For MLB, Expansion Is Imminent

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For MLB, Expansion Is Imminent
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Recently, several sportswriters—most notably ESPN's Peter Gammons—have suggested an expansion of the Major League Baseball playoffs to resemble the NFL by adding two wild cards to each league.

But if we're going to install a Wild Card for each division winner, we'd be taking away the competition of divisions, as there'd be a good chance a team could make the playoffs by finishing in second or even third place.

Or imagine the extreme scenario, where a fourth place team makes the playoffs.

The only way to have a playoff alignment like the NFL does is to have a divisional alignment like the NFL's. Expansion is the easiest way to make this possible.

The last time that MLB expanded was in 1998, by adding the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona experienced early success, winning a World Series title in just its third year of existence, while Tampa waited a decade to taste success.

If MLB is going to expand, it needs to happen now. The NHL is planning to expand soon, and there will be some pressure on commissioner Bud Selig to compete with hockey's expanding North American market. He'll have to do something soon.

 

1) The "Northward, Ho!" Plan

Out: None

In: Montréal (American League), Vancouver (AL)

The best way to compete with hockey would be to move into their biggest, market—Canada. Toronto is currently the only team residing north of the border.

Montréal misses the Expos. It would be hard to move the Nationals out of D.C., with their new stadium and all, but adding Montréal to the American League could solve that.

Vancouver is another city that would make sense if MLB wanted to move north of the border

How the divisions would play out:

NL North

St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati

NL East

Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL South

Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Arizona

NL West

Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, San Diego

AL North

Minnesota, Toronto, Montréal, Chicago

AL East

New York, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit

AL South

Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Texas, Baltimore

AL West

Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, Vancouver

 

2) Plan de Expansión

Out: None

In: San Juan (American League), New Orleans (American League)


A while back, when the Expos were controlled by MLB, they played some of their home games in Puerto Rico's Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Puerto Rico could support a major league team for sure.

Meanwhile, there is one city in America that I think deserves an MLB franchise more than any other—New Orleans. With the Saints and LSU running the sports world in the Big Easy, the MLB needs to move in fast before expansion becomes a Big Hard project.

How the divisions would play out:

NL North

St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati

NL East

Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL South

Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Arizona

NL West

Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, San Diego

AL North

Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Toronto

AL East

New York, Boston, Detroit, Baltimore

AL South

New Orleans, San Juan, Tampa Bay, Texas

AL West

Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, Kansas City

 

3) A Capital Idea (and somewhat throwback)

Out: Washington (National League)

In: Montréal, Washington (American League), St. Louis (American League)

As stated above, it would be hard to take baseball out of Washington because of the new stadium. However, that doesn't mean we couldn't move the Nationals.

In this plan, Washington goes back to Montréal. Then we put an American League team in Washington.

Since we need one more team, we could add another team to St. Louis. We could have the Senators and Browns back! Anyone who was alive last time either team made the World Series gets free season tickets.

How the divisions would play out:

NL North

St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Montréal

NL East

Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

NL South

Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Arizona

NL West

Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, San Diego

AL North

Minnesota, Toronto, Cleveland, St. Louis

AL East

New York, Boston, Washington, Detroit

AL South

Tampa Bay, Texas, Baltimore, Los Angeles

AL West

Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, Chicago

 

4) Going Coastal

Out: None

In: Charlotte (American League), Portland (American League)

Two cities that are popular in pro sports are Charlotte and Portland. These coastal ports could both deserve a MLB franchise.

NL North

St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Montréal

NL East

Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

NL South

Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Arizona

NL West

Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, San Diego

AL North

Minnesota, Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago

AL East

New York, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit

AL South

Tampa Bay, Texas, Charlotte, Los Angeles

AL West

Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, Portland

Like it or not, Major League Baseball will eventually have to expand. Whether they use one of my plans or not, a city or two more will have the pleasure of hosting our national pastime

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