, but that’s just comparing healthy apples to rotten apples. The fact of the matter is that we could have had two baskets of healthy apples, and instead, we have one healthy basket and one rotten basket.

With the USL Division III and the National Independent Soccer Association launching in the next couple of years and the fourth-division NPSL growing still, the USSF needs to make a concerted effort to help these leagues get off to a good start in whatever ways they need help. If that means stepping in to talk to local leaders to get stadium deals done, the USSF needs to go do that. If it means setting up an advising office specifically tailored to take questions from lower division front offices, the USSF needs to go do that. It the USSF needs to go make a grandiose ad-campaign with commercials saying something along the lines of “hey we really messed up the past few years, but you can help us fix it by supporting lower soccer,” then so be it, the USSF needs to go do that, too.

In 2018, the USMNT will be rebuilding. We should not expect amazing results from them because the team is likely to be young and inexperienced. They’ll probably lose most of their matches. That’s okay. The important thing is that they’re learning, and as soccer supporters, we need to accept that it’ll be an entire year or two before there’s a respectable product on the field.

However, as US soccer fans, we have to do our paramount duty this year to make any progress possible: go to soccer matches. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to an MLS match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a USWNT match at Red Bull Arena, or a fourth division match on a cold, rainy night in Minnesota. Get out there. If we get out there and show the world that we care, eventually we’ll have a soccer federation we can be proud of.

 

 

Only One Will Remain: Here Are Our 2017-18 College Football Playoff Predictions

It all comes down to this. In this fourth edition of the College Football Playoff, the two semifinal games are composed of the New Year’s Day matchups of #1 Clemson vs. #4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl alongside #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl. The winners of these two semifinal games will then play in the National Championship Game on January 8th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Sugar Bowl Prediction: Clemson 31, Alabama 28

This game will probably be tighter than last year’s title game where Clemson edged out ‘Bama 35-31. Neither team is any worse than last year defensively, but Clemson no longer has Deshaun Watson (as he is in the NFL with the Texans now). Besides a flukey loss at Syracuse and a close early-season win against Auburn, Clemson has handily won every game they’ve played this year. Their recent annihilation of a decent Miami team in the ACC Championship Game is especially notable. On the other hand, the Crimson Tide struggled at times against mid-level Mississippi State and Texas A&M squads, and they also lost to the Auburn team which Clemson beat.

Expect this game to be a chess match between two grandmaster coaches. The first half will probably be slow and methodical with both teams content to go into halftime with a close or tied score. The second half ought to ramp up with less conservative playcalling and more passing. Both teams have ample amounts of playmakers and either could win in the end, but the stats seem to favor the Tigers.

Clemson in a close one.

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Rose Bowl Prediction: Georgia 41, Oklahoma 35

This game is going to be a shootout. Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning QB Baker Mayfield ought to absolutely light up UGA’s defense. On the other hand, OU’s defense, while benefiting from the relatively long time they’ve had to prepare for this game, probably wouldn’t be able to effectively defend against the two-headed dragon of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in Georgia’s backfield even if they had all the time in the world.

Both teams will be able to move the ball against each other. There will probably be a lot of moments where both teams defenses look hapless, and there will be other moments where they are able to bend without breaking. For the latter instance, kicking may decide the game, and Georgia’s K Rodrigo Blankenship is good enough to get the job done.

Georgia, with a lot of yards on the ground and several field goals.

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National Championship Game Prediction: Clemson 34, Georgia 24

This would be an intriguing matchup. With both fanbases being located nearby, the Benz would be packed full of crowds from both schools and would likely not be skewed one way or the other. The main matchup to watch in this game would be Clemson’s D-Line versus Georgia’s RBs, and quite frankly, Clemson’s defensive front is good enough to get the job done, even against two of the nation’s best running backs.

If it comes down to Clemson versus Georgia, expect the score to be low, but Clemson will win and it will feel more comfortable than the scoreboard might indicate.

College Football Bowl Predictions 2017-18

In this post, I will pick my favorites for every pre-NY6 FBS bowl game; the New Year’s Six bowls and the playoffs will get their own post later on.

The team I am picking to win each matchup is in bold.

New Orleans (12/16): Troy vs. North Texas

Cure (12/16): Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

Las Vegas (12/16): Boise State vs. Oregon

New Mexico (12/16): Marshall vs. Colorado State

Camellia (12/16): Middle Tennessee State vs. Arkansas State

Boca Raton (12/19): Akron vs. Florida Atlantic

Frisco (12/20): Louisiana Tech vs. SMU

Gasparilla (12/21): Temple vs. FIU

Bahamas (12/22): UAB vs. Ohio

Potato (12/22): Central Michigan vs. Wyoming

Birmingham (12/23): Texas Tech vs. South Florida

Armed Forces (12/23): San Diego State vs. Army

Dollar General (12/23): Appalachian State vs. Toledo

Hawai’i (12/24): Fresno State vs. Houston

Heart of Dallas (12/26): Utah vs. West Virginia

Quick Lane (12/26): Duke vs. Northern Illinois

Cactus (12/26): Kansas State vs. UCLA

Independence (12/27): Southern Miss vs. Florida State

Pinstripe (12/27): Iowa vs. Boston College

Foster Farms (12/27): Arizona vs. Purdue

Texas (12/27): Texas vs. Missouri

Military (12/28): Virginia vs. Navy

Camping World (12/28): Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State

Alamo (12/28): Stanford vs. TCU

Holiday (12/28): Washington State vs. Michigan State

Belk (12/29): Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

Sun (12/29): North Carolina State vs. Arizona State

Music City (12/29): Kentucky vs. Northwestern

Arizona (12/29): Utah State vs. New Mexico State

TaxSlayer (12/30): Louisville vs. Mississippi State

Liberty (12/30): Iowa State vs. Memphis

Outback (1/1): Michigan vs. South Carolina

Citrus (1/1): Notre Dame vs. LSU

 

 

A Year in Review: Looking Back on Atlanta United’s First Season

I think most people (especially folks like Doug Roberson with the AJC and everyone over at Dirty South Soccer) have already given some great analyses of Atlanta United’s first season from an on-the-field perspective, and while I could certainly attempt to do that as well, it’d just be more of the same. I’ll take some time here to reflect on the off-the-pitch feelings and all the great experiences which have been brought to us here in Atlanta by the Five Stripes.

A-T-L U-T-D. Those six letters meant absolutely nothing just a couple short years ago, and now they carry with them the weight of the largest fanbase in Major League Soccer.

Five stripes, red and black. You walk around in Atlanta nowadays, and you see them everywhere.  In bars, on flags, walking about on people’s clothing; the Five Stripes are not just a team, not just a club. They are a culture. Atlanta United has done what they set out to do from day one: they have provided a fantastic product for the entire city of Atlanta to unite around.

While I am neither a founding member nor a member any supporters’ group, I would certainly consider myself an avid, diehard Atlanta United fan (which I think most of y’all have figured out by now). When I went to the first-ever match against Red Bulls, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been watching soccer for awhile now, but that was the first match I’d ever seen live. Now, having just gone to see the way the city came out to support Atlanta United in their first playoff (the first of many!), I think I can speak for everyone when I say that Atlanta loves its soccer club.

My 3 favorite experiences from this season were:

1) The first-ever goal. I have not ever heard a crowd roar like that. The club will have thousands of goals to its name someday, and I feel blessed to have seen the first. \

2) Watching the mass exodus of people walking to the stadium before every match. Long before the season began, I was one of many who questioned the naming of the club. Now I know that “Atlanta United” is no misnomer. Atlanta United is all-inclusive. Seeing everyone excitedly emerging from the city and converging upon the stadium before a game is just a wonderful thing.

3) The light show at the playoff match. There’s not really anything I can say that can do it justice, so just see for yourself. It was an impromptu showing of passion for the club, and it was awesome. ATLUTD has the best fans in MLS.

 

Next season’s not far off! I’m not sure what it’ll bring, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

~AtlantanKnight

Soccer Culture in the US Needs Community Support to Grow Faster

In many places throughout Europe and Latin America, a soccer club is a built-in part of a community. London neighborhoods can be defined by the football club they support and the bond that creates between members of an area. In the US, this is bond is something we associate more with college sports or maybe baseball. With soccer, there’s not a very rich history in the United States; the game is just now seeing a resurgence in interest for the first time since the early Twentieth Century.

Major League Soccer is a great thing overall for soccer in the US, but it does have some drawbacks. MLS teams don’t generally seem to have a solid connection with their communities. For example, FC Dallas can’t seem to break into the spotlight of the DFW sports scene. Colorado Rapids has poor attendance in Denver. New England Revolution’s support currently is like a drop of water in a bucket compared to the lake of Patriots fans. Maybe it’s the poor stadium locations, the crowded markets, the lack of advertising, or the ownership. Many MLS teams can’t seem to make themselves a big deal in their market.

However, some MLS teams are doing a great job at engaging their city. My new hometown team, Atlanta United, is quickly becoming a big part of the Atlanta community, setting the high water mark for attendance in the 2017 MLS season. Portland Timbers, with their beloved Providence Park nestled in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood, have become a massive stalwart of Portland culture. Orlando City and Seattle Sounders also have some real roots in the community, but many other clubs in MLS either have no roots and poor attendance or decent attendance but live as *just another sports team* instead of being a real part of the community.

I think what soccer needs in the US is more lower-division teams which have the ability to branch out and become deeply involved in their respective cities and towns. Many lower-division clubs in leagues like the NASL, USL, NPSL, and USL PDL have been able to find support. The footprint of soccer fandom in the US should only increase in the future with the introduction of two new third division leagues, the NISA in 2018 and USL Division III in 2019. If more teams can start to spring up in smaller cities that don’t have any major sports teams (or even just one), then those cities will almost certainly come out to support their new club.

This is a sensation that can be seen all over the current USL. Teams like Rio Grande Valley FC, Sacramento Republic, Louisville City, and Reno 1868 come in towns with one or fewer major sports teams, and they all have respectable support. Pro soccer needs to find its way to cities like these. I think in the future they will, but right now, we as soccer and sports fans need to take it upon ourselves to go support our local soccer teams. If your area doesn’t have a team, go call for local businessmen to found a team and plop it into a lower league. You could even get together local soccer fans and found a supporter-owned team. The great thing about soccer is that it’s so flexible. Every supporter can be a part of the team, and every team can be a part of the community. That’s how it should be, and that’s what we need more of here in the US.

Saying Farewell to Atlanta United’s First Home

This past weekend, Atlanta United FC ended its tenure at Bobby Dodd Stadium with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC. From here on out, the Five Stripes will play home matches at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.

I only got to see two matches at Bobby Dodd in person, but I have seen many Georgia Tech football games there (sorry, UGA fans). The atmosphere for soccer was something else. Soccer and Atlanta United have left their mark on Bobby Dodd, and ATLiens will remember these past few months of the world’s beautiful game on the Flats with the fondest of memories.

Whether it’s that first-ever ATLUTD goal scored by Yamil Asad in March or all the countless goals thereafter, Bobby Dodd was a joyous sight for all the South’s soccer fans. I doubt that the Five Stripes will play at Georgia Tech ever again, but it was sure fun while it lasted.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to Atlanta United’s future at Mercedes Benz Stadium. It looks like the stands there will be steeper. Combine that with the roof, and the new home of Atlanta soccer ought to have an atmosphere of equal intimacy to BDS. The only downside to MBS is that the roof likely won’t be open for the rest of this 2017 season, but I’m looking forward to many matches of natural-lit soccer in seasons to come.

SunTrust Park is a Stadium Worthy of Housing the Atlanta Braves

When the Braves left Turner Field for the last time last year, I think a lot of people had doubts about SunTrust Park. The renderings looked nice, and everyone in the Braves organization assured fans that it would be a great ballpark, but how could any stadium ever replace the beloved Turner Field, “The Ted”? SunTrust Park was built to solve the Braves’ attendance problems and move the team to a location which could be built up into a commercial area with consumer-friendly surroundings. The location at the congruence of I-285 and I-75 in Cobb County has been seen as… questionable, to say the least, by most Atlanta residents. Still, the ballpark was built. The question is: how nice is SunTrust Park?

FullSizeRender (1)

And, as you can probably guess from the title, I think SunTrust is a gorgeous ballpark. The location was not as big of an issue as I’d expected; traffic was slow near the exits for SunTrust but no worse than traffic for Turner Field had been before. The shopping/dining area around the stadium, named “The Battery”, is small but vibrant. The presence of an Antico Pizza is a major plus.

Once inside the ballpark, a few things are clear: 1) this place is nicer than the Ted and 2) it feels like a Braves ballpark. Maybe it’s the drum or the Chick-fil-A cow or the thousands of tomahawk-chopping fans, but there’s no denying that SunTrust Park is the true home of the Atlanta Braves. For the longest continually operating franchise in American sports, nothing short of spectacular could suffice. I’m happy to see SunTrust Park lives up to the legacy.

Maybe the Braves aren’t a playoff team yet, maybe they’re not going to sell out every game, and maybe they are going to rename the nearby G-Braves… but at least the 3-time World Series champion Atlanta Braves have a world class stadium to call home now. I’ve gone twice this season, and I’m sure I’ll be back soon. Get over to catch a game if you’ve not been yet, and go Braves!

 

Expectations for the Rest of Atlanta United FC’s Inaugural 2017 Campaign

19 down, 15 to go. Atlanta United is a little past the halfway point, and the team is currently sitting pretty at 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points and a 9-7-3 record. The Five Stripes have 3 matches upcoming against our southern neighbors, Orlando City SC. Orlando is currently just a single point behind us on the table, but we have a game in hand. Atlanta is 8 points below the Supporters’ Shield-leading Chicago Fire, a club who has enjoyed much success through the addition of German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger and the excellent play of the league’s top scorer, Nemanja Nikolić. Atlanta won’t play Chicago again this season.

With the team playing well, it’s safe to say that Five Stripes supporters are expecting Atlanta United to be the first MLS team to make the playoffs in their inaugural season since Seattle Sounders managed the feat in 2009. The team has gotten better as the season has progressed, and if not for the loss of Josef Martinez for a grueling stretch of 10 matches, Atlanta United FC could easily be the name of the first or second-place team in the standings right now.

For me personally, I don’t see how the team could not make the playoffs. The team’s 3 games against Orlando should not be all that difficult. Orlando is falling flat lately, and their backline lacks the speed to contain Atlanta United’s forwards. I’m expecting a minimum of 6 points from those 3 matches. Elsewhere in the schedule, matchups aren’t much more difficult. There’s one more meeting with fellow expansion side Minnesota United, a club that the Five Stripes whacked 6-1 in the middle of a Minnesota snowstorm on March 12th. This next match will be October 3rd, at home.

There are also two matches each against Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution. With those clubs sitting 8th and 10th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings, they shouldn’t pose much trouble. There’s even a game left against DC United. DC has been Atlanta United’s kryptonite this season, but they also sit in last place with a lowly 18 points. A third of those points come from Atlanta. Perhaps the third time will be the charm?

The only truly difficult matches left are an August 6th visit to Sporting Kansas City and the final game of the season where Atlanta United FC will host a very competent Toronto FC side at Mercedes Benz Stadium on October 22nd. Luckily, Dirty South Soccer has reported that the entire stadium will be open for that finale of a matchup, and I would imagine that even Giovinco and his cronies will have trouble withstanding an atmosphere of 75000 raucous Five Stripes faithful.

With all that being said… keep your heads up, ATLUTD supporters! The Five Stripes will end this year with a fine first season. I’m personally expecting a third place conference finish, a playoff berth, and an early MLS Cup exit, but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Edit: For what it’s worth, I also expect Gressel to win Rookie of the Year, but he is going to have to at least maintain his current production in order to do so. I’m excited to see what more he has in him.

Atlanta United’s full schedule can be found here: https://www.atlutd.com/schedule

Major League Baseball’s World Series Champion Needs International Competition

Has everyone else ever thought about how the traditional World Series isn’t really a world series at all? The title presumes that there are no other baseball teams in the world. It’s time to step out of our little bubble and take on some overseas challengers.

Japan’s league, Nippon Professional Baseball, is the second best baseball league in the world. The league is home to numerous former MLB players, and it is the source of many famous Japanese players like Ichiro. The league plays from March to October. They use similar rules to Major League Baseball with only some minor changes, none of which are all that game-breaking. Their league even parallels MLB in that only have the NPB teams use designated hitters. The two leagues are much more similar than many American fans might think.

So why should the World Series champion play the Japan Series champion? For one, it would thoroughly legitimize whichever team won this intercontinental series. It would not have any serious logistical obstacles since both leagues play during the same months. The series could happen in late November and be played over seven games. Transportation may be a problem, but the series could either take place over a longer period of time than a conventional 7-game series or simply take place entirely in one country one year and the other country the next.

I think the game of baseball needs something like this. In America, baseball is starting to lose its place as the favorite sport of younger generations, but in Japan, baseball is the sport. A spark is needed. A Trans-Pacific Championship series would be highly attended on both fronts, and it would bring a new feeling of globalization to America’s great pastime which is beginning to seem out-of-touch and boring to millennials.