Well, it's the offseason, which means there's more room for light-hearted fare on this blog than there would be in the regular season, when this space is usually regimented in the day-to-day workings of the baseball beat. So I'm starting something this week that I'm hoping to have a little fun with throughout the winter.
It's called the Tuesday Talker List (never mind that the first installment is coming on a Monday), and it'll work like this: Each week, I'll post something on a baseball topic with five or six choices and ask you to rank them best to worst. We can do everything from the best players in Nationals history to the most memorable quotes in team annals to the best games you've ever seen in person to the top players in the last 30 years. The idea is to have a little fun, get a good debate going and exchange some witty banter.
I'll post the topic each morning (or the night before, in this case), let you submit your rankings throughout the day and add my choices in the afternoon.
Here's the first topic, cribbed from a discussion we had in one of my in-game chats earlier this season:
Suppose you're a baseball writer, and you had your pick of any division in the game in which you'd work. You'll be spending 36 games a year in the other cities in your division, so weigh your travel destinations carefully - Do you prefer big East Coast series in New York or Boston, sunny afternoons at Wrigley Field or summer nights in Southern California? Remember, your division of choice can also lead to some hairy travel situations: Writing a game story on the West Coast, while fighting your East Coast internal clock the whole way, is no picnic. And frankly, in some divisions, you're likely to see more meaningful baseball than others.
In the comments section, rank the divisions in which you'd prefer to work from favorite to least favorite. Put all six MLB divisions on your list, and, if you're so inclined, explain why you ranked the divisions the way you did.
Check back throughout the day to see what your fellow readers picked. I'll update this post with my choices on Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATE AT 4:03 P.M.: Now that you've had a chance to weigh in, here's my list, and my reasons for it:
1) NL West: Can't beat the ballparks -- AT&T Park, Dodger Stadium, Coors Field and (my favorite) Petco Park -- or the weather. Plus, any time you fly east, you get an earlier deadline. As for Arizona and Chase Field? Well, at least it has a pool. But the other four ballparks and cities are among the best dozen or so in the game. It's also got a classic rivalry (Dodgers-Giants) and a low likelihood of rainouts. The best, by a clear margin, in my mind.
2) AL East: Both the NL and AL East offer some great destinations, but I give the slight edge to the AL because it has the Yankees (instead of the Mets), Toronto (instead of Atlanta) and Boston (instead of Philadelphia). D.C. gets the edge over Baltimore (waiting for the angry Orioles fans on this one) and Miami beats Tampa, but the AL East nudges its NL counterpart for my No. 2 spot.
3) NL East: There's a lot to like about this division, too -- train-friendly travel from Washington to Philadelphia and New York -- but there's nothing resembling a classic ballpark in this division. The AL East has two of them (Fenway Park and Camden Yards), and I'd argue the NL West is on its way to having three (Petco, AT&T and Dodger Stadium). Still, a solid set of travel destinations.
4) NL Central: It loses some points because of the Rust Belt factor (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) and contains my two least favorite road trips in the National League (Cincinnati and Houston). But it's got Wrigley Field, and that's got to count for something. There's also a great baseball tradition in a number of these cities, and the six-team configuration makes for the potential of tighter races.
5) AL Central: Didn't think I was going to rank my hometown last, did you? In all seriousness, Minneapolis is one of the only things this division has going for it -- it has Chicago, yes, but it's the South Side, not the Friendly Confines. And while Kansas City's got a solid ballpark, it, Detroit and Cleveland don't offer much on the road trip slate.
6) AL West: It's got Seattle, and two of its four teams are in sister markets of the NL West (Anaheim and Oakland). So why the low ranking? This division gets burned on ballparks, particularly in Oakland and Dallas, and the four-team race just gives it something of an anticlimactic feel. Plus, it's spread out; if you work as Rangers beat writer, you're going to be flying two time zones west for all of your road games. It just doesn't do much for me.
Now that you've seen my picks, what do you think of them? Let me know.