June 12, 2011

How I Would Realign Baseball

The rumors of a realignment in Major League Baseball have begun to circle around the internet more rampantly in recent days.  With baseball being a sport steeped in history and tradition, any changes proposed are always met with opposition from "traditionalists" wanting to preserve the sanctity and history of the sport.

The problem I have always had with "traditionalists" is that they seem to be against any change to the game.  They opposed the move to divisions in the 60's, the installation of the DH in the 70's, expansion and division realignment in the 90's, interleague play, and more recently, the use of video replay.

It seems the most popular realignment rumor swirling is a format in which there are two leagues, AL and NL, with 15 teams each and 0 divisions.  I'm sure this will be met with arguments by those who believe the game is fine "just the way it is".  However, I believe a realignment like this would actually bring the game closer to the way it was during the "Golden Age" with the exception of interleague play and the the DH (and the massive contracts).  This format seems to be just what the "traditionalists" wanted to keep in the first place.

Of course the rumors of realignment are really just that at this point, only rumors.  But, this rumor has me wondering "How would I do it if I was commissioner?"

First off, a NL team would have to move over to the AL to balance the leagues at 15 teams apiece.  I think the best candidates for this move would be the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, or the Houston Astros.  Many believe an Astros-Rangers rivalry would be great for Texas and the AL but within a league with no divisions, rivalries will be diluted anyways due to a more balanced schedule and the Astros have been in the NL for ages.  I don't believe the Diamondbacks should move as they have won a World Series as a NL team.  This leaves the Colorado Rockies.  Although they have won an NL pennant, they seem the most disjointed of the NL West teams and in my opinion the best team to make the move.

Regular Season Schedule

I would reduce the length of the season from 162 games to 158 games just for the sake of balance and my math.

Every team would play 10 games against each of the 14 opponents within their respecting league for a total of 140 games. 

Each team will play 18 interleague games a season.  Six 3-game series against 6 different opponents.

I don't know how the logistics of such a schedule would work but there are some smart people out there to figure it out.

Playoff Format

The top 5 teams in each league will move on to the playoffs with the 4th and 5th place teams playing each other in a 3-game series to move on.

This 3-game series will be a home series for the 4th place team.  It's a radical idea to not give the 5th place team a playoff home game but with this format I feel it would bring more excitement to these teams games toward the end of the season as they not only battle to make it into the playoffs but also battle to avoid being the 5th place team.

The winner of the "play-in" series will then face the #1 team in the league while the #2 and #3 teams square off in 7-game series with the higher seed getting home-field advantage.

The playoffs would then proceed as it would currently.

End of Season Tiebreakers:  Head-to-Head Record
                                            Record within League
                                            Interleague Record

The DH rule

I would keep the DH rule in the AL vs. AL games but I would change how it is used in interleague play.  Instead of using the rule in AL home stadiums, I would use it in NL home stadiums for interleague games.  This would allow the NL fans get a taste of the DH on their home turf and allow AL fans the chance to cheer for their favorite pitchers with a bat in their hands.  C'mon, when was the last time a pitcher to launched a homer in Fenway or Kaufmann Stadium?

If Major League Baseball does decide to realign in the near future, I'd definitely go for something like this.

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