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MLB Realignment Doesn't Have to Wait


jtkoupal

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It seems pretty clear at this point that a realignment is on the horizon in Major League Baseball. Different ideas have been shared, but the most popular and most sensible one is for baseball to realign their divisions so that the teams are in closer proximity to each other. Such an alignment would probably not help any team more than the Seattle Mariners, who currently have to play 6 series in the state of Texas; more than 2,000 miles away from Seattle.

 

These ideas have arisen in light of the rumors of baseball expanding to 32 teams, with one team likely to be in Portland, Oregon and the other somewhere in the Eastern time zone. Such expansion will necessitate realignment anyhow, so it's possible that the MLB will wait until then to do anything, but in reality, they could start sooner. Indications are that the goal is for the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Rays to move into new stadiums before expanding. However, negotiations are slow. The Rays are committed to playing at Tropicana Field through 2027 and have made little progress on what to do after, though they have begun to explore a disastrous idea to split time between Tampa and Montreal when their lease on the Trop is up.

 

The current travel for the players is grueling, especially for the teams in the west, who are vastly outnumbered by teams in the central and eastern time zones. Instead of waiting for the expansion to happen, which will probably be close to a decade from now, if not longer, the MLB could realign AND shorten the season much sooner. Here's how:

 

The first step is making the rules uniform. This realignment will jumble up the league, so the DH will either have to be universal or banned first.

 

Then, the MLB could align their divisions as follows (basically, just take the divisions as they are now and shuffle the deck a little bit)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Pacific: Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers

Southwest: San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Houston

Upper Midwest: Kansas City, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota, Milwaukee

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Rust Belt: Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh

Metropolitan: Toronto, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston, Philadelphia

Southeast: Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami

 

I like this arrangement for a number of reasons, it's not perfect, especially for the southwest, but it's better than what they have. Also, there was no choice but to break up either Chicago's teams or KC and St. Louis. It's unfortunate, but something had to give.

 

As for the length of season, this schedule would make a ton of sense:

 

Vs Division opponents: 15 games vs each X 4 teams = 60 Games

Vs Rest of Conference: 6 games X 10 teams = 60 Games

Interleague: 6 games X 5 teams =30 Games (Play a 3 game series at home and on the road vs an entire division)

Total of 150 games

 

As I mentioned, it's not likely that the MLB will do anything until expansion happens (which I'm pretty indifferent about, honestly). However, in order to give the players a more reasonable travel schedule, and to give fans more chances to travel and see their team in nearby stadiums, this realignment makes a ton of sense.

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And if contracting the season is met with too much resistance, could play 18 games versus the other 4 teams in our division, making pretty much everything a 3-game series, and coordinating days off around the league so make-up games could be slotted in more easily.  But with 15, could do 2 home, 3 road series in odd-years, 2 road 3 home the next year to keep a balance (maintaining 30 home games and 30 road games within the division each year).

 

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Good luck getting them to drop 12 games. Players would not want to lose money and the owners surely would not want to lose any revenue as well.

 

I completely agree a shorter season would be a major improvement. They also need to go back to the old baseballs as well. Whatever they changed is not good for the game.

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Good luck getting them to drop 12 games. Players would not want to lose money and the owners surely would not want to lose any revenue as well.

 

I completely agree a shorter season would be a major improvement. They also need to go back to the old baseballs as well. Whatever they changed is not good for the game.

When the players go on strike, I think the MLB will be more than willing to drop 12 games.

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I think North Carolina should have a team.  It is a populous state with a great baseball tradition.  :)

 

I agree on this point. MLB just needs to bite the bullet and buy out the Rays from Sternberg and move them to Charlotte and be done with it already. 

 

 

That way the Rays (or whatever they are renamed too) can stay in the AL east but are simply moved further up the Atlantic seaboard towards Boston and NY. Nashville could also be an option as well.

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Good luck getting them to drop 12 games. Players would not want to lose money and the owners surely would not want to lose any revenue as well.

 

I completely agree a shorter season would be a major improvement. They also need to go back to the old baseballs as well. Whatever they changed is not good for the game.

 

I wonder if adding two more teams to the league and instituting a DH in the NL, the MLBPA might be willing to make that compromise.

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I think they wait until expansion occurs. Makes no sense to shuffle things up until you add those two extra teams and figure out what is happening with the A's and Rays. Until their stadium situations are resolved (one way or the other) nothing is going to happen and no expansion or re-alignment will occur. Manfred knows this and the league knows he wants to expand. Part of this exploration of the Rays splitting time between Montreal and St. Petersburg is to put pressure on them to resolve the stadium situation. That said, I could see a scenario where the Rays move out of Florida to Charlotte, North Carolina and thereby staying in the AL East (at least for the time being) and the A's finally getting a new stadium once they secure a piece of land to build on. Once that happens then Manfred gets to expand adding a team in Nashville and another team in Portland or Vegas.

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I love posts like these. It's always fun to go through the thought exercise.

 

I really don't think they'll do anything until they get 32 teams, and then they'll go to 4 divisions or (gasp!) 8 like the NFL.

 

Regardless, my only criticism is that MLB would never, ever, ever break up the Cubs and the Cardinals. Literally a 0% chance that would happen.

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