Realignment MLB Style (AKA Stupid Realignment)

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This idiocy of moving the Astros to the American League West in lieu of radical, legitimate and common sense realignment is indicative of the utter cluelessness and fear that permeates the way Major League Baseball is run.

I’m not getting into a long-winded critique of the decision to have 15 teams in each league and the necessity of an interleague game every day during the season.

Who cares?

These are side stories that mean nothing.

The point is this: MLB had an opportunity to realign properly, make the game better on and off the field and eliminate the unfairness of teams that should be in the playoffs missing the playoffs because of an accident of geography and divisional placement and they let it pass by. Again.

I wrote a drastic realignment plan in June when the discussion of adding Wild Card teams and moving the Astros and other plans became public.

The difference between theirs and mine is that mine makes sense and their doesn’t.

Here’s what I wrote then in full (adjusted for my clear lack of mapping—sue me, I wasn’t specific in naming the Southwest). Below are the divisions and the playoff/schedule format.

Northeast: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays

Atlantic: Nationals, Orioles, Braves, Marlins, Rays

Central: Indians, Reds, Pirates, Twins, Tigers

Mid-West: White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Brewers

California West: Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Giants, Athletics

South-West: Rangers, Astros, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Rockies

The season.

The number of games must be cut to 154 with an unbalanced schedule.

15-18 games will be against division rivals and the games against the rest of the league will number somewhere between 8-10 and be determined randomly by computer.

Playoff format.

Every division winner makes the playoffs and there are 4 Wild Card teams. The 4 Wild Card teams will play one another in a best 2 of 3 format so the division champions aren’t sitting around for a week waiting for an opponent.

Once two teams are eliminated, the eight remaining clubs are seeded from 1 through 8 with a 1 vs 8; 2 vs 7; 3 vs 6; 4 vs 5 matchup scheme in a 3 of 5 format.

After that, the teams are reseeded again for the championship series with a best 4 of 7. The two remaining teams will play in the World Series.

But MLB came up with something else.

They’re moving the Astros to the American League.

I suppose that’s a good idea too.

No I don’t.


4 thoughts on “Realignment MLB Style (AKA Stupid Realignment)

  1. Bah! Your alignment plan isn’t too different than the used lemon Sports-Car Bud is trying to sell. Or, much like a 1976 Thurmond Munson, you are stirring this drink all wrong.

    Though I’m a traditionalist, I am not beholden to the past. The world of NL, AL, Federal League, 61/755/.406 is over. They should take advantage of the post-steroid era and embrace radical changes. Here’s what I’m thinking:

    1) You are right about the DH- teams do not spend the time and effort or have the want to have their pitchers develop hitting skills, so you may as well give the spot to aging stars/professional hitters for box office pull and uniformity.

    2) Now, your alignment and schedule is all screwy for two reasons:
    a) Your teams are poorly placed in some instances (Blue Jays should be with Detroit, Milwaukee and Minnesota in a northern division/San Diego and the Mariners should switch divisions in your scheme)
    b) You don’t take into account practical concerns of the union/owners (travel/lost revenue from a shorter schedule) and tv (playoff ratings.) I agree that baseball has to neutralize the financial advantage of the northeast, but as long as Fox is around, they want to have as many chances as possible to put up Red Sox-Yankee Octobers.

    3) All those levels of playoffs, even with little down time, would quickly turn into an NBA/NHL snorefest. The best of Three game series then five game series then…if it happened, you’d see this Nap Lajoie go Nyjer Morgan on you: throwing random objects and calling you Paula. It’s an old and tired format; it’s too random; it doesn’t pull in large swaths of people or make new fans; it’s much too rigid and the players are exhausted by that point of year anyway, you’re killing their obliques already! And the 1 to 8 seeding sounds boring within this format.

    4) Your schedule- The uneven schedule with wild cards is oft-complained about now, and it is the union that is pushing for this ugly 15-team league so that they could go back to playing everyone evenly and having more uniform travel schedules.

    So what to do- you wanna get nuts?

    1) Get Oakland to San Jose and Tampa Bay to Tampa proper or Orlando or some other southern location- either that or contract them, enough pussyfooting.

    2) If you aren’t going to contract- add two teams to the Northeast, one in New Jersey and one in Connecticut or Boston. Cut down on New York/Bos/Phil money. (Since this is my radical fantasy, I’m gonna act as if these teams will be there- they aren’t necessary for my suggestions, but it makes things a bit easier and the divisions neater.)

    3) Make Four Associations with Two Divisions Each- you could parody old league names to honor the history that came before:

    American Association
    Northeast- NYY, NYM, Bos, CT
    Great Lakes- Tor, Detroit, Mil, Min

    Federal Association
    Atlantic- Phil, NJ, Balt, Pittsburgh
    Southeast- Miami, Atl, TB/Orl, Wash

    National Association
    Midwest North- ChiC, ChiWS, Cle, Cinn
    Midwest South- Tex, Hou, StL, KC

    Pacific Coast Association:
    California- LAD, LAA, SF, SJ/Oak
    American West- San Diego, Ari, Col, Sea

    Each Association plays each other 12 times for a total of 84 games
    Match and rotate the Associations every four years into the traditional American and National League so, for example, the first three years the AA and FA teams play each team 3 times in the other association for a total of 24 games. Then match up divisions in unmatched associations- so for example, the first year, the Northeast could play each American West team 6 times (3 home, 3 away) for a total of 24 games.

    This would give you a 132 game season which should take you into early September. Here’s where it gets Jose Offerman-insane:

    The four division winners in each league are placed in league pools- they could call and market it as THE Fall Classic. They are joined in this pool by two wild card teams awarded to the best record teams who are not division winners in both leagues but those two wild card teams would switch leagues to be truly wild. So, using my alignments the two league pools would look like:

    AL- Philadelphia, New York Yankees, Atlanta, Detroit WC: Milwaukee
    NL- Texas, Arizona, San Fransisco, Cleveland WC: Tampa Bay/Orlando

    The idea would be to create a baseball pool that plays out like a “March Madness”- the Fall Classic could be played in two ways:
    you either schedule an initial 3 game series with the best records having off the first go around and the home games going to two and three seeds (so, two seed v five= 3 games at home for two seed; while three seed vs 4 would be 2 at home off day, 1 on the road.)

    The idea would be to make the Wild Card play on the road as much as possible (if not the whole time.) Then you weigh elimination. For example: the Phillies, with the best record in this AL would need to lose seven games to be eliminated. The Yankees 6. Atlanta 5, Detroit 4, and Milwaukee 3.

    Time could get a bit tight, but the idea would be to create leagues where you can market pressure filled games almost every night and pull the whole country in by frequently changing match-ups while rewarding the teams with better records for their hard work during the season. No team would be off more than a few days at a time, and with a month or so worth of games, without a chance to align your pitching while playing the whole “league”- the last team standing in each “league” would be good representatives who hopefully drum up enough national attention and drama to make the ensuing World Series (between the last two teams standing) mean something for the fans and the people making money.

    Or, more intriguingly: You take the pools and schedule 16 games (2 home, 2 away) between all teams in each league. Then you have them play by Run Differential. You can tie this into Nutty Bud’s All Star Game. The “League” that wins the All-Star game is awarded ten “run” to be divided by the 4 division winners: 1st place gets 4, 2nd 3, 3rd 2 4th 1 WC: none. Then in 16 games, you play your normal 9 innings, but add or subtract points by the run differential. You could also award bonus points for actual wins and loses; 3 “run” for a win and a loss of 1 “run” with a loss. It would make every run scored/given up count and theoretically keep every team in contention until the last out of the last scheduled game. The teams in each league with the best run differential would advance to a Nine Game World Series.

    Under my ruthless realignment, the season would be shorter and streamlined; the teams wouldn’t have to travel as much, regional rivals would be enhanced; a third of the league would be playoff bound each year for a good period of time, there would be more economic parity and each region would be better represented; yet the bigger market clubs wouldn’t be too handicapped by a short series- which would please the large fanbases/tv revenue. It would make upsets that much sweeter and less random. New jobs would be created and there will be peace in the land or something….I don’t know, I lost track of my Ty Cobb-sized ego for a second.

    But I think I just Connie Mack’d the knife here and have a more radically comprehensive and feasible plan. So I thank you for the forum sir. There is so much baseball could do here if they only risk it and let go; they should prune the past to grow a better future.

    1. I’m not sure what kind of response you’re expecting to this. The basic concept wouldn’t change regardless of any geographical concerns and they’re flexible. I’d be perfectly willing to alter the California/South-West divisions based on intelligent and legitimate study.
      You’re coming up with stuff you pulled out of the air without facts like ratings and revenues and present no evidence to base this on.
      And you want more expansion?!? There’s no pitching as it is!! Expansion would make it worse.
      The run differential thing? I don’t understand it and don’t think I want to understand it.
      Good grief.

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