MLB Division Realignment: Why It's Perfect for Major League Baseball
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It was reported last night that Major League Baseball is considering realigning.
In the proposal, there would be two 15-team leagues with no divisions. The top five teams in each league would make the playoffs and would be seeded by record. The playoffs would then be similar to the proposed two-team wild card system. This would require one NL team switching to the AL—most likely the Houston Astros, to create a rivalry with the Texas Rangers.
This realignment could solve two problems that are currently a part of Major League Baseball.
The first is that some teams have no chance of competing. In the AL East, for example, the Red Sox and Yankees dominate the division, leaving no chance for the Blue Jays, Orioles or Rays to compete for an extended period of time.
Since the three division system was introduced, the Red Sox and Yankees have combined for 24 playoff appearances, nine World Series appearances and seven titles in 16 years. In those same years, the Jays, O's and Rays have made four playoff appearances, reached the World Series once and haven't won once.
If the realignment was used, those three teams wouldn't have to be better than Boston and New York to make the playoffs—they would just have to be a top five team in their league, and once the playoffs start, anything is possible. This would also open doors not only for AL East teams, but also for teams facing other big market clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Would you like to see the divisions done away with?
The other problem this could fix is the unbalanced schedule. I admit this would be tough to organize, but I would like to see MLB use this as an opportunity to introduce a schedule that is fair to all teams.
In this system, a team would play each team in its league nine times over the course of three three-game series. Teams would alternate each year which teams they would play two series at home against. This would account for 126 games of each team's schedule.
Interleague play would continue, but instead of the unfair schedule currently in place, teams would play each team in the other league once a year in a two-game series. Again, teams would alternate who would be home each year. This would account for 30 more games, which adds up to 156.
In my new system, the schedule would be shortened to 156 games, allowing time for the expanded playoffs, so they don't end up going into November. The extra home or away games against certain teams would make this new schedule a little unbalanced, but it would be infinitely better than what is in place now.
If this system was implemented it would allow every team to have a legitimate chance at a playoff spot, and would make the schedule much more balanced. While it is unlikely that this will be put into effect, it could be a great change for MLB that would increase competitive balance.
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