June 16, 2011

It's Time To Discuss Realignment Again!

Possible realignment of baseball's two leagues and six divisions is back in the news.

ESPN's Buster Olney reports that four sources confirm that a simple form of realignment has been raised in labour talks and is being seriously considered. It would call for two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.

Another more radical possibility is to scrap the divisions altogether and have two 15-team leagues, with the top five teams from each league making the playoffs. The Astros and Marlins are two candidates to switch to the AL.

ESPN analyst Jim Bowden, who has worked as a general manager of both the Reds and Nationals, says:
The time has come for baseball to go beyond moving just one team to a new league and to discuss a realignment plan that makes sense geographically and is in sync with the plan to expand the playoffs.
Since any proposal I would like to see implemented -- four divisions of seven or eight teams each, with only four teams making the playoffs -- will never be considered, I'll say that Bowden's idea (which would also eliminate the DH!) is pretty damn good. Since realignment was discussed in the late 90s, I have always wanted the Mets in the same division with the Yankees and Red Sox.
AMERICAN CONFERENCE     NATIONAL CONFERENCE
  
Eastern Division        Southeast Division
Boston Red Sox          Atlanta Braves
New York Mets           Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees        Florida Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies   Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays       Washington Nationals
  
Central Division        Western Division
Cincinnati Reds         Arizona Diamondbacks
Cleveland Indians       Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers          Houston Astros
Minnesota Twins         Seattle Mariners
Pittsburgh Pirates      Texas Rangers
  
Midwest Division        California Division
Chicago Cubs            Los Angeles Angels
Chicago White Sox       Los Angeles Dodgers
Kansas City Royals      Oakland Athletics
Milwaukee Brewers       San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals     San Francisco Giants
Bowden's plan would increase the number of playoff teams from eight to 12 (the three division winners and the three teams with the next-best records, playing in a 1-6, 2-5, 3-4 format). He would also shorten spring training and start the season around March 24.

12 comments:

Jim said...

Permit me to waste some time pipe-dreaming, too.
I'm for 2 fourteen-team leagues, each split into 2 Divisions. Contract two teams that have proven they won't support a team (either through poor ownership or fan non-support, doesn't matter). Rays, A's or Marlins are likely candidates (although I'm not sure how far the latest Miami new stadium saga has progressed). Uniform DH rule for both leagues (which, to my regret, will probably mean its demise). Balanced schedule for each league, each team playing the other 12 times (13 X 12=156 games). The remaining 6 can be used for a home and home 3-gamer with an inter-league rival, or scrapped altogether (remember the sked used to be 154 games until expansion in '61). No wild cards, the 2 Division winners in each league play for pennant, then WS.
I heart symmetry and balance. Play Ball!

Patrick said...

Might as well have the AL East be Phils, Sox, Yanks, Rays, and Jays just to make things impossibly hard.

Jim said...

Oh yeah, forgot one thing. In return for contracting 2 teams, I'd expand the rosters by 2 players, or alternately, 1 on opening day and another on July 1st. Eliminate unlimited call-ups on Sept. 1. Either give a guy a decent job or don't.

Jere said...

Jim for commissioner!

He's basically saying "go back to the 80s but put the DH in the NL." I'd sign up for that right now.

Bill said...

This would be weird. The big market teams are condensed into a few divisions. I wonder about the viability of small market teams like the Rays with less frequent Sox/Yanks visits cutting their revenues when they're not competitive (on the other hand, it'd probably be easier to compete).

And his playoff system is messed up. If 1 plays 6, 2 plays 5, and 3 plays 4, you're left with 3 winners advancing. Round robin LCS? I'd actually love that, but I assume he didn't think it through and should realize a 12 team playoff needs byes.

allan said...

I'm for 2 fourteen-team leagues, each split into 2 Divisions. ... No wild cards, the 2 Division winners in each league play for pennant, then WS.

Yes! Four 7-team divisions, or add two new teams and make it 8 teams per division -- like the old AL and NL. But having *fewer* playoff teams is exactly what MLB doesn't want to do, so ....

And his playoff system is messed up. If 1 plays 6, 2 plays 5, and 3 plays 4, you're left with 3 winners advancing. Round robin LCS? I'd actually love that, but I assume he didn't think it through and should realize a 12 team playoff needs byes.

For a sport that plays every day, byes are bad. The rotation can be lined up perfectly, but then the pen and players may be rusty. Whatever gets done should not involve teams getting up to a week off.

I was going to try to dig out some of the old realignment proposals from yesteryear, but I have not had a chance.

pudge said...

I hope the league is insightful enough to never even CONSIDER eliminating the AL / NL distinction.

Hell, I still want them to end interleague play.

tim said...

I can't see the DH being eliminated, just cos its a very lucrative position for players.

Adam said...

I can't see the DH being eliminated because nobody wants to watch pitchers hit.

Geoff said...

Your set up is fine if you are not Toronto. That setup would be impossible for them. I am also not crazy about the idea of putting all those big spenders in one division. Both issues could be addressed by a cap of some sort. Of course that and losing the DH will never happen.

Zenslinger said...

I think the geographical emphasis is important given travel costs and gas prices long term. But it does seem brutal to have all that big northeastern city money in one division.

Rob said...

That looks like almost the same alignment as I talked about last year and the year before that. Some minor differences, like having a western division and southwest rather than west & California, but hey.

Interesting stuff!