With Major League Baseball seriously considering realignment as the driving force that will pave the way for changes to interleague play and the postseason format, one thought that occurred to me was if you're going to realign, why not do it in a entertaining way that also incorporates rivalries which can help television markets and fan bases alike?
After all, baseball is considering these changes to get attention back to the game and perhaps to drive into a new era of baseball, away from "The Steroid Era."
Reports say that Major League Baseball is considering moving one National League team to the American League to even out the current balance of teams between the leagues at 15. Such change would cause the structure of the baseball schedule and divisions to change.
For starters, you'd have Interleague play year-round but this may be a way of baseball incorporating a more balanced schedule in the wake of the outcry of managers and media who are against the idea of Interleague play 15 years into it.
As for divisions, there are only two choices, the classic no-division league format or a five-team, three-division format for which the latter seems better for all.
Why? Well, would you want to be up against 14 other teams fighting for five spots that mathematically equates to a 6 percent chance for each team of making the playoffs or a 20 percent chance that really is 60 percent in your division if you have a pair of wild card teams?
That will be up for debate but because it looks like this might end up being the reality a couple of years down the road, I figured I'd propose a radical geographic realignment that will also incorporate rivalries (that don't include two teams with the same city or state) which could be beneficial in aiding in building rivalries at the geographic level.
AL Northeast: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals
AL Great Lakes: Chicago White Sox (Michigan), Cleveland Indians (Erie), Detroit Tigers (St. Clair/Huron), Minnesota Twins (Superior), and Toronto Blue Jays (Ontario)
AL Pacific: Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners
NL Atlantic: Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays
NL Midwest: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals
NL Southwest: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers
Analysis of the Geographic Realignment Proposal
Again, this realignment proposal would keep the geographic aspect of it in mind while also fostering rivalries from teams who are your next-door neighbor but don't share the same location name (i.e New York, Chicago, Los Angeles).
In all, the Rays, Rangers and Royals switch to the National League while the Padres, Giants, Nationals and Pirates make the American League their new home.
If baseball wants a jolt rather than a minor tinker this seems like the appropriate way to do so. The Rays and Royals are two franchises that are built for the National League with their development and the fact they haven't had a recent long history of being successful.
While the Rangers and Rays have made the World Series for the first time in recent seasons, they will certainly fit into the National League where they can become an instant threat.
For the Nationals and Pirates, I know that any division that has the Red Sox and Yankees is scary but a move there will encourage them to spend and the Nationals are slowly turning into a big spender with the whopping contract handed out to Jayson Werth last offseason.
The Pirates have historically been a National League team, I get that, however they haven't won anything in nearly two decades and by that I mean be over .500. A change is needed and the Pirates will also be encouraged to spend in that division for the better.
As for the Giants and Padres, I didn't feel like moving the reigning champions to another league but they will have a rivalry against the crosstown Athletics more often than not.
Overall, baseball needs to look at the big picture. If they are going to realign one team to do a quick fix mathematically, you might as well have fun with it in a business sense and realign/rename almost entirely the divisions by geographic areas.
A change of this nature will give baseball a unique aspect that separates it from every other league. But realistically speaking, don't expect to see this happen right away. I believe we are guaranteed a new format come 2013.