With the constant talk around Major League Baseball seeking to inject more energy into the sport, I thought it would be time to propose a few fresh ideas.
For purists arguing that baseball should stick with tradition over taking steps toward modernization, I’d point out that that ship has long since sailed. Night games, expansion teams, relocation and the "this time it counts" approach to All-Star Games are examples in favor of change.
Here are a few plans for progress, some original, others piggybacked.
Supporting the ideas of Bleacher Report writers Al Daniel and Leonard Sutton, shuffling the D-Backs to the AL West and Astros to the NL West would retain symmetry to the respective leagues and provide geographical accuracy for the division.
Having the Pirates in the NL Central will be the biggest geographical problem left to solve.
2. Contract the schedule from 162 games to 156, increase Interleague Play
It may increase ticket prices a bit, but cutting six games off the block would be intriguing. Losing six games produces a more balanced schedule, more parity amongst each team and the idea of how every franchise's 29 opponents operate.
Yes, I did say "29". Picture this:
Each MLB team will play 60 games in the same league, but against opponents in different divisions; each intra-league team will face off against each other six times a season (three home games and three away games).
Each MLB franchise participates in 48 interleague play games—six of those games will be home-and-home series against their designated interleague rival.
The rivals would be fixated by history (ex: the Red Sox and Braves were both established in Boston); proximity (ex: the Orioles and the Nationals are only 40 miles apart) or similarity (ex: Padres vs. Mariners; both teams play in seaport cities bordered by Mexico and Canada, respectively.)
The remaining 42 games will be split amongst the other 14 interleague teams. (An AL team will host seven three-game NL series and will play the same exact number of series in NL ballparks; the National League will follow suit.)
Finally, each MLB squad will face their division opponent 12 times (two three-game series will be played each at home and away against each divisional rival).
3. Expand the number of playoff teams to six per league
With this idea, the two best teams in the each league (obviously division winners) will earn a "series bye."
The team with the third-best record (a division winner) will duel against the team with the sixth best mark; the fourth seed will square off against the fifth seed. These will be best-of-three Wild Card series'.
In order to save time, money and avoid rain delays, these “Wild Card Series” should occur in "neutral" domed stadiums simultaneously.
The American League Wild Card Series can pick two domed stadiums from the following clubs: Tampa Bay, Arizona, Seattle or Toronto; Milwaukee, Miami or Houston would be candidates for the National League Wild Card rounds.
The rest from the Division Series onward will remain as the status quo.
Some of these may be unpopular, but would help to modernize the game.