MLB: Four Ways Re-Alignment Would Alter the Game Beyond Recognition
Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, is pitching another less-than-stellar idea to once again alter the game we call America’s pastime. The new realignment scheme is currently being tossed around all brands of sports media and is having trouble convincing baseball fans if its pros outweigh its cons and vice versa.
The plan calls for the American League and National League to each contain 15 teams, meaning one NL team will have to hop over to the AL. Not as easy as it sounds. Divisions would also get eliminated, which completely alters the MLB postseason as we know it.
In the 15-team leagues, the top five teams would earn a spot in the playoffs…well sort of. The top three team would automatically be placed in the first round of the playoffs, while the fourth and fifth place teams would compete in a “play-in” series for the fourth and final spot in the first round.
The changes Bud Selig has made to Major League baseball started with the addition of the wild card to the playoffs, an all-in-all good and successful idea.
But he has since taken his one good deed and has tried to expand his authority by wrongfully moving his Milwaukee Brewers to the National League and making the All-Star Game decide home-field advantage in the World Series.
It seems to me that Selig panicked when the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a tie, and now we see players from the Kansas City Royals and Florida Marlins having a say in which team will have home-field in the series that decides the World Champion.
Why can’t the best overall record decide home-field advantage, like it does in every other sport?
Bud Selig should never have altered the Mid-Summer Classic and he should stop trying to change the face of the game before it eventually becomes unrecognizable. If the proposed realignment does in fact happen, here are the four ways in will ruin the game as we know it.
The Select AL to NL Team Will Be Forced into a No-Win Situation
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Switching leagues doesn't seem too complicated from an average baseball fan's perspective. It doesn't involve a new stadium or relocation to a new city…easy enough, right?
Well, in actuality, the NL ball club that will be switching leagues will also be walking gingerly for some time while recovering from the shaft they were given.
It’s more than a change of scenery moving from one league to another. It’s a change of rules and a different style of play. The National League is more focused on good pitching and manufacturing runs, while the American League is power-hungry and incorporates the Designated Hitter.
The designated team that will be moved into the AL will have to rethink their current roster and adjust their strategy accordingly. It may not be cheap either, just take a look at some of the DH contracts (i.e. Adam Dunn).
Players will also have to face numerous pitchers and batters for the first time, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.
Bad situation for any MLB franchise.
Year-Round Inter-League Play
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I’m an advocate of interleague play, and like seeing new teams and different players pitted against my team.
But having an interleague series being played at all times (which is what happens when there are an odd number of teams in each league) will ultimately water down anything unique about interleague play.
Not only that, but there will be more meaningless match-ups (a la Diamondbacks vs. Royals) and these match-ups can possibly occur at crucial times of the year.
And do we really want to see AL pitchers constantly batting in NL parks? How about career pinch-hitters batting four times a game? Didn't think so.
Divisions as We Know It Will Cease to Exist
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The proposed re-alignment calls for the elimination of divisions, essentially making each league one super-sized division.
This means that fans from smaller markets, like Minnesota for instance, won’t be able to don AL Central Division championship gear, along with every other fan base.
Nothing against the Twins, but nowadays they struggle as much in the postseason as the Chicago White Sox struggle against the very same Twins in the regular season.
Who would want to wear a shirt that only points out that your team made the playoffs, rather than actually winning a division against their regional rivals. Not I, commissioner, not I.
That brings up another point. There will be fewer meaningful games between in-division rivals down the stretch. This means that teams in contention will not be playing the teams they need to beat more often, as they do in the current division format.
To put it simply, there will be a lot more scoreboard watching and a lot fewer meaningful games.
Too Many Pointless Late-Season Games Within Each League
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And you thought only interleague match-ups could be completely pointless. If the MLB changes to this proposed re-alignment, there will be countless league match-ups on top of the already random inter-league series that will prove meaningless.
Like I mentioned earlier, the elimination of divisions greatly decreases the amount of pivotal match-ups late in the season. Instead of division foes battling it out the majority of the home stretch, we will see only a handful of games that matter for playoff positioning.
There would be no battle for first place and a division crown between rivals, and no champagne pouring while donning division championship gear.
Unless the MLB sees more parity and less of a gap between the top-tier teams and the rest of the league, which a salary cap could help do, playoff races we witness in late September could soon be over by early August.