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Steinbrenner questions divisional setup

Steinbrenner questions divisional setup

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TORONTO -- The divisional setup in Major League Baseball is at the top of Hank Steinbrenner's concerns with the state of the game, according to a column written by the Yankees co-chairman that will appear on newsstands this week.

Steinbrenner has periodically contributed guest columns to The Sporting News this season, his first full year at the helm of the organization. The publication released excerpts of Steinbrenner's comments to the news media on Tuesday, in which he compared the Yankees' position to that of the Dodgers.

"The biggest problem is the divisional setup in Major League Baseball," Steinbrenner wrote. "I didn't like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now. Baseball went to a multi-division setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement. But it isn't fair.

"You see it this season, with plenty of people in the media pointing out that Joe Torre and the Dodgers are going to the playoffs while we're not. This is by no means a knock on Torre -- let me make that clear -- but look at the division they're in. If L.A. were in the AL East, it wouldn't be in the playoff discussion. The AL East is never weak."

The Dodgers (81-75) are pacing the National League West, one season after Torre turned down an incentive-based one-year contract offer to continue managing the Yankees.

"I'm happy for Joe, but you have to compare the divisions and the competition," Steinbrenner said. "What if the Yankees finish the season with more wins than the Dodgers, but the Dodgers make the playoffs? Does that make the Dodgers a better team? No."

As evidence of his viewpoint, Steinbrenner pointed to the 2006 Cardinals, who defeated the Tigers in the World Series after finishing the regular season 83-78, and took a shot at the National League West's current race between the Dodgers and D-backs.

"St. Louis winning the World Series -- that was ridiculous," Steinbrenner said. "The Cardinals won their division with 83 wins -- two fewer than the Phillies, who missed the postseason.

"People will say the Cardinals were the best team because they won the World Series. Well, no, they weren't. They just got hot at the right time. They didn't even belong in the playoffs. And neither does a team from the NL West this season."

According to excerpts, Steinbrenner continued to call baseball's revenue sharing "a socialist system," and made it clear that he does not agree with it.

"Does it work? It depends on your point of view," Steinbrenner said. "But is it right? Is it even American? I'd argue no on both of those points."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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