Houston Astros: 5 Changes That Could Come out of the Potential Realignment.

Alex GiobbiAnalyst IOctober 24, 2011

Houston Astros: 5 Changes That Could Come out of the Potential Realignment.

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    Bud Selig's idea of shaking up baseball is certainly causing waves. He believes that in order for there to be more fan interest, a team that has stayed 51 years in the traditional National League should move to the innovative American League, where the team could potentially fail. 

    Selig has also found the perfect pawn to carry out his strategy: Jim Crane, who is attempting to purchase the team from Drayton McLane. 

    Baseball purists should be offended by the idea, and Astros fans should also be insulted. I know I am, even though I prefer another team, of which I will not mention. 

    Nonetheless, a realignment from the overcrowded NL central to the underpopulated AL West might not seem like a bad idea. Heck, if the Milwaukee Brewers could do it back in 1998, what's to say the Astros can't do it now?

    A warning though: the move from the NL to the AL couldn't be the only thing that MLB is looking to change. Here are five possible ripple effects that a potential move to the AL could have on MLB. 

Addition of 2 New Expansion Teams

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    With the move of Houston to the American League, it would be very likely that Bud Selig add two more teams for scheduling purposes.

    In the case of the American League, the city would most likely be in the western United States or even western Canada. It would most likely be Portland, which has the largest media market without a baseball team. 

    Portland's last baseball team was the Beavers, a Triple-A affiliate of the Padres, who left for Tucson after the 2010 season. The team would probably be called the Beavers or Lumberjacks, and play its games at Jeld-Wen Field, where the old Beavers played.

    In the NL, with the Astros departing for the AL, it would make sense for them to either have a team in the Texas area or up in Canada, such as Montreal. I believe the possibility of expansion will bring droves of Expos fans back, and thus will call for a revival of the old team.

    They would retain the old name, but would change their uniforms and logo, something that recently happened to a certain National Hockey League team in Winnipeg.  

Changing of the Number of Divisions from 3 to 4.

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    With the addition of two new franchises, it would mean that there would be a changing of divisions: 

    There would be an NL and AL East, North, South, and West. 

    For all intents and purposes, let's use my proposed expansion teams:

    NL East:

    (Montreal Expos), New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals

    NL North: 

    Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates

    NL South: 

    Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks

    NL West: 

    Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants

     

    AL East:

    Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees

    AL North:

    Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays

    AL South:

    Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers

    AL West:

    Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, (Portland Beavers), Seattle Mariners 

Changing the Playoff Structure

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    If the number of teams and divisions change because of the Astros realignment, then so will the playoffs. 

    Most likely, the league will adopt an NFL-style playoff format, with six teams in each league vying for the championship. Each series would increase by two games, just to make it more fun.  

    Example:

    Wild Card Series will be a one game playoff

    Division Series will be a best of three

    Championship series will be a best of five

    World Series will be a best of seven

    The minimum amount of games a team has to play in order to take the series in the original format is 11 games. In the new format, it would only be nine games: two in the Division Series, three in the Championship Series, and four in the World Series. 

    The maximum amount of games a team has to play in order to take the series in the original postseason format is 19 games. In this new format, it would only be 16. They'd have to win the Wild Card game, then play three DS games, five CS games and then seven World Series games.  

    In this case, the World Series could start and end sooner so that non-baseball fans could watch their favorite programming faster, and casual baseball fans would not be put off by the ridiculously long playoff schedule.   

A Modified Schedule Which Will Be Better Than the Current One

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    A ridiculously long season is one of the reasons why you barely see anyone in a baseball stadium come September. 162 games is just too much for a casual fan. 

    To combat the expanse of empty seats in major league ballparks, the season has to be reduced by at least 40 games. 

    Instead of the early April to end of September Schedule, make it either a Mid-April to early-mid September schedule, or an early April to early September schedule.

    Less games mean more games that count. Also, collapses would be a thing of the past, because there wouldn't be enough games to squander a lead in the division. Had there been a reduced season this year, it's likely the Red Sox would have been playing in October instead of being embroiled in this post-collapse controversy that got Terry Francona fired in the first place.

    Now, as for the playoffs:

    Have the the new playoff system start from three days to a week after the last regular season game, and leave the World Series in October.

    November baseball only made sense in 2001 when the season was delayed for a week because of 9/11. Now it's just is a feeble attempt to milk more money into the sport. More people tune in during the offseason, for crying out loud.

    If Bud Selig decides to reduce the season and leave the postseason in October, he will be doing a service for the dying national pastime.  

A Bigger Fanbase with the Changes Made

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    With the overhaul proposed by Major League Baseball as a result of the Astros realignment, more fans will tune in to watch the games, especially during the playoffs.

    The addition of four playoff teams will certainly end the complaining by fans that baseball's playoff structure is unfair and less inclusive than other leagues, plus it ends the rigid traditionalism that has been the mark of Bud Selig's tenure as commissioner.

    Granted, the purists will have a field day in blasting the new ideas, but the younger generation of fans, most of whom suffer from ADD brought on by excessive video games, will be more inclined by the rehaul of Major League baseball. 

    Innovation is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, rather it is something that hasn't been fully embraced by the oldest major league of professional sports.