MLB Playoff Expansion? Team “Redistricting”


Due to the MLB trying to push more teams into the playoffs here lately, it got me thinking about how this could possibly work. As of now, MLB is the only major professional sporting outlet of the big four (MLB, NHL, NFL, & NBA) to have uneven divisions, which in and of itself is really going to make the entire idea of such a thing very awkward and probably even more confusing.

As you can see now, the Cardinals are in the most lopsided division and the AL West is the one getting the short end of the stick. The Brewers moved over to the NL Central in 1998 because the league and the city felt they have long been a National League city as the Braves were their long standing tradition before moving to Atlanta. That left the current grid of the teams to look as follows:

With all of that in mind, it makes you wonder shouldn’t they take action regarding having uneven grounds for each league first?

So what is the solution? Can we add more teams like the have been wanting to do in recent years? If so, where would we even put such clubs? The only interesting places I can begin to entertain at this time are following the NFL to the Carolinas (I bet a team would do quite well over in Charlotte), maybe looking into New Orleans or an Oklahoma team, or maybe even Puerto Rico like they have long discussed.

The thing that makes the most sense to me personally is simply redistricting the leagues first and evening every side to 5 teams. 30 teams, 2 leagues, and 6 divisions at 5 teams a piece; that to me is what makes the most sense. Working in a law firm in a state that has undergone massive redistricting proposals as of late really helped stick this in my mind as a perfect solution.

What I propose is this:

While it is mainly the same, there are some very major differences here. In this thought process, I used the town in general to base my decision on what team should go where. The NL East and West are the only two divisions that are left completely untouched.

The Pirates belong in the East, they’re on the Eastern seaboard and need to be placed in such a division. That puts both the Phillies and Pirates in the NL East automatically, but as the MLB and NFL have taught us, each given state should have one NL and one AL team in a two team state. The Pirates made more sense to me to make the switch. Look at the NFL, the Eagles are in the NFC and the Steelers are in the AFC. Based on that and according to need I figured the Pirates seemed a much better fit in the AL East.

Speaking of AL East, this kicks one team out and Toronto seems the best fit. Toronto to the AL Central seemed very logical to make room as they were the farthest West of the Eastern seaboard teams and would not even have to switch leagues, they clearly still fit the AL persona.

That leaves six teams in the AL Central and now still four in the West.

I say the Kansas City Royals are that team. While Houston may be a little farther west, the AL NL in any given state rule would take effect as there is already a Texas team in the AL West, the Texas Rangers. The Chiefs are in the West with the AFC, so should the Royals in the AL.

What a mess! Honestly though, I believe this truly might be the answer they would look for if expansion was not the option. Look at the last expansion teams, I don’t believe that would be the best answer in any case:

* Washington Nationals were not expansion, they were the Montreal Expos. They are a team in hiding that seems to finally be emerging however.

* Arizona Diamondbacks – Decent team, won the World Series in 2001. Not the strongest fan following.

* Tampa Bay Rays – Great team the last couple years, still virtually NO fan support unless they’re in the playoffs.

* Colorado Rockies – Great team, made it to the World Series just a few years ago and a terrific fan base.

* Florida Marlins – Great team, year in and year out. Known widely for selling off great players before they demand major contracts. Won the world series twice now, virtually no fan base.

It seems teams are a hit or miss, but even more so it shows we need no more teams in Spring Training states (Florida or Arizona). Florida was #28 out of 30 last season, barely nudging out Oakland and Cleveland averaging 18,953 fans a game. Tampa Bay was 22, Arizona 21, but Colorado was 10.

Take this for what you will. With the league looking ahead I think they should merely be trying to even the playing field instead of adding on more teams that may be a major risk as well.