Let’s Talk Realignment

Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

by: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

There has been a lot of expansion discussion lately and it began with Russell Wilson saying he intends to bring a major league team to Portland. We covered the story here a couple of weeks ago.  

OTPB own Andrew Teaster then looked at potential cities that could also host an expansion team along with Portland if expansion was the choice over relocation. You can find his article here

The latest in this evolving topic comes from The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.

Here is a graphic of Stark’s proposal:

Stark recently appeared on MLB TV and presented his idea for a realigned Major League Baseball along with cute divisional nicknames. Here are a couple of key items to take note of:

  1. Stark assumes an NBA-esque split of East and West conferences (?), leagues, I don’t know.
  2. He also figures that realignment would be a good time to add the DH to both divisions.

While he did get it right that the East and the West would be made up of four divisions of four teams each, he got some things terribly wrong.

First, his realignment completely changed the MLB landscape by separating the biggest rivalries in the sport. Change is not a bad thing, too much change at one time can be and this would hurt more than it helps baseball. The rivalries such as the Yankees/Red Sox and Cardinals/Cubs are a driving force behind the game’s popularity whether one thinks it matters or not. Removing those teams from the same division, while not an end all move, would not sit well with a lot of fans.

Second, making the assumption about the league-wide DH might not be the best thing to add into the mix as well. While I agree that we will probably see that happen at some point, including it in a league-wide realignment would not be the best choice. You are already creating two new divisions and altering the playoff format – like I said too much at once can have a negative effect.

The question then becomes what should the league do if and when expansion does happen. Here is my proposal:

It seems that Portland will undoubtedly be one of the two cities. There is a lot of support and money already behind this. As Andrew showed us there are several cities that could become home to expansion team number two. 

For the sake of this article, we will go with Stark’s choice of Charlotte.

First, MLB should not use the NBA format, but instead, adopt divisions in line with the NFL. Keep the American and the National Leagues and have East, West, North and South divisions. Here would be how I would align the teams:

AL East
Yankees – Red Sox – Blue Jays – Orioles

AL North
Tigers – Twins – Indians – White Sox

AL South
Royals – Astros – Rays – Rangers

AL West
Portland – Mariners – Angels – A’s

NL East
Mets – Nationals – Phillies – Pirates

NL North
Cubs – Brewers – Reds – Cardinals

NL South
Charlotte – Braves – Marlins – Rockies

NL West
Dodgers – Giants – Padres – Diamondbacks

Notice in these divisions, unlike the alignment proposed by Stark, you keep the historic rivalry teams together. The South divisions in both leagues are the most spread out, but then again the American south is simply that way…large and spread out.

For the most part, you are keeping familiar teams together and creating competitive divisions.

Secondly, for now, let’s just keep the DH in the American League and revisit the discussion when the dust settles from realignment.

As far as the playoffs are concerned I see no reason not to make it a tournament of division winners. I know the Wild Card game has added an excitement level, and revenue stream, that the MLB would have a hard time parting ways with. I wouldn’t be surprised if they look to keep the Wild Card included in postseason play. First round byes for the top two teams in each league would make the most sense, a la the NFL.

Expansion and realignment, even with their protestors, would add an intriguing element to MLB. With their primary goal being creating new fans this would certainly be a viable option to accomplish that. I, for one, am for this happening. The truth is that it appears bound to happen in some shape or form.

What are your thoughts? Are you for or against expansion and realignment? Let us know in the comments!

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