If MLB Stayed at 30 Teams, What Could Realignment Look Like if Revisited?
Remember back in 1997 when a proposal was leaked that would have brought about radicle realignment to baseball? A new commissioner is taking office next winter and one can’t help but wonder, would he try new approaches? The Union has already voiced in the past that it would like to see some changes done to the schedule.
Previously, I have written about how baseball under the current alignment could modify the schedule so that the total number of games played in the division drops from the current 76 to 52, going from 19 to 13 games per divisional opposition, while increasing the number of intraleague games outside the division from 66 to 90, thus changing the number of games played from 6-7 per team to 9 games against said opposition. Interleague games would remain at 20 per team and scheduled much like we see today. Another idea I wrote about later which would not change alignment, would create a schedule that allowed for 56 divisional games, 14 against each team, plus 60 intraleague games or 6 games per same league opponent outside the division, plus 46 interleague games, 3 games against 14 teams and 4 against the 15th in the opposite league. Tonight’s idea, major geographic realignment that removes the AL and NL as we know it.
When 1997’s crazy idea was first reported in the papers, it looked like this. One league would have 16 teams split into a pair of divisions, the Rockies, mariners, Diamondbacks, and the five teams in California would make up one division, while the other would be the teams in the Central time zone, Minnesota, Milwaukee, plus the teams from Chicago, Missouri, and Texas. The two divisions back east would have seven teams each divided along similar lines. My proposal here would echo that to a point, while removing the AL and NL designations. All teams would face one another under the same rules and after years of hating on the DH, I have come to accept that the game is more entertaining when the pitcher is not batting and a guaranteed out 85% of the time, thus allowing the DH for all teams. Pitchers would still bat if a team had to sub a player acting as DH into a game as a defensive player or pitcher should such a need present itself. All teams would play 14 divisional games against each team within its own division. The number of games for teams played outside the division would be similar to the second proposal mentioned above, with a team playing 30 games or 6 per opponent in each of two divisions, while playing 3 per opponent against 14 of the 15 remaining teams in 3 more divisions, 4 games would be played against that 15th team for the final 46 scheduled games. The divisions would rotate from year to year for this scheduling purpose.
There are several ways you could align if you wanted to really shake things up and you could take a page from hockey and name the divisions after famous baseball figures from the past if you wanted.
So here are some realignment ideas.
Option 1, pure geography.
Division 1, all California: Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, and Athletics.
Division 2, three teams with no natural rivals plus Missouri: Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Royals, and Cardinals.
Division 3, the Sunbelt: Rangers, Astros, Braves, Rays, and Marlins.
Division 4, Great Lakes: Twins, Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, and Tigers.
Division 5, Northeast corridor: someone has to be left out, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Nationals, and Orioles.
Division 6: Industrial Division: Reds, Indians, Blue Jays, Pirates, Phillies.
Ironically under the old system with a division of 4 and a division of 6, the Tigers could be in the last division here instead of the Phillies, who would join the other teams from the northeast. The Twins, Cubs, Brewers and White Sox would have their own division.
Option 2, another take on geography.
Division 1 would again be the teams from California.
Division 2, again the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and mariners, joined this time by the Rangers and Astros.
Division 3, Royals, Cardinals, Cubs, Twins, White Sox.
Division 4, Blue Jays, Tigers, Reds, Indians, Brewers.
Division 5, Red Sox, Mets, Yankees, Marlins, Rays.
Division 6, Phillies, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates, Braves.
Finally option 3, which takes more of a historic approach.
Division 1, the original AL teams that have not relocated, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees, and Red Sox.
Division 2, the NL original teams that have not relocated, Phillies, Pirates, Reds, Cubs, and Cardinals.
Division 3, current NL franchises which have relocated at least once in history, Nationals, Brewers, Braves, Giants, and Dodgers.
Division 4, Al franchises that have relocated plus Angels who joined modern Rangers in expansion, Angels, Rangers, Athletics, Twins, and Orioles.
Division 5, 1990’s expansion clubs plus Astros who switched leagues, Marlins, Rays, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Astros.
Division 6, remaining expansion teams, blue Jays, Mariners, Royals, Padres, and Mets.
Finally, an option where the number of divisions is reduced to five. Teams play 4 games against the 24 teams outside the division for 96 total, the remaining 66 games are played against 5 teams in the division, 13 against 4 teams and 14 against the 5th.
Division 1, west coast: Mariners, Athletics, Giants, Dodgers, Angels, and Padres.
Division 2, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Astros, Rangers, Cardinals, and Royals.
Division 3, Twins, Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, Indians, and Reds.
Division 4, Tigers, Blue Jays, Rays, Marlins, Braves, and Pirates.
Division 5, Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Nationals.
Option 5, Expansion?