MLB Requires Realignment with expansion to 32, Some Possibilities
During the Thursday press conference when Rob Manfred said it was much easier to work with division of 4’s than divisions of 5’s, that signals what MLB likely would look like under a 32 team structure, eight divisions of four teams each.
When the radicle realignment was met with great anger in 1997, it was quickly shelved, a proposal that would have aligned the leagues geographically into a 16 team circuit with eight teams each in the western and central part of the continent, with two divisions of seven in the east. The Brewers would become the first team in history to switch leagues later that year, but it was a natural fit as Milwaukee was originally a NL market when the Braves moved in back in 1953. The reaction was more positive among Brewer fans who had identified with the NL style during the golden day’s of Milwaukee baseball. A polar opposite reaction occurred in Houston when the leagues were finally evened out at 15 each starting in 2013, as the Astros fan base did not take kindly to the switch from NL to AL, this blogger among them.
But now we see an ever evolving game with regular interleague play and some day many believe, the DH in both leagues, which will effectively bring an end to the difference in league identity that has marked the game my entire life time, as I was born just weeks before the first DH games in 1973.
Knowing that such changes are likely on the horizon, it is easier to imagine what some new alignments might look like under a divisional system with eight groupings of four teams each. Assuming as I have before that the new expansion teams would be in Montreal and San Antonio, and also assuming that the Athletics and Rays do not relocate, here are some possible scenarios. For team names, I will use the historic Missions name that San Antonio has been known for during much of its minor league history, and we all know that Montreal will gladly welcome back the Expos name and colors. Note that because of geography, right now five of the eight teams in the western US are in one division while three are in the other, someone, either the Rockies, Diamondbacks, or Padres will have to make a switch.
Astros and Diamondbacks switch leagues, Missions to NL, Expos to AL.
AL West: Mariners, Athletics, Angels, Diamondbacks.
AL Central: Rangers, Royals, twins, White Sox.
AL East: Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox.
Al North: Expos, Blue Jays, Tigers, Indians.
NL West: Rockies, Padres, Dodgers, Giants.
NL Central: Missions, Astros, Braves, Marlins.
NL East: Nationals, Pirates, Phillies, Mets.
NL North: Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Reds.
More radicle realignment, focusing more on geographic rivals though same city teams would not share divisions.
Missions to AL, Expos to NL, Braves and Diamondbacks move to AL, Blue Jays and Rays move to NL.
AL West: same as before, Mariners, Athletics, Angels, Diamondbacks.
AL Central: Missions, Astros, Rangers, Royals.
AL East: Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves.
AL North: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Indians.
NL West: Same as before, Giants, Dodgers, padres, Rockies.
NL Central: Using the NL North from scenario 1, Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds.
NL East, Marlins, Rays, Pirates, Phillies.
NL North: Nationals, Mets, Expos, blue Jays.
Four leagues with two divisions each. Interleague play would still exist with the other three leagues. The union would never go for this option, but think about how historic this would be based on the below layout.
East: Braves, Phillies, Pirates, Reds.
West: Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants.
West: Athletics, Twins, white Sox, Tigers.
East: Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Indians.
Continental League, the 1960’s expansion teams.
West: Angels, Padres, Rangers, Astros.
East: Brewers, Royals, Nationals, Mets.
Federal League, most recent expansion teams.
West: Mariners, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Missions.
East: marlins, Rays, Expos, Blue Jays.