MLB Realignment: Ways the NL Central Changes Without the Houston Astros

John QuayleCorrespondent IJune 27, 2011

Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig
Baseball Commissioner, Bud SeligKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Lookout, everybody! The baseball demigods are bored this summer. Apparently, they are dissatisfied with a situation of their own making. Zounds! What to do? Why, they shall tinker with the game.

The NL and AL are uneven in terms of the number of teams. Two burning questions immediately come to mind.

First, why does this matter?

Second, why now, suddenly? It hasn't bothered a whole lot of people since the leagues were realigned in 1994, necessitating a move of the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League—which never made sense at the time and still doesn't—in 1998. The simple fix would be to move the former Seattle Pilots back to the American League. Was it written in stone on one of Moses' tablets that Milwaukee be a National League team?

Didn't it cross the mind of someone in the baseball brain trust that the designated hitter issue ought to be resolved? No. That issue has also gone on way too long. It needs to be removed from the game. If your favorite team doles out massive wads of cash to an overweight (or aging) lumber chucker who can't catch a cold unless it has suction cups, then maybe you should re-think your allegiances.

REAL baseball is a two-way game. Always has been and always will be. Being able to swing the wooden stick is fine. But, you also must be able to flash some leather, too.

Moving the Brewers might suggest to some that such a move might weaken an already pathetically weak division in the National League. One of the additional brainstorms from on high was to ditch divisional layouts and settle for two leagues of 15 teams each. Shades of pre-1969 all over again. What such a plan will do is ensure that teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies will be perennial pennant winners.

Should this no-division idea be rejected, moving the Astros will effect the NL Central by removing its weakest link. Traditionalists will be flummoxed and nonplussed. Texas might enjoy a healthier rivalry building between Houston and Arlington.

Considering the hapless state of the Astros at the moment, that might not come to fruition, either. Removing Houston will leave the Chicago Cubs as the seeming divisional patsy du jour. The Pittsburgh Pirates are this season's shocking success story, not unlike that of Tampa Bay in 2008.

Losing Houston means also that series will have to be replaced by games with different NL clubs, since no two teams can play each other more than twelve times. Perhaps this will allow old rivalries to re-merge, such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Cincinnati and the New York Mets (remember the 1973 playoffs?), or maybe the creation of new rivalries. But enough of trying to put a positive spin on things.

It's time for Bud Selig to leave well enough alone. Yes, it's easy to kick the Astros when they are down or in their absence, the Chicago Cubs. But, teams can turn around in very short order, like the aforementioned Pirates and Rays. Another team whose fortunes turned around quickly: the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If Selig is worried about an imbalance between the leagues, he can move his former team back to the AL, where they never should've left. Or, he can expand the American League by one team.

Rather than fool with alignments, let's pressure Bud to scrap the DH rule instead.