Home > Uncategorized > MLB Realignment Proposal 2013

MLB Realignment Proposal 2013

Bud can't hear to well, but he's going to try and listen.

Bud Selig did something that raised a few eyebrows and turned a few heads – he talked about progress. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet lays it out nicely, but remains slightly pessimistic about how much change will actually occur.

However, since we’re fans and we’re entering the dog days of summer (especially as Jays fans) I thought it would be a good exercise to try and imagine a new MLB. Last week I discussed the changes to instant replay that I would institute (and at least one of the ideas – replay for balls down the line – is being considered) and this week I will discuss a complete realignment of the divisions, leagues, and schedule.

Without further ado (or regard for many factors as this is an exercise for fans) I present my MLB Realignment proposal for the 2013 season:

The American League

AL EAST
NEW YORK YANKEES
BOSTON RED SOX
NEW YORK METS
ATLANTA BRAVES
WASHINGTON NATIONALS
BALTIMORE ORIOLES
TAMPA BAY RAYS
FLORIDA MARLINS

AL CENTRAL
TEXAS RANGERS
HOUSTON ASTROS
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
CINCINNATI REDS
CLEVELAND INDIANS
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
MINNESOTA TWINS

Ok, ok, now before you shout and scream let me try to explain my rationale. First, I’m a Jays fan, and I’d love to get the hell out of the AL East. Second, baseball thrives on regional rivalries more than any other traditional sport (hence the inclusion of the Mets in the AL East along with the Braves, Nationals, and Marlins). Yes, there is a colossal divide between the heavyweight Yankees and minnow Marlins, but doesn’t that already exist with Tampa Bay?  And, of course the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry (the best in American sports) needs to continue on for eternity.

In the Central the biggest factor was geography. The teams are relatively close together (Minnesota is a bit far from Texas but in the same time zone at least) and, well, that’s about it really. If this realignment happened tomorrow this would undoubtedly be one of the weakest, yet certainly interesting, division in baseball (sort of like the AL Central now!).

The National League

NL EAST
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
DETROIT TIGERS
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
PITTSBURGH PIRATES
CHICAGO CUBS
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
MILWAUKEE BREWERS

NL WEST
LA DODGERS
SAN DIEGO PADRES
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
LA ANGELS
SEATTLE MARINERS
OAKLAND As
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
COLORADO ROCKIES

As you can see I’m a big proponent of geography friendly divisions. These guys play a lot of games in a short amount of time and anyone who has done any sort of travelling (on private jets or not) knows that it can take a lot out of you and lead to fatigue which leads to injuries.

The NL East keeps everyone close and for once will pit Cubs fans versus White Sox fans forcing Chicagoans to finally choose one. The Brewers and Jays reunite and perhaps an untapped rivalry in Detroit finally begins between the Jays and Tigers. And, Philly and Pittsburgh get to continue their rivalry in another sport (this once probably won’t be as close). Overall, it’s a balanced division both competitively and geographically.

In the NL West I decided to throw all these teams together for the sake of simplicity. These teams are way out west and might as well be in their own league. My east coast bias is clearly prevalent, but I’m not as in tune to the west coast dynamic. I have the feeling it would be a very competitive division that will give teams in the NL East fits and could be a deciding factor in who wins it, but at the same time could boast a World Series finalist year in and year out.

Ok, now it’s time for the schedule. I’m going to be realistic and assume the 162-game schedule doesn’t change. The owners want to make as much money as possible, it’s a business, and this gives them the best opportunity to do so.

So, we need to take a team from each division (8 vs 7 imbalance) in order to show how this would work. Let’s take our beloved Toronto Blue Jays as the example for both the NL East and AL Central.

The Blue Jays would play each division rival a total of 18 times for a total of 108 games. They would then play each team in the NL West 6 times (one series home and away) for a total of 48 games and a grand total of 156 games. Now, the owners want that extra series and here is where I would be flexible. If you wanted to have ONE interleague series to promote whatever the hell you wanted you could go ahead and do so. Or, you could choose one team in the division to play an extra home and away series with. I’ll leave that up to the marketing gurus at MLB.

In the NL West/AL East the calculations are a bit more straightforward (and don’t include interleague play). Let’s take the Boston Red Sox as an example because I really like the city. The Red Sox would play each team in their division 18 times for a total of 126 games. Then, they would play each team in the AL Central six times for a total of 36 games and a grand total of 162 games.

In this proposal interleague play would all but be eliminated and divisional games would take priority. Baseball is a traditional game and the average fan doesn’t really care if the Seattle Mariners are in town if his favourite team is the Boston Red Sox. This strategy sort of backfired on hockey a few years back, but I think would work in baseball.

The next thing we would have to consider is the addition of another two wildcard teams and I have a simple proposal for that as well. The top two teams in each division automatically make the playoffs followed by the two teams with the best record regardless of division for a total of six teams in each league. Then, take a page out of the NFL’s book and give the division winners a bye into the next round. So, you would have four teams (ranked based on record) play in a best of five series to see who moves on to face the respective divisional winners in the AL/NL Championship series.

Some people might think this hurts the divisional winners by giving them close to a week off, but at the end of a long season some injuries could be mended and their starting rotation given a rest and the ability to be reset. The system seems to work in the Korean baseball league which actually gives the divisional winner (there’s only one) a bye straight into the Championship Series.

There are some flaws in this proposal and if you’d like to suss them out then feel free to leave a comment as always.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Ren90270
    October 18, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    Nice proposal but I don’t see that CHC & STL would separate from each other since both are bitter rivals in the NL Central. And the Central Division of each league will not disappear. I could only see three teams switching leagues.
    I see it like this:
    American League
    AL East – BAL, BOS, NYY, PIT*, TB
    AL Central – CWS, CLE, DET, KC, MIN
    AL West – ARZ*, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX

    National League
    NL East – ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WSH
    NL Central – CHC, CIN, MIL, STL, TOR*
    NL West – COL, HOU**, LAD, SD, SF

    * – teams switching leagues; ** – team moving to a different division

    HOU would move back to the NL West; ARZ switches leagues and slots into the AL West; PIT & TOR switch their places.

    New bragging rights Interleague rivalries: COL vs. ARZ; TOR vs. DET; PHI vs. PIT.

    18 games vs. division rivals, 6 games vs. other teams in their league, including Interleague rivals (4 divisional Interleague teams and 1 bragging rights, or regional, team). Depending how teams finished in the standings from the previous season.

    Grand total of 162 games.

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