A while ago I proposed team realignment HERE (among other topics) as a jumping point for the MLB to consider in the near future. It was not a set in stone proposal of course, but I felt it was important to invoke argument into something that should be a key issue in the next bargaining agreement, if not sooner.
Dathan of one of our fellow UCB sites has also joined in the discussion on his blog Good morning, good afternoon, goodnight. He was the first to bring this to my attention via our Twitter yesterday and we have been excited to see this issue coming to fruition. Suddenly it has become a story and it looks as if the league is seriously contemplating major moves.
Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian explained the situation on ESPN with Karl Ravech. They discussed some rather radical ideas that included aligning the teams where we now have a lopsided 16 team NL and 14 team AL. The NL Central has had 6 teams and AL West has had 4 since the move by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1998.
What is interesting to me is that the players are proposing this and not the league. I am happy someone is taking the initiative, these awkward boundary lines have made for a weird format the last few years. I love Buster’s discussion in this where he says if you’re in the NL Central you have a 1 in 6 chance to win the division and AL West teams only have 1 in 4 shot. Very simple concept, but it shows how uneven things are.
Early talks have discussed the favorite team to make the switch would be the Houston Astros moving to the AL, most likely in the West. This would be an easy one team move and they explained they wanted this done to make the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros a little rivalry. I was on a different path in my former post, but it would indeed be the easiest move more than likely. The Marlins have also been discussed but that may involve more movement along the way and probably not the most viable option.
So what would all of this entail?
The MLB is talking:
AL and NL with three five team divisions to even the sides at 15 teams a piece or eliminating divisions all together and making two leagues with 15 teams. The entire schedule would be all over the place as “Interleague Play” will not be confined to just a few weeks throughout the season. From there the top five teams would qualify for the playoffs from each league.
Now we have four teams that go from each league. You gather the three division winners and add a wild card team to even the field. Adding another team has long been debated to make the playoffs more interesting. With nothing yet set in stone I imagine the five team playoffs could go a number of different ways.
What would be wrong with the top five teams going from the AL and NL? It awards spots based on accomplishment and not on division lines where the “wild card” could have a better record than any division winner. This is a dangerous precedent however, with an odd number of playoff teams it can still be kind of awkward.
Will the playoffs become interleague? Do a seeding format where #1 in the NL plays #5 from the AL and so on?
Could we keep divisions and award spots to the division winners and have the two wild card teams have a play in match to establish the right to play the best team. It would kind of be like the current format only the wild card is earned and not based solely on your record, it gives that one bubble team in the five spot a chance to earn their shot at the series.
The playoff will probably be the debatable topic, but what of realignment? Should we stay along the same lines or can Houston be the key to making everything right? Vote in our poll and feel free to comment on the discussion below.