I’m sure many of you have heard about Major League Baseball’s rumored proposed realignment. (I feel almost like that’s a rumor of a rumored rumor, but it seems quite possible at this point – discussions are obviously taking place).
In case you didn’t hear about the proposal, MLB would balance the American League and National League with 15 teams in each. (Currently, the NL has 16 teams and the AL 14). Then, the top 5 teams in each division would go to the playoffs. I thought it may be fun to come up with a couple of different realignment scenarios (some plausible, some kind of ridiculous). In addition, what are your thoughts on this realignment proposal – good idea, or bad idea? Do you think that it would benefit the Indians, be a hindrance to them, or not really affect them in any way? If you were charged with realignment, would you follow this proposal? What would you do?
Here are some of my scenarios:
– Move the Milwaukee Brewers to the American League. They were in the American League then moved to the National League in the 1990s – wouldn’t it be hilarious to make them move back to the American League? The NL Central is already clogged with too many teams. (Not that it would really matter with the elimination of divisions. I guess I look at it as moving a team from the country’s midsection over to the other league).
– Move the Pittsburgh Pirates to the American League. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are already at each other’s throats in football; why not add baseball to the mix? This may harm my personal sports fandom though, since I’m not sure I could maintain Pittsburgh as my second team once they’re competing directly with the Indians. Again, dump a team from the (soon to be old) NL Central.
– Move the Houston Astros to the American League. I’ve heard this is one of the rumored possibilities; in part, because there’s a desire to create a rivalry between the two Texas teams.
– Make in-city rivals in-league rivals. Whatever you need to do to make this happen – both New York teams are now in the same league, both Chicago teams, both LA teams, etc. I’ve experienced some of the New York and Chicago animosity first hand…could you imagine how that would be if they were competing directly against each other?
– Move the Indians to the National League. At this point, could the pitcher really hit any worse than Austin Kearns? Ignore the fact that you’re trying to take teams from the NL, not add more to it.
– Alternate scenario – contract the Detroit Tigers. The Indians have first place to themselves again! Contract them by the end of today, and the Indians win this week’s series by forfeit. (I know it’s tough to detect sarcasm in writing, I’m obviously kidding about this one).
I’m not sure what I think about the overall feeling behind realignment. I decided to look at the records of teams from the 2010 season, to see how the playoffs would’ve looked in a realignment scenario. (Note – I did not take liberties with a moved team. I just analyzed it based on 16 NL teams and 14 AL teams, top 5 in each).
Actual 2010 playoff teams: American League – Tampa Bay Rays (AL East), New York Yankees (Wild Card), Minnesota Twins (AL Central), and Texas Rangers (AL West). National League – Philadelphia Phillies (NL East), Atlanta Braves (Wild Card), Cincinnati Reds (NL Central), San Francisco Giants (NL West).
2010 playoff teams, going by top 5 records: American League (in order from best record to worst) – Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox. National League (in order from best to worst) – Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres.
So as you can see, the same teams make the playoffs in either scenario, with the addition of the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres. The season may shape up differently (potentially more interleague games during the season and more meaningful interleague games). I know that MLB is interested in having an extra team make the playoffs each season; this realignment is an intriguing possibility (rather than having 2 wild cards per league).