Recently people have begun to debate how Major League Baseball should proceed into the future. Many people have suggested realignment.
Realignment is a great idea. It could help to alleviate ridiculous travel schedules for players and watching schedules for fans (I'm talking east coast team playing on the west coast). It could lead for more interesting playoff hunts, unlike this years uneventful lead-up to October save for the Twins and Tigers.
While some people have some good ideas and others should really have never been conceived, the answer is out there, it just needs to be found.
Buck Showalter mentioned a plan of his own on an episode of ESPN's Baseball Tonight. Buck described his plan to remove the American and National Leagues and play under one moniker (I'm assuming he means to just remove the differences between them, mainly the DH rule).
This is the only part of Buck Showalter's plan that makes sense. Major League Baseball needs to do away with interleague. Interleague play should not be restricted to 4 or six teams per year, playing those same teams every 3 years. MLB should take a page out of the NFL or NBA and have teams play interleague all season long.
As for the Designated Hitter rule, whether you hate it or love it just make it a uniform rule. Some argue that it can help prolong careers for players. Baseball purists say the pitcher is a part of the line up and should also hit.
These are both true, but one way to look at it is that by removing the DH baseball becomes a game of strategy. Pitchers are typically known to not be great hitters, and without the DH, managers are forced to do what they are paid to do, manage the game and utilize players.
In terms of divisions and the overall alignment, many theories have either expanded or contracted the league to 32 or 28 teams respectively. These steps are both unnecessary and would be frowned upon by fans and owners alike. If the league were to expand the biggest question to be answered would be where to put them. I contend that there are truly no viable markets that could handle and generate enough revenue to maintain a team (hence the contraction talks prior to the 2001 season).
As for contraction there would be nothing but trouble awaiting Major League Baseball and its owners. No city would be willing to give up its franchise, nor would the fans. Contraction would end up being a lose-lose situation for all parties involved.
As for the current playoff system perfection is miles off in the distance, but it is a system. The system could definitely use an overhaul by adding more teams to the playoff mix. Take the NBA for example: out of the thirty teams in the league, sixteen of them make the playoffs (that is over 50%). MLB couldn't handle a season that long, but adding more teams gives more hope to more franchises during the course of the year.
If Major League Baseball were to add just one team to the playoffs and making five teams per league, right now there would still be (close and interesting) races for the final two spots. In the NL wild card the Rockies lead by four games, but the next three teams back are all within a game of each other.
Now in order to handle the fifth team the playoffs would require another series. This series would be a short three game series between the two wild card teams. This would still reward the teams for being better than the rest of the league, but would also penalize them for not winning their respective divisions.
In order to accomadate this extra series, Peter Gammons mentioned a great idea to begin the season just three or four days earlier. Rather than start the season on Monday and Tuesday, start it on Thursday or Friday the week before. This would remove any possibility of running the post season any later than it already is.
As for the realignment itself, it is still a work in progress. Like all things it will take time to work out exactly what it should look like, however I promise there will be a future update for a complete realignment, this is just a start.
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