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: Oct 21, 2007
Posted on: July 12, 2011 8:12 pm

DH ????

Say what you want about the DH but here is all of the arguement I need in favor of it.  I saw Nolan Ryan play live just once.  That was in the 1985 All Star game.  He pitched 3 pretty good innings but pull out the tape of that game and watch him at the plate take the 3 ugliest swings you will ever see.  After that I will always be a fan of the DH.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 8:12 pm

Realignment is on the way

They should realign every two years to suit the needs of the small market teams since they comprise a little more than half of the league. Teams like the Yankees and Mets should be in the same division. Same with Rays and Marlins. If they are worried that one division could take over the sport, because there are 4 California teams then they should contract or move them into another state.

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:58 pm

Realignment is on the way

I think that someone has to grow some and address the DH issue.   Either one way or the other but continuing it this way it under this realignment is simply not fair to AL teams.

Since: Jun 11, 2011
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:51 pm

Realignment is on the way

I like your thinking here and it keeps AZ closer to all of the SoCal teams.  Moving Houston to the AL West as some have proposed makes no sense as then you have two "west" teams in the Central Time Zone and 4+ hour flights away for all of their division games.  I am confident Selig will find a way to mess this up however.

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:49 pm

Realignment is on the way

Can somebody please explain what's in this for Houston? Don't tell me about how it would enhance the rivalry between the Rangers and the Astros because there is no rivalry. Nobody gives a F- on either side. Whether they move to the AL West or the NL West, it will mean more 9 p.m. West Coast starts that will drive down revenue.

First off, MLB should get volunteers to switch leagues and, if nobody in the NL will switch, make Milwaukee switch back since they were the ones who created the imbalance in the first place and their "rivalry" with the Twins is certainly as vibrant as Houston's "rivalry" with the Rangers.

Since: Jul 12, 2011
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Realignment is on the way

The proposed realignment plan is open to criticism. It leaves each league with an odd number of teams, there may be an excess of interleague play, and, as you mentioned, it seems to go against MLB's emphasis on tradition. Of course, MLB has made many changes over the years, including realignment, the number of games, the number of playoff teams, etc. So their record on tradition is relative. 

But I wonder about your hatred of Bud Selig. He may not be as good a Commissioner as most people would want, but as with all commissioners, he represents the owners who wield great influence and limit him to an extent we are not aware of. Any Commissioner is an easy target for criticism, just as the President of the U.S. is. There are many factors at play in these decisions, and people like you and I are aware of only a small part of it. Even the commentators and journalists don't know the whole story, no matter how knowledgeable they portray themselves to be.

Instead of hating someone, why not write about your suggestions to deal with the problems Selig and the owners are trying to solve?

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Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:38 pm

Realignment is on the way

Forget about realignment for now. Have the AL and NL teams swtich leagues and then see how they like it. Then ask "who wants to play with out the DH and who wants to play with the DH". The first 15 teams that accommodates MLB rule changes will get rewarded....perhaps a playoff berth for teams that have never made the playoffs...or those that do not know how to spell "playoffs".

Like everything in life these days...audience participation is very important for the success of any business model. Have fans cast votes on which teams they want to be in the AL, the NL and which teams get to "roam". I think it would be great to see my Oakland A's play in the NL for a few years. They always have good/great pitching but weak hitting. They would fit in well with the weak hitting NL teams. Thr Houston Astros would be better served if they were in the AL. They have not shown that they can be successful in the NL. The Nationals will get to the WS before the Astros do....unless the Astros switch leagues.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: July 12, 2011 6:44 pm

Realignment is on the way

I still don't know why folks don't talk about Colorado as the team to switch... They're practically an American League team already.  And it would be a horrible move to make Houston switch leagues and compete with MORE offense...  Not only are they a National League team, but they're a BAD National League team, which would make them an even WORSE American League team.

Colorado to the AL West...
Slide Houston into the NL West.


Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: July 12, 2011 6:40 pm

Realignment is on the way

Selig will F-this up as he has done with soo much of MLB.  Remember the old NHL...Norris, Adams, Smythe???  15-15 is the worst thing that could happen.  Come on, for a game that places such an importance on "tradition" MLB and Selig are going to blow this.  God I hate Selig!

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: July 12, 2011 6:26 pm

Realignment is on the way

Terrible. As we all know, two leagues with 15 teams means interleague play will be a daily event. Proof positive of how baseball can find something cool (limited interleague a decade or so ago), beat it into the ground (bloated interleague schedule of today), and then completely ruin it for good (daily interleague).

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