Friday, March 26, 2010

Bulls Basics — 2 — The International League

The 14 teams in the International League are matched up with major league teams in the eastern and mid-western part of the country without regard to whether the parent club is in the National League or the American League. The IL has teams affiliated with Boston, New York (Yankees and Mets), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago (White Sox), and Minnesota. That gives the IL 8 American League and 6 National League affiliates.

Logic would say that since AAA is the next step down from the majors, the teams would like to be in close proximity to each other. Sometimes that’s true. Toledo is linked to Detroit, Pawtucket is the AAA team of Boston, and the new home of the Atlanta Braves AAA club is just a long taxi ride away in Lawrenceville, Georgia. On the other hand, Charlotte is a pretty far from Chicago and the Durham/Tampa Bay distance is a good bit more than average.

Obviously all the teams in the “International” League are in the US, but up until recently there was a team in Ottawa. That gave us the chance to sing along to “O, Canada” four times a year. You can bet that someday — maybe not in my lifetime, but someday — The IL will have a team in Havana, San Juan, or Mexico City.

Last piece of trivia before wrapping this up — What about the designated hitter rule? In the International League the only time pitchers bat is when both clubs are National League affiliates. That means that no Durham Bull pitchers will go to the plate this year (except in the very weird circumstance where a pitcher could go to the plate as a pinch-hitter — not likely, but possible).

Divisions and Affiliations

North Division

Buffalo Bisons - New York Mets
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs- Philadelphia Phillies
Pawtucket Red Sox - Boston Red Sox
Rochester Red Wings - Minnesota Twins
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees - New York Yankees
Syracuse Chiefs - Washington Nationals

West Division

Columbus Clippers - Cleveland Indians
Indianapolis Indians - Pittsburgh Pirates
Louisville Bats - Cincinnati Reds
Toledo Mud Hens - Detroit Tigers

South Division

Charlotte Knights - Chicago White Sox
Gwinnett Braves - Atlanta Braves
Norfolk Tides - Baltimore Orioles
Durham Bulls - Tampa Bay Rays

The league offices are in Dublin, Ohio. Not quite sure what it means, but the Bulls have one seat on the Board of Directors (Bulls VP George Habel). Website.


  1. If I was in charge of the IL, I would restructure the divisions to be split on the NL/AL lines. We would have one 6-team division of all the NL-tied and two 4-team divisions of AL teams. I assume that the NL teams would prefer their teams play more NL-tied teams, since they would probably want their pitchers to have the batting experience they are going to need when they get up to the majors.

    That said, I haven't looked at the geography to see if it would make any sense from that perspective.

  2. The closer I looked, the more headaches I got. The PCL has got some outliers, but so does the IL.

    At a guess, I'd bet that from a development point of view the NL teams would rather have a spot for someone to rotate in and out of the dh than have pitchers hit. Plus, if they wanted, they could re-write the rule to make it like the world series (i.e., dh in AL-affiliate parks; no dh in NL affiliate parks.

    Does it mean that there are some in the NL who like the dh?

  3. I actually think the NL teams don't care about pitchers batting. It's just an opportunity for them to get hurt in AAA, especially since it's rare for anyone but a starter to pitch anyway. In AAA, it's fairly rare that someone gets promoted and becomes a MLB starter the same season. Plenty of time in the offseason to give some BP to the starting pitchers

  4. Oops, should be "rare for anyone buy a starter to bat anyway"

  5. So is it time for the NL to give up and adopt the DH rule?

    The world may be coming to an end. What would be next? Metal bats???