MLB Realignment Proposal: Time to Overhaul the Divisions

Thursday May 19, 2011

MLB reports:  Looking at today’s divisions in baseball, the setup to me does not make sense.  From a geographical and competitive standpoint, the current six divisions in baseball appear to exist without much of a foundation or reason.  After years of watching baseball in its present day form, I believe that it is time for a change.  As a disclaimer, I will warn that this article is not about expanding or changing the playoff format, the unbalanced schedule within divisional matchups and revamping interleague play.  While all these items are worth discussing, they will need to be put on the back-burner for a different day.  For now, the focus is on the division setup and the new MLB divisions as proposed by MLB reports.

In order to create a new structure, we need to look at the recent history of the divisions in major league baseball to understand how we got to the current structure.  Not too long ago, the American League and National league were broken up into two divisions apiece:  the East and the West.  Each league was stocked as follows:

 American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

New York Yankees

Toronto Blue Jays

American League West

California Angels

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

Oakland Athletics

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Chicago Cubs

Montreal Expos

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Atlanta Braves

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

There were four divisions in total.  When the playoffs rolled around, the leaders of the East and West in each league faced-off and the winners met in the World Series.  A system that had its flaws, but the majority of people knew it and liked it.  The system worked for many years, but with time inevitably came change.  New teams entered baseball through expansion:  the Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Rays).  The Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.  Baseball wanted to expand its playoff format and add two more teams per league to the playoff mix.  As a result of the changes, baseball grew from a four division to a six division format.  Both the American League and National League had three divisions each:  the East, West and now Central Division.  Add to the mix that the Brewers moved to the National League, the Angels went through somewhat of an identity crisis and the MLB divisions now look as follows:

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto Blue Jays

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

American League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Oakland Athletics

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Checking the totals, we have 14 teams in the American League and 16 Teams in the National League.  Divisions have a range between 4-6 teams each.  From a competitive standpoint, teams in the American League West have the best mathematical chance at a division/wildcard entry, with the fewest amount of teams in their division and fewer teams in the league overall.  Based on competitive records, the impression is that teams in the American League East face the toughest battles, while the National League Central for example is a weaker division.  Finally, from a geographical standpoint, the current setup just doesn’t work.  Looking at a map one day, I thought to myself:  there has to be a better way.  After a geographical and competitive analysis, I believe that I have found the fix.

In order not to change the baseball landscape too much, I have left the current six named divisions in place.  For simplicity of discussion, let’s assume that this portion works.  I believe that too many divisions will create chaos, while too few divisions will create a logjam of teams.  I am prepared to proceed with five teams per division and simply realign the current system.  On that basis, the following is the MLB reports proposed MLB divisional realignment plan.  Featured for the first time ever, our new MLB would look like this:

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Mets

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals

American League Central

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

Toronto Blue Jays

American League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Houston Astros

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay Rays

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oakland Athletics

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

 

From a geographical and competitive standpoint, it is impossible to ever make a perfect division.  But on the basis of 15 teams per league and 5 teams per division, I believe that the above proposal is a vast improvement over the current baseball divisional arrangement.  I will present each division as proposed by MLB reports with the related commentary as to the logic behind each.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Mets

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals

This division was one of the most difficult to build.  The Red Sox, Mets and Yankees were a given as the foundational teams to the new AL East.  Based on their history and makeup, the Red Sox and Yankees were not moving from the East.  Based on geography and rivalry, it was time to add the Mets to the mix and bringing them to the American League will create a fresh start for a team in need of change.  The last two teams for the AL East was between the Orioles/Nationals and Phillies/Pirates.  It would have been nice to see the Phillies in the Yankees/Red Sox division, but location and the team chemistries were part of the equation.   The Orioles and Nationals need to be in the same division based on proximity and are a better fit for the American league.  The Phillies and Pirates are still NL based and without good reason for a move, should remain in the senior circuit.  The Orioles have a long-standing rivalry with the Yankees and Red Sox, with the Mets and Nationals now joining the party that is the AL East.

American League Central

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

Toronto Blue Jays

Definitely a different look to the AL Central, this new division is reminiscent of the old AL East.  The only difference is both the Yankees and Red Sox are missing with the Reds now on board in the American League.  After some thought, I think you will agree that the new AL Central will be one of the most competitive and fun to watch in baseball.  The Jays and Tigers have always enjoyed a strong rivalry and based on geography, it makes sense for the teams to be in the same division.  The same goes for both Ohio teams, with the Reds offense now enjoying an extra kick in the American League by adding the DH to their lineup.  The battle of Ohio will be a heated one and it is about time both teams were in the same division.  The fifth and final team came down to a choice of the Brewers or Twins.  While the Milwaukee fans might protest a return to the AL, the team overall seemed to be the best fit for the new AL Central.  A great offensive team that will match up well with the Tigers, Jays and remaining group in this division.

American League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Houston Astros

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

After watching the last few years of Angels/Mariners and Rangers/A’s matchups, it is time for a change.  These teams do not have the rivalry factor and the old AL West simply lacked excitement.  The Astros and Rangers in the same division will showcase the battle of Texas, which I believe will slowly become one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.  The Rockies and Astros have the offensive ballparks that were made for the American League, power and home runs in excess.  The Diamondbacks and Mariners based on location fit best into the new AL West, a division in search of an identity but strong overall in hitting.  Exactly what fans would expect from their AL teams.

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay Rays

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

Rivalries, both old and new, will be the highlight of the new NL East as we showcase the new divisions of the senior circuit.  The Marlins and Rays are logical combatants based on their Florida location.  With the Braves not far away and already being rivals of the Marlins in the existing NL East, this division should feature some of the best baseball ever seen.  With the Pirates on the rebuild, the matchups of the Pennsylvania neighbors will bring back memories of the NL East from days gone by.  The Pirates became stagnant in the Central and with renewed rivalries and enthusiasm, this division will be competitive for years to come.  The move by the Rays to the NL should be an exciting one, with strong pitching and youth, the Rays will finally be home where they belong.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

St. Louis Cardinals

The battle of Missouri and Illinois will run rampant in the new NL Central.  The White Sox after all these years will be the leaving the American League and changing leagues to do battle with their arch-rivals, the Cubbies.  These two teams do not like one another and the Illinois fans will go wild.  After a season or two, people will never understand how these teams weren’t in the same division to start with.  The Royals, with the best farm system in the game and some of the most highly touted young pitchers and hitters will be a force in the NL Central.  The battle of Missouri will ignite Kansas City and bring spark and life to this once proud franchise that needs a fresh start and identity makeover.  Further considering the rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals, I can see the Cardinals and White Sox having intense face-offs every year.  The White Sox in coming over to the NL also bring their rivals the Twins with them.  The Twins, always built on strong pitching and defense will enjoy their long overdue move to the NL and should continue to match up well against the White Sox, Royals and new division foes.  It may take some time for the Twins to find life in this realignment, but over the long haul they will be better off for it.

National League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oakland Athletics

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the last and probably the best new division in the baseball, the revamped NL West.  The Dodgers, Padres and Giants are all left in their rightful homes and coming over are geographical based enemies, the Athletics and Angels formerly of the AL West.  The A’s logically will match up well with both the Giants and Dodgers, cross town rivals and former World Series opponents.  Compared to the old matchups with the Mariners and Rangers, the Athletics will see a sharp spike in attendance and popularity in facing geographical opponents that will ignite strong pitching matchups and close baseball games game-in and game-out.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, formerly the California Angels and the Anaheim Angels, will battle their “Los Angeles” foe in what will become as heated as the Yankees/Red Sox one day.  Having teams of geographical proximity playing in separate leagues in the past was preposterous.  The new baseball realignment will finally fix the divisional setup and create once and for all, an all California division that will showcase truly what the West Coast is all about.

I hope that you enjoyed reading our feature on the new proposed MLB realignment.  The ideas have been in my mind for some time and watching almost 1/3 of the season in 2011, it was time to suggest to align baseball into divisions that make sense.  The current setup as previously indicated does not make sense.  Baseball in its current form is nothing more than a patchwork set of divisions that quite frankly when viewed do not make sense.  It is time to get teams on more equal footing and create divisions that better reflect geographical proximity and competitive balance.  If major league baseball thought that creating interleague play and wild cards sparked new interest in the game, the new realignment will shake up baseball and bring a whole new level of fans to the sport.  It will be impossible to get everyone to agree on the divisional alignments.  But at the end of the day, most of us can agree that change is needed.  Here is one proposal on the table: let’s discuss it and work towards implementing the best system we can.  The fans deserve it and the game as a whole will benefit as a result.

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Posted on May 19, 2011, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. The only problem with shifting a team and going to two 15-team leagues is that you run into a scenario where either a) two teams have an off day every single day of the season, or b) you have at least one interleague series going on every day of the season. Neither is a “good thing.”

    • That is a good point Mike. I don’t know how I opposed I am to an interleague series every day to add variety…but that opens up it’s own can of worms. A 32-team MLB is an idea that has been thrown around quite abit as well. Teams in Vegas and New Mexico?

    • I don’t think you’ll ever see a Major League Baseball team in Las Vegas, what with the gambling aspect and all. More likely Puerto Rico or perhaps a third New York team (the city has supported three teams in the past), maybe Nashville as an extreme long shot.

    • A third New York team. Interesting. Bring back Brooklyn? If they figure out the gambling part, Vegas would be a great market. A team in Mexico City would be cool as well.

    • I think Montreal and/or Vancouver are more suitable for teams. I live in Canada, and I know very well Montreal is hungry for another chance at an MLB franchise and Vancouver can easily support one. But with 32 teams, won’t it make two divisions unequal with 6 teams again?

    • Hello Brian,

      I can’t see Major League Baseball expanding to Canada anytime soon, after the loss of the Expos and the Grizzlies in basketball. The Jets are back in the NHL, but hockey has a different flavor in this country. If there were to 32 teams, the divisions would be unbalanced again and may fit towards 2 divisions per league or no divisions at all. A definite work in progress. With so many American cities still without baseball and the Blue Jays in the middle of the pack in attendance, unfortunately I do not see your dream coming true.

    • Your definitely right about Montreal being a bust. The majority of the population there is French, and baseball isn’t a high-flying sport like hockey or football over there. But, here are 5 good reasons to move or expand to Vancouver;

      1) Seattle- Vancouver is in close proximity to Seattle and will start a pretty good rivalship. If you look at a map of where the 30 mlb teams are located, Seattle is in complete isolation, and having another team in the North-west can’t hurt. It could also save Seattle if a person tries moving it because of its alienation. Whenever the Jays go to play Seattle, almost a third of the fans are there to cheer on the Jays. If that many will take a two hour drive to Seattle to watch that game, imagine how many will come to watch a team if its just a 15 minute drive.

      2) Language- The Vancouver metropolitan area has more than 2.5 million people, and i’m sure 99% of people know English there, making it a lot more sucessful.

      3) Roots- British Columbia (the province Vancouver is loacted in), gave birth to at least 50-60% of Canadian baseball players. Examples: Justin Morneau (Twins), Jason Bay (Mets), Ryan Dempster (Cubs), Jeff Francis (Royals)& Rich Harden (Athlethics). These players are all all-stars and household names. This shows British Columbia has a lot of baseball roots and can support a team.

      4) Ethnicity- Vancouver has a large oriental population, and one of the largest japanese populations outside Japan.

      5) Readiness: BC Place in downtown Vancouver was used for the Winter Olympic Games 2010 and is the home of the CFL’s BC Lions.It can hold over 50 000 people, much larger than several stadiums in other cities. http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Place+million+upgrade/2137532/story.html

      To maybe make the 15/15 AL/NL split, move the unsucessful Marlins to Vancouver and convert them to the AL?

      Definitely not a priority of the MLB to bring another MLB franchise to Canada, but its something worth looking into. The MLB expanding outside the US borders will create a true “World” Series.

    • Interesting ideas Brian. With Marlins moving to Miami next year, the Vancouver relocation won’t happen. Its a nice market, but with so many US options available, I think next 2 expansion teams will be American. I will be running an article this week on globalizing major league baseball Stay tuned!

  2. Interesting. I don’t know that you need to put any city with 2 teams in the same conference. I like the fact that its possible for 2 NY or 2 Chicago teams to meet in the playoffs or WS. Also, the travel disparity you’re creating between some of these midwest conference and the West Coast conferences are probably going to grow if you’re giving teams like NY/ Chi/ LA an extra 10 non-travel games a year.

  3. Realignment is always fun. The only problem was the 15 teams in each league creates a scheduling problem and Interleague play or Expansion are the only way to fix that. I think Interleague play has run it’s course and needs to go away. I would be in favor of Expansion. Put a team in Portland for sure and one in either Charlotte or Brooklyn.

    Also, I think the DH should be in both leauges. Tired of seeing pitchers hit and risk even more injury.

  4. On the right track.. Very good ideas for realignment. NL West looks great! However with an uneven number of teams in leagues comes a whole new set of problems. Expansion anyone?

  5. Very good article. I like the new NL West and AL Central. I do agree that there might need to be an expansion of two teams to make something like this work. I know there has been talk of a team in Vegas….But I would love to see another team put in Canada or even put a team up in Portland, OR…Thanks for sharing this with us all.

  6. I like the idea of realignment, and I think the fact that there is 30 MLB teams is the biggest obstacle. However, another major problem would be moving that many teams between leagues with different rules. I’m sure a team like the Chicago White Sox, already not very good defensively would be very opposed to losing their DH. I don’t think you can have two 15 team leagues unless both have the same rules regarding the DH. This would allow interleague series every night and alleviate much of the scheduling headaches that would come from needing to give two teams off days every day.

  7. Very interesting idea—well thought out, too. The one problem I have is with the idea of making competitive balance and styles of play factors in the realignment.

    The Phillies are great now and the 2011 Rays are a very young team, but those kinds of trait aren’t permanent for franchises. Rosters and payroll vary year-to-year for every team, and even operating philosophies are only temporary in the face of ownership and front office changes.

    Unless you would propose realigning the divisions again every few years, the only thing you should base a new divisional structure on would be geography (maybe longstanding rivalries, but even those can change). Just like long-run economic models assume inflation and unemployment are at their natural, neutral points, competitiveness and style of play will even out over time.

    • Hello Lewie. Agreed with you that everything tends to balance out at the end of the day and realignment today would be different in the future based on many factors, like competitiveness and popularity. I based my realignment on rivalries and geography for the most part. While it may not work on all fronts, it is hard to have a perfect system. I would be curious to see what your realigned MLB would look like as I am always interested to hear different points of view.

  8. There is a better chance of MLB franchise being established on the moon than in New Mexico. I hope that was a joke.

    New Jersey/NY, Portland (#1 spot), and Charlotte are really the 3 best spots. Tennessee (either Nashville or Memphis) and maybe San Antonio or Indy make some sense too.

    Best case would be Portland (who nearly got a team in 1993 and 1998) and a 3rd NY team.

    The goal of a realignment shouldn’t be necessarily about rivalries, but getting time zones to make sense. Texas Rangers being in the West makes no sense as they are on Central Time and it sucks for their fans having to have all their divisional away games ending after midnight local time.

    Bud Selig has said a number of times he wants to try and get the Rangers into the Central division (like Astros are). Arlington isn’t that much further West than Kansas City.

    You also can’t move Cincy to the AL. They were the first Pro team and an original NL team. They stay in the NL til the end of time. Same with the Chicago White Sox, they are one of the original AL teams (along with Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit) still left….they can not and should not be moved to the NL.

    Can’t move the Mets to the AL IMO either. While on paper it looks nice, fans in NY got really upset when both their NL teams (Dodgers/Giants) moved. They were estatic when it was announced the Mets were going to be an NL team.

    • Hello Matt. Excellent points, appreciate the thoughts. Portland is a popular choice, as has been Charlotte and Tennessee for 2 extra teams in expansion. I believe there are enough strong players in baseball and the minors to fill out the rosters of 2 more squads and 4 teams per division would be ideal. A 3rd New York team has been thrown around on our message board, but I have not seen any reports to that effect. The move of the Reds, Mets and White Sox would cause a lot of stirs, but with the modernization of the game and moving forward, I think trying new things sometimes can be a very good thing. Not everyone would agree and purists are not fans of my ideas on the subject, granted. I am usually as old-school as you can, especially with wanting to get rid of the DH. But on the subject of realignment, I would like to blow everything up and start from fresh. I think attendance and popularity of the game would grow even stronger as a result. Thank you for the comments!

  9. Houston Astros would move to the American League West

  10. Jeff Packard

    First, no way you can do 15 teams in each league. The scheduling disaster for that has already been outlined. Secondly, dear god please, no expansion. Pitching is so watered down as it is, more teams will result in more crappy pitching across the board. I’d rather see 2 teams contracted and have well-pitched 3-2 games than expand and have 11-9 slugfests nearly every night.

    Let’s assume that putting teams from the same city (ie: NY, Chicago, LA) makes sense for “rivalry” purposes, and that owners would actually give the okay to that (which is doubtful). That’s fine. By putting Toronto into a central division, you’re wrecking havoc with anything close to natural/geographic rivalries everywhere else. You’d have a much better shot at having new divisions like this:

    AL East: Boston, NYM, NYY, Philadelphia, Toronto.

    AL Central: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota.

    AL West: Houston, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, San Diego, Seattle.

    NL East: Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington.

    NL Central: ChC, ChWS, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Kansas City.

    NL West: LAD, LAA, Oakland, San Francisco.

    • Thank you for the comments Jeff. The idea of expansion and increased realignment is a very subjective and contested subject. I appreciate your positions, as many baseball diehards would agree with you.

      I heavily considered the Philadelphia move to the AL East. What a division with the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets. The Jays would have a hard time there! Very interesting way to realign and you are close to what I proposed with some twists. Given the choice, I think that I would prefer to have 2 teams added in expansion or have some form of interleague play every day rather than have an unbalanced number of teams per division. But some good points, thank you for the suggestions! Please feel free to continue to comment on posts, you have great baseball knowledge and enjoyed your post.

  11. First of all, I enjoyed reading the post. Not that I agreed with much of it, but that’s because it’s one of the most contested debates that MLB has to offer.

    Realignment presents a number of problems, however there are factors to consider before it should ever occur in MLB. This is a topic far more complex than just shifting around teams. To do this right, numerous factors must be considered; factors that impact the future of the league in its entirety.

    The first factor to consider the long term health of the league and its franchises to see if any teams can relocate to a better environment. Which franchises are in financial danger, either due to attendance concerns, ballpark issues, or ownership concerns? L.A. Dodgers have a beautiful ballpark, but their ownership is in shambles. However, they are an iconic team, they aren’t going anywhere. The Rays have a much shorter, albeit very successful recent history. They have attendance and ballpark issues. They are a team that everyone should agree that from a solely fiscal standpoint, they should be near the top of the list if contraction ever comes up again. The Pirates have been terrible for many years with weak attendance, but they have a great ballpark and if they ever put a good product back on the field, they’ll have consistent sellouts. The A’s have a rotten ballpark, but decent ownership. The Marlins are a good franchise, but are getting a new stadium soon, apparently.

    Will/Can/Should any of these teams relocate to greener pastures? Should the league contract? Should the league expand? No need to shake up the league without answering some of these questions prior to realigning the divisions.

    Let’s look at the time zone breakdown of the league. There are 14 teams in Eastern time, 8 teams in Central time, 2 teams in Mountain, and 6 in Pacific. Currently, the AL West stretches across 3 time zones, and approximately 2,000 miles. That must change. The West has grow heavily in population over the decades, yet of the last three expansions (1977, 1993, and 1998), only half of the teams were added west of Central Time (Seattle, Colorado, Arizona). Florida picked up two teams and Toronto received the other. While you cannot go off of this info alone, as first glance, I would think it possible that at least one of two future expansion teams will be placed in either Las Vegas or Portland in the Pacific timezone. The other franchise should go to either San Antonio, Nashville, Charlotte, Orlando, Oklahoma City, a third NYC team, or even another foreign team, like Mexico City (doubtful, at least until their drug cartel issues are settled) or a return to Montreal. There are numerous holes with any choice, understandably, because the expansion process will be a toss-up. Portland doesn’t even have a AAA baseball team at the moment and pro sports has seemed hesitant to move a franchise to Sin City. Nashville supports its Titans, but is it really a 3 sport town? San Antonio has the population, but will it support a MLB franchise? Is there space to build a pro ballpark in NYC? Will it be in Brooklyn? Can we stomach another NYC team?

    I do believe baseball is ready to expand. I understand the fears of many purists that the game is too diluted, however by the time new franchises would be in place, we’ll be creeping up on 20 years since the last expansion. More pitchers are coming from overseas, like Japan, Korea, and Australia. The World Baseball Classic has been a success. College players are becoming more polished and pro-ready every year. The Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program has been a success. Training is improved and recovery time from injuries has been significantly reduced since the 1990s.

    So, here is what I would do, in scenario A, where Portland and either San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte are awarded a team:

    AL West: LAA, OAK, SEA, AZ (move from NL)
    AL South: TEX, BAL, TBR, San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte Expansion
    AL North: DET, CWS, MIN, KCR
    AL East: CLE, NYY, BOS, TOR

    NL West: LAD, SDP, SFG, Portland Expansion
    NL South: HOU, WSN, ATL, FLA
    NL North: COL, STL, CHC, MIL
    NL East: PHI, CIN, PIT, NYM

    Scenario B, where San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte and New York City are awarded teams:

    AL West: LAA, OAK, SEA, AZ (move from NL)
    AL South: TEX, BAL, TBR, San Antonio/Nashville/Charlotte Expansion
    AL North: DET, CWS, MIN, KCR
    AL East: CLE, NYY, BOS, New York Expansion

    NL West: LAD, SDP, SFG, COL
    NL South: HOU, WSN, ATL, FLA
    NL North: STL, CHC, MIL, TOR (move from AL)
    NL East: PHI, CIN, PIT, NYM

    The expansion possibilities seem logical. Rivalries remain largely intact, even across interleague boundaries. The only teams that switch leagues are among the last three expansions, leaving long established teams in their original divisions. No division crosses more than 2 time zones, reducing travel costs, jet lag, and prime time viewership opportunities for fans and sponsors.

    That’s it! Your thoughts?

    • What an amazing comment Baseball Bard! You clearly have put a lot of thought into the realignment issue and appreciate the commentary. I HIGHLY recommend everyone to read your comments, as it presents a great deal of food for thought on MLB realignment.

      As far as what you have presented, I was very impressed and you clearly know your stuff. Here is my thoughts on your ideas:

      1) Teams will have strong/weak ownership, high/low attendance. The popularity of teams will vary in many cases as will the state of their ownership. It will be tough to realign based on those factors as those situations could change at a moments notice. An unpopular team will likely remain that way, regardless of alignment. At the end of the day, in most cases a winning team cures all.

      2) I like the idea of expansion and adding 2 teams, to allow each league to have 16 teams. I agree with the commentary of many readers that expansion is preferred over daily interleague play. To keep the integrity of the game intact and have fair competition, 16/16 is the solution. I purposely left that piece open ended in my article to see how readers would respond and was presently surprised how many people caught that. Well done! I believe a major league is needed in Vegas, with or without gambling. It is a major market and the city can support and deserves a team. Okalahoma, Portland, San Antonio are all strong contenders but I would really like to see a Brooklyn team for the old-school feel. Unlikely to happen as I have heard Portland thrown around many times, but we shall see. Montreal will not happen as I cannot see Canada getting another team in our lifetime. Time zones is a consideration and I would try to keep divions aligned from a time zone perspective. Hard to do, but alignment should consider it.

      3) I would like to see a greater amount of team movement in realignment as I think more changes are required. However I do like your plan “B”, especially with the look of the two NY teams in the AL. It is not an exact science and baseball purists would likely prefer your realignment to mine, which is more radical. But you have put a great deal of thought into the factors of time zones, rivalries, competitiveness and it shows in your proposal. Well done and it was a pleasure to read your feedback. Thank you!

      I hope to see more commentary from you in the future on MLB reports as the readers would greatly benefit from hearing your commentary.

    • I like the idea of the Jays moving to the NL, the AL East is overpowered and congested. The Blue Jays and Orioles have no chance on being contenders because the Yankees and Red Sox are always contenders, and the Rays seem to have come back to life. 4 of the current 15 best teams in baseball are in this division.

      The AL East comprises of CC Sabathia, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Carl Crawford,Vlad Guerriro, Kevin Youkilis,Derek Lee, Evan Longoria, Adam Lind, Josh Beckett, Jon Lackey, Rickey Romero, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, A-Rod, Nick Swisher, David Price, BJ Upton, Matt Joyce and Brian Roberts.That’s an all-star team right there!

    • I agree, a move to the NL would be a good one for the Jays and allow them to better compete. Will be very difficult to beat the Yankees and Red Sox. Plus given strength of Rays, Jays will need a miracle likely to make the playoffs. That being said, I want to see the Jays back in division with the Tigers and Brewers. Great rivalries.

  12. Somewhat good, but many gaping holes in that suggestion. The biggest and most important thing you neglected was the cross-town rivalries. You put teams together like Angels-Dodgers, Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox. Those teams should never be in the same division. Such an alignment would cause the cross-town rivalry to diminish in importance and anticipation. What’s the big deal of a Yankees-Mets game if they’re going to play each other 15 times each season rather than 3 or 4 times? The only rivalry that might be acceptable to put together is Giants-Oakland, simply bcause no one cares about Oakland (Let’s just be honest).

    Another major flaw is that you screwed the AL West. While it’s nice to think of having an all California division such as your NL West, that leaves the AL West with the crappiest geographical division in baseball. No free agent would want to be a part of a division where every flight is at least 5 hours. Most of thos teams are so out of the way already that screwing with their own divisional locations will handicap teams (Such as Seattle).

    • Hello Jeremy. Thank you very much for your comments and have brought up some interesting points. Living in an AL East city, I hear all the time how sick everyone is of the Yankees/Red Sox matchups. Yet many people still look forward to watching them! Personally, I could not get enough of the Mets/Yankees, but that’s me. It is a very subjective idea and everyone will see it differently.

      A far as the AL West goes, I don’t think many free agents want to go to those teams regardless. Free agents go where the money is and where they have the best chance of winning in many cases. Others based it on location and lifestyle. Again a very subjective concept. But I agree, travel would play a factor…but I believe it already does in the West. Thanks for the response, appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

  13. 32 teams 4 divisions with 8 teams play each team in division 24 games for a total of 168 games only divisional winners in the playoffs with each series best of 9

    • The 2 teams expansion idea has been bounced around by many readers and I would agree, that this would be the ideal scenario. The interesting factors will be when MLB expands and to which cities.

  14. All, I suppose, interesting discussion if you accept the opening premise that baseball needs to realign, which I most certainly do not.

    Major League Baseball is in one of its most prolonged periods of financial health, competitive balance, and labor rest in history. While the NBA has generated only 8 different champions in the last 32 years and the NHL and NFL had had 14 different champions, baseball has produced 19 different World Series winning franchises, including 9 different ones in the last 10 years. The two most financially unstable teams, the Dodgers and Mets, are in their respective positions due to the poor choices of ownership while located in the the #2 and #1 largest markets in the country.

    I’ve heard people say the so-called 14/16 disbalance is the issue but no one can tell me why the AL and the NL HAVE to have the same number of teams. And if the problem is geography, it’s hard to say that is fixed when you’re putting Houston in the same division as Seattle when they’re 2,400 miles part, FURTHER than any two teams are at present.

    It’s not that I am some sort of old time purist, I simply don’t believe that change, particularly change as radical as many have proposed, should be enacted without some really strong and verifiable reasons why. I simply have yet to see those reasons while I can offer one good one not to: baseball ain’t broke and, as the cliche tells us, we don’t fix what ain’t broke.

  15. Along with the scheduling issue already raised, I think it robs some current rivalries. For example, the Brewers have always had rivalries with the Chicago teams, and the Twins in their limited play.

    But more than this is I think the issue of putting all these same state/city teams in the same division. It sounds exciting on the face but I think it has several issues:
    1) it robs interleague play of what has really been I think it’s greatest appeal. Which will diminish an already fading popularity in the process.
    2) I do think (although admittedly have no evidence to back this up) that same town teams particularly would have a greater market/economic unbalance if they played in the same divisions. It increases the possibility of one team essentially stealing the popularity, fans, and market.
    3) It eliminates one of the most marketable WS dreams: which are local teams facing off in Subways Series and battles of the bay and such. Which takes away from the possibility of that tension/rivalry taking baseball’s biggest stage.

    • Very interesting points Don. I think interleague has run its course. What I would like to see ultimately is baseball expand to 2 more cities, have 6 divisions of 5 teams each and balanced schedule to start off. Will create more competitive balance and allow more teams to compete for the postseason. 2 more wild card teams are also in order and while I want to get rid of the DH, won’t happen. I think seeing local teams in same division give more interest year round. Imagine Mets and Yankees fighting for playoff spot year round? There are pros and cons to all systems, mine is radical and admittably, unlikely to be adopted. But trying to move baseball forward and my realignment proposal was one way to do that.

  16. people do care about oakland because of m-ball

    • well they do, but not compared to the league standard obviously and there are other cities like San Antonio or Sacramento would support the A’s much better than Oakland

  17. How will the DH play out with the realignment?

  18. I think the plan would work if we did one thing: Make the DH standard. This way, there is no issue with the setup of the teams. I would be concerned about how each of the farm systems are oriented to support the current NL or AL rules. Puts all teams on even footing and makes the game more exciting with the increased offense.

  19. This sounds like a good idea, except I think the Red Sox and Phillies should be in the same division. Do you think this idea would work even better if they added two teams.

  20. A couple of flaws with your theory, here is some empirical data which points to you being wrong:

    From ’69-’93 (25 seasons), in the two division era, the Cincinnati Reds won 7 NL West titles, 5 NL Pennants, and three World Series. They did this with Atlanta being the closest rival to them in division (461 miles apart), Houston being the second closest (1051 miles) and with 2-3 LONG west coast trips every year to play the Padres, Dodgers & Giants. The travel issue is a myth–save for that it is more costly to do.

    The current AL West being easier to ‘qualify’ for the playoffs. Again, in the three division era (’95-’11; 17 seasons), only three times have the AL Wild Card been from the AL West (Oakland, LA & Seattle, once apiece), and only twice have the ALW Champion been to the WS (Texas, twice). Of them all, only one team has won the World Series, that being the Angels. The AL West has shown a MUCH smaller incidence of getting to the playoffs outside of their champion, and have done dismally even then, having gotten to the World Series only twice, and winning it once.

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