Blog Entry

Realignment is on the way

Posted on: July 12, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 7:24 pm
PHOENIX -- More and more, it's clear that realignment will come to baseball within the next two years, almost certainly resulting in a format that would see 15 teams in each league, with some interleague play on every day of the season.

In separate Tuesday sessions with the Baseball Writers Association of America, both commissioner Bud Selig and players union head Michael Weiner expressed an openness to a 15-15 plan, with Weiner saying that players have favored it for a decade or more. The players and owners have been discussing realignment, along with schedule and playoff reform, as part of negotiations for the new basic agreement.

Both Selig and Weiner ruled out what Selig called "massive realignment," which would involve multiple teams changing leagues, or a system that basically does away with the traditional leagues.

The 15-15 plan would require at least one team (almost certainly either the Astros or Diamondbacks) to change leagues.

It seems now that realignment won't come in time for the 2012 season, although Weiner said even that isn't totally impossible. But people in the game believe that realignment for 2013 is almost a given.

How would it look? Probably a lot like the plan I detailed in a column last month.

Why will it happen? Many reasons, but fairness is at the top of the list.

"Fundamentally, it's arithmetic," Weiner said. "[The players] take the competition very seriously. They want the competition to be fair. I know why 16-14 came about, but it's like the U.S. Open, if you had a different number of players on the two sides of the draw."

Under the current format, the National League Central has six teams, while the American League West has four (and the other four divisions have five teams apiece). By moving the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, or by moving the Diamondbacks from the NL West to the AL West and then shifting the Astros to the NL West, you would have six five-team divisions, and you'd have a schedule that makes much more sense than the one in use now.

Both Selig and Weiner indicated that the details of realignment have not yet been decided, and Selig insisted that a resolution and an announcement are not "imminent." But with both sides so open to it, it's hard to believe now that it won't happen.

What won't happen, it seems, is a move to unify the designated hitter rule. Both Selig and Weiner suggested that with limited realignment and no significant increase in interleague play (most likely, each team would play no more than 30 interleague games in a 162-game schedule), the current system of a DH in one league and not in the other would not be changed.

"It would take some type of catalytic event to deal with that issue," Selig said.

While using the DH in both leagues (or in neither league), would make more sense, there's far too much resistance to that change.

"Good luck doing that," one baseball official said.

One change that could be made: A reverse use of the DH rule in interleague games, with the DH used in National League parks, and with National League (no DH) rules used in American League parks.

Another change that is coming, without a doubt: Adding one playoff team per league, with a either a play-in game or play-in series involving the two wild-card teams. The momentum seems now to be heading towards going with the one-game play-in -- and that's a good thing.

The playoff change could well happen in 2012. Realignment may wait for 2013.

But all the momentum now is in favor of it happening.


Since: Dec 8, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:51 pm

Realignment is on the way

So, i got a different idea for your fair and balanced schedule.  And I think it will make interleague a little more infrequent (and as such a little more interesting).

I say you play interleague games once every three years rather than every year.  It makes the interleague games a little more infrequent and I think a little more fun as a result.

During an interleague game year, a team plays each team in its division 18 times just like now (that's 72 games).  With the other 90 games, you play a home and home with EVERY team in the other league (15 teams - 6 each 90 games). 

in non-interleague years, a team plays each team in its division 18 times just like now.  It plays the other 14 teams in its league 6 times each.  that leaves 6 games left.  So you can (a) reward the teams from prior season finish (1st place division teams play 5th place teams in other divisions, 2s play 4s, 3 play each other) or (b) keep the natural rival (eg Yankees - Mets).  I prefer option a as I think the annual Mets Yankees series has grown tiresome and is nowhere near as exciting as it was in the late 90s.


Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:42 pm

Realignment is on the way

I know it probably would not happen but it would bring more interest to the game. You would have fans that you already have but it would no doubt bring more to the games. Baseball needs a dramatic shakeup like this to bring more fans in to the stadiums (in my opinion).  Yes, it would be dramatic but the key word is dramatic. Look at all the fresh NEW possibilities for the game! Just some thoughts here, that's all.

Since: Dec 26, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:29 pm

Realignment is on the way

Shorten the season and expand the playoffs.

Make the playoffs for the top 16 teams. Also, expand each series to a best of 9 (3 home, 3 away, 3 home) rather than it's current best of 7 or 5 format
You have to be kidding me. Thi smakes baseball's regular season as irrelevant as the NBA. I hate the NBA

Since: Dec 26, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:26 pm

Realignment is on the way

3 reasons this will never happen...

1. It is about $$$ not travel arrangements.
2. Too many league changes. teams draft and design there teams around teh league/division they play in. Why do you think neither the D Backs or Stros want to change leagues? Same thing as when Milwakee did, it messed with them for a number of years.
3. No more Subway/Freeway/Battle of the Bay World Series.

Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:23 pm

Realignment is on the way

Opps,  from league to league.

Can't wait for the changes to begin though, especially adding another playoff (wildcard) team.

Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:21 pm

Realignment is on the way

BAMABUCK,   They aren't going to swap 11 teams for league to league.  That's insane!

The Astros head to the AL West or NL West if Arizona moves to the AL West. 

Since: May 11, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:53 pm

Realignment is on the way

From travel and fan appeal perspectives, your plan makes perfect sense.  The reason we will never see it put into place is because certain ownership groups would never allow for certain of these alignments to occur.  Example:  The Orioles and Nationals would not want to be in the same division competing against the same teams in the same geographic region.  Remember how the Orioles threatened litigation against the MLB when the Expos were moving to Washington DC and impining upon the Orioles' geographic right to that area?  The fact is that the Orioles would love the rivalry head-to-head against the Nationals, but they would not like the fact that both DC-area teams would be facing the Rays, Marlins, and Braves so frequently in Baltimore and not too distant DC.  I'm sure those those might be echoed in Chicago and in LA.  And, breaking up the Dodgers/Padres, Tigers/White Sox, and the Cardinals/Cubs might cause some heartburn too.

Since: Feb 26, 2009
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:22 pm

Realignment is on the way

It's about time they are doing something to address the imbalance of 16/14, and also the problem of some teams having to play the Red Sox and Yankees 19 times each!  I have one suggestion to make this as close to perfect as possible:  eliminate the divisions entirely and allow 5 teams from each league to make the playoffs.  The 5th seed would travel to the 4th seed for a best of 3 with a double-header the first day after the regular season ends.  If they split, then the next day they play the deciding game.  The winner of this series would then immediately travel to the number one seed, therefore creating a huge advantage for any team that wins the regular season as the top seed in their league (the number 1 seed should mean something, right?).  Of course the 3rd seed would travel to the 2nd seed as well, so there would truly be a home-field advantage for the top two seeds, but more so for the top seed.  That makes sense, right?   

Also, as an aside, set the schedule so that each team plays an odd number of games against every other team in their own league (probably nine).  That way you could use the in-season head-to-head record to break any tie that might occur at the end of the regular season, which would give increased importance to the regular season.  Thus, no need for a one game playoff at the end of the regular season, which, when it happens, always seems to put the playoff schedule in disarray. 

Imagine how exciting it would be to have two playoff wildcard double headers on the Monday following the regular season!  Teams would really try hard to get one of the top three seeds in order to avoid the double-header.  

I'm curious what others think about this? 

Since: Aug 26, 2009
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:04 pm

Realignment is on the way

Of course you would have to have an agreement to scrap the DH which would make things more interesting overall.

Since: Aug 26, 2009
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:46 pm

Realignment is on the way

Wow, looks good! I like the New NL Central look with Cubs/Sox, Indians/Reds.
Then the Al East has Mets/Yankees and still has Phillies for the Mets and Red Sox for the Yankees!
Then the Astros/Rangers matchup. Right on!

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