- Marcus Hartman
As another dramatic MLB postseason plays out on the fields in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Houston, some people may be working behind the scenes on dramatic changes to the MLB regular season.
There seems to be a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration. It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days.
One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles.
Intentionally or not, this proposal implies the National and American Leagues as we know them would cease to exist.
If they did, it would be in name only based on how many teams would be moved around to make travel more convenient.
As I have written before, I am up for expansion and new divisions, but the realignment proposed above goes way beyond what is necessary.
So let’s be more realistic: Add two teams, one being Montreal, and then go to four four-team divisions in each league. (I proposed adding a team in Mexico City; BA says Portland could get a team, so we’ll go with them for now.)
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That balances out the schedule better than it is now, and it can be done without dropping the National and American Leagues altogether, something I see a majority of fans vehemently opposing so not very likely to actually come to pass.
My suggestion is to move Washington to the American League in a division with the Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles.
Let’s also put Houston back in the National League and also move Tampa Bay to join Miami and Atlanta in another division.
Finally, putting Colorado in an American League division with Kansas City, Minnesota and Texas might be a little awkward, but it’s the best combination of teams I could come up with after making the most logical connections everywhere else.
That leaves the Reds, Cardinals, Brewers and Cubs in a new National League Central with the Giants, Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks in the West.
The other American League divisions would have Oakland, Seattle, the Angels and a Portland expansion team in the West with the Indians, Tigers, White Sox and Toronto in the Central.
Not only does this minimize change, the teams that do switch leagues are either relatively new or in the case of the Astros have already spent the majority of their time in the other league anyway.
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