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: Apr 28, 2011
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:20 pm

Realignment is on the way

IMO the Astros should join their in state rival, the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:03 pm

Realignment is on the way

I think adding two teams better aligns (no pun intended) with MLB goals: fairness, keeping the division races, maintaining regional rivalries, and prevents requiring interleague play throughout the season. The 16-16 format allows MLB to go to 8 four-team divisions with each division champ advancing to the playoffs with division leaders in each league 3 & 4 playing the two wild card teams in three game series (as an aside, I think the one-game playoff is just plain stupid: there are years where a wild card team finishes 20 games ahead of the next closest team, and forcing them to play a one-off just to survive into the "real" playoffs runs against MLB's goal of making playoff qualification more fair). Honestly, I'd rather stick with just 4 playoff teams per league so that the regular season actually means something (come on, how boring is the NBA with more than half of the league making the playoffs?). Anyway, this is what I would put in place if I were some sort of all-powerful baseball deity (new teams in italics, teams switching leagues in bold):

East- Yankees, Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay
North- Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore
Central- Minnesota, Texas, White Sox, Milwaukee
Pacific- Seatle, Angels, Oakland, Vancouver

East- Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, NY Mets
Midwest- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cubs, St Louis
South- San Antonio, Kansas City, Colorado, Houston
Southwest- Arizona, Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco

I do not posit the expansion teams as a be-all, end-all sort of proclamation. I just looked at the populations of the two metro areas and looked at regions that I thought needed more representation (Texas is the second most populated state, Seattle is the only team in 1,000 miles). I am, of course, open to other suggestions, but dont dare say Charlotte, NC- im from North Carolina and know that a baseball team there would be a colossal failure (though perhaps not so much so as the Rays). Obviously, there's no perfect way (geographically) to split up the teams, but I erred on the side of promoting regional rivalries (Fla-TB, the NL east, etc) or rivalries that exist in other leagues (KC-Col, Bal-Cle, etc).

I don't buy the whole "dilution of talent" argument that seems to pervade any discussion of potential baseball expansion. How many truly awful teams are there this year? One (the Astros)? Don't say Baltimore- theyre six wins better (the closest team to Houston) in a heck of a tough division. Personally, I think 32 is the perfect size for baseball- 8 divisions of four teams apiece has been magic for the NFL because it promotes rivalry with teams that are roughly in the same geographic region as one another. More divisions means more races in September and more excitement- leading to higher TV ratings. More teams = more ticket sales, more TV deals, more merchandise, more money, etc. Moving teams around in addition to what I propose is not out of the question either (the Rays immediately come to mind- less than 15k per night for a team right in the thick of the AL east is pretty bad, there's no other way to dress it up).

I hope I have made a somewhat plausible case for expansion. I would love to hear everyone else's thoughts on the matter.

Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:57 pm

Realignment is on the way

I know this won't happen since baseball has been this way for 150 years. They should add a 10th batter. This won't change the time of the game since its still 9 innings and 3 outs per inning. why? A DH and a pitcher spot. This way both leagues are happy. Let be honest what would David Ortiz do if there wasn't a DH. Plus the pitchers spot allows for pinch hitting and tons of manuevering that makes NL baseball great. Is it really that crazy an idea since little league teams play with more than 9 batters now.

Otherwise realignment is pretty simple. Move Toronto to the AL Central where it belongs, put the Marlins in the AL East with the Rays. Move KC to the AL west wheres its closer to its competition. Geographically this plan is really good. Toronto and Detroit would be rivals and Phillies-Pittsburgh would work as well. No one shows up to the Marlins or Rays games so thats why I would move the Marlins to start a rivalry and so many NYers and Bostonians live down in Florida they will come out for most of the games. They both need to be in the AL East for that reason alone. Example-
East- Mets, Phillies, Braves, Pitts, Washington
Central-Brewers, Cards, Cubs, Cinn, Houston
West- Arizona, SF,  Dodgers, Rockies, Pads.

AL East-Yanks, Redsox, Orioles, Marlins, Rays
Central- Tigers, BlueJays, Whitesox, Cleveland, Minnesota
West- KC, Rangers, Angels, Seattle, Oakland

Tell me what you think?

Since: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:46 pm

Realignment is on the way

  This would make me less of a baseball fan.  I look at the 5 team division, and wonder how to make it to the top.  I have watched my Twins have some great second half comebacks.  It was very exciting to watch.  Make it a 15 team league with the Yanks and Sox,  I'll be watching pre season football, before I watch a baseball game.  I can't think of a dumber solution, where there is no problem to solve.  Baseball is great right now, don't mess with it!

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:25 pm

Realignment is on the way

Simply, if you're going to do the 15-15 set up, the DH rule has to be a part of the package. Its now time to keep or get rid of the DH. Im not a fan of 30 interleague games for each team, especially if you restrict a DH heavy team.  They HAVE TO go together.  As for what teams moves, Washington seems logical to the AL EAST, Toronto to the CENTRAL, Kansas City to the WEST, then move Pittsburgh to the NL EAST.

Since: Jul 4, 2011
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:24 pm

Realignment is on the way

Why couldn't they add two expansion teams to the AL, then shorten each league to two divisions.  That would make the regular season worth more (which I think is needed if more post-season teams are added). Charlotte or Raleigh, Memphis, and Indianapolis are all large growing cities with multiple sport franchises, that could support a team (Although I can only dream about Indy getting a team because Cincy will have a hissy fit about territory).  Or maybe their are some large Latin American cities that could support a franchise.  Why not expand?  Thirty-two is a better number to work with than thirty.  All you have to do is look at how beautiful the NFL schedule works out each year.

Since: Sep 7, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:21 pm

Realignment is on the way

It all makes perfect sense when on the drawing board, so while they are at it can we get the all-star game changed too?  I mean if they are talking about realigning the league because of fairness, then they need to address the fact that the winner of the all-star game has nothing to do with the world series home team.  Make the best record of the league winner determine home field advantage and that's it, the newest "perfect" system.

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: July 12, 2011 9:06 pm

Realignment is on the way

All Selig has to do is put Milwaukie back in the A.L. ,he messed with it ,screwed it up  and wants to realign.Letthe N.l. have the pichers hit .  It keeps it interesting . I would cut down the number of  interleague games to  to 6 or 9.A s a fan of the Red Sox I don,t to pay to watch Pardres or the Astroes more than the Indians ,or the Tigers .Come on M.L.B  get with it.

Since: Dec 12, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 8:55 pm

Realignment is on the way

Get my Orioles out of the same division as the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees and ill be a very happy camper... If not then i could honestly care less about realignment.


Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: July 12, 2011 8:31 pm

Realignment is on the way

Realignment is a positive option for MLB and I believe a way to eliminate divisions.  Yes, Htown would jump ship to the AL and hopefully boost an intrastate rivalry.  I would also shorten the season to 154 games and add one additional playoff team.  I'll spell it out.  Two 15-team leagues playing 154 games.  Six teams per league make the playoffs based on their won/loss record.  And the playoffs are seeded so that the play-in series are 3/6 and 4/5 with the winners of the best of 5 playing the two highest seeded teams.  Plus, instead of the traditional 18 games that each conference team plays each other now, shorten it to 10 and add another series or two to the other teams in the league.  (Yes, after awhile even Yanks/Red Sox can grow stale). Interleague still uses the DH in AL parks.  Unless of course, the DH is eliminated (another day for that debate). But no, I haven't worked out the math or the travel arrangements but baseball needs to initiate more interest.  If I could eliminate the word 'purist' at this time I would do that too.  Have fun with the proposition.

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