How Realignment Could Save Major League Baseball

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
How Realignment Could Save Major League Baseball
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The popularity of Major League Baseball has been in a free-falling downward spiral as of late. The latest revelations in the steroid scandal have turned the baseball world upside down.

 

Just as baseball was finally getting back on it’s feet, Alex Rodriguez set the baseball world back another five-10 years; depending on how long he decides to continue playing.

 

Rodriguez is the latest, and perhaps greatest, to fall. He was supposed to be the savior for a sport tarnished by an era of needle-injected home runs.

 

Where Barry Bonds represented everything that was bad about that era, Rodriguez was supposed to be the messiah that overthrew an era of corrupted rule.

 

He was everything you would want in a hero. A-roid...er...A-rod rather, was a young, handsome, clean and pure stroking infielder who was on pace to own baseball’s most coveted record.

 

He said all the right things, did all the right things and never made negative press. Then that fateful day came, and a generation of wide-eyed youngsters watched as their hero succumbed to a level of mortality that would blemish everything that he had, and will, accomplish.

 

 

Breaking News: Sports Illustrated reports that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for banned substance in 2003.

 

Breaking News: Alex Rodriguez admits to Peter Gammons that he used steroids from 2001-2003.

 

This was news that would haunt baseball for the rest of Rodriguez’s career.

 

Baseball has yet to escape the Mitchell Report, Bonds, Clemens, Steroids and the meetings on Capitol Hill. For Baseball to survive and prosper as the years go on, something needs to be done to re-invent the game.

 

The NHL has stormed back in popularity since the most recent strike. Changes in the rules, a salary cap, and a new found commitment to the game and it’s young stars has made hockey more popular than anyone could imagine.

 

If I were to ask you the year of the strike, the NHL has done such a good job bringing people back to the game that you may not be able to tell me off the top of your head.

 

For the record, it was the 2004-'05 season that was lost to the lockout. Seems like it was a lot longer ago doesn’t it?

 

There is no doubt that a salary cap could save baseball by making it far more competitive. Chances of it happening, however, are slim to none. There is no way to change the rules of the game, the sport is far different from hockey, and there are few other ideas on the table.

 

There is one thing that could potentially spark interest in the game. There is one thing that could show that both sides are trying. Something so simple, that it could be done within a matter of hours and take place as early as 2010 if an adequate amount of effort was made.

 

The thing that I am speaking about is realignment of the divisions.

 

The NHL has the best divisions in regards to geographic location. The NFL is a close second. Baseball, on the other hand, could certainly do a lot better.

 

That’s not to say that the geographic locations of the divisions in baseball are horrible, but when you play 162 games, the competition can become rather stale. Seeing the same teams over and over again becomes far more redundant than necessary.

 

Interleague play is so popular, especially amongst the non-playoff teams, because it gives fans an opportunity to see players that they would normally never see. By realigning the divisions, baseball would experience an immediate spike in attendance as fans will flock to the stadiums to see teams that they would only see in the playoffs.

 

Another thing that would spike attendance is the close proximity of the teams in regards to distance. You will clearly have more people traveling from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, than Cleveland to Kansas City. A Rays fan is more likely to make a weekend in Miami, as opposed to Toronto.

 

Owners would save a lot more money on travel if teams were going from, oh say, D.C. to Baltimore, as opposed to D.C. to Atlanta. There would be more road trips to away games by families and groups of friends, and there would be less wear on the players.

 

Baseball’s current divisions are as follows:

 

 

American League

 

East

N.Y. Yankees

Boston

Tampa

Baltimore

Toronto

 

Central

Detroit

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City

Cleveland

Minnesota

 

West

Oakland

Seattle

Texas

LA Angels

 

 

National League

 

Central

Pittsburgh

Cincinnati

Houston

St. Louis

Chicago Cubs

Milwaukee

 

East

Atlanta

N.Y. Mets

Washington

Florida

Philadelphia

 

West

Colorado

San Francisco

L.A. Dodgers

Arizona

San Diego

 

 

Proposed divisions in realignment:

 

American League

 

West

Oakland

San Francisco

San Diego

L.A. Angels

L.A. Dodgers

Seattle

 

Midwest

Colorado

Arizona

Kansas City

Texas

Houston

 

Central

Minnesota

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Milwaukee

Detroit

 

 

National League

 

South

Florida

Tampa Bay

Atlanta

St. Louis

 

East

Pittsburgh

Cleveland

Cincinnati

Washington

Baltimore

 

Northeast

Philadelphia

New York Yankees

New York Mets

Boston

Toronto

 

 

These divisions would not only make far more sense geographically, but they should also encourage more travel amongst fans. If it wouldn’t leave a three-team division, St. Louis would be feasibly better in the new American League Central.

 

One main that comes into play here is that all teams that share a state, excluding Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, are in the same division. This would drastically aid in travel and expenses.

 

It would encourage travel amongst fans, and would also give them several new matchups, while keeping one of baseball’s great rivalries (Yanks/Sox) together.

 

There would be less issues with cross country travel, which would eliminate various time zone issues. This would also open up various new marketing strategies.

 

Think of a division with five teams from the state of California battling for supremacy within the state. Think of Cleveland, Cincy, Pittsburgh and Baltimore taking their hate from football, and transferring it onto the baseball diamond.

 

The Subway Series in New York would be a regular thing, sparking mass amounts of fanfare in New York City.

 

The Cubs would be constantly reminded of their futility when they are visited by that other team from Chicago. Tampa and Florida would gain much needed spikes in attendance from fans traveling to see their teams in a nearby city, as opposed to the great white (snow) north.

 

There are a lot of reasons this would work, there are also reasons it may not. Baseball needs something new and exciting to draw fans back to the game. Realignment is an easy way to generate positive conversation in the sport.

 

If baseball was looking to take it a step further they could not only realign the divisions, but they could increase the playoff field to eight teams, while reducing the amount of regular season games to 154...but that’s another argument.

 

With baseball, you have to go slow. One argument at a time.

Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

MLB

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.