June 20th, 2011 Posted in Realignment | Comments Off
Here’s my take on a 15-team-per-league realignment for MLB. A summary and some detailed explanations of why the below realignment makes sense follows the division layouts.
Quick Summary of Why this Realignment Makes Sense
Below is a summary of the top five reasons why this realignment makes sense for MLB. A detailed explanation of my rationale can be found after the summary section.
- It meets MLB’s apparent need to even out the leagues to 15 teams with only a slight change to the AL/NL teams (the Marlins switch to the AL)
- It separates the large revenue generating teams from the rest of the teams, creating more parity and lessening the need for a salary cap
- The Major Market divisions (Robinson and Ruth Divisions) contain the largest and most popular baseball markets. Having those teams play each other more often can help with TV match-ups and generate more interest (please see the scheduling section).
- All East and West teams play the Major-Market division teams in their respective league the same number of times (for example, the Twins and Rays will play the Yankees same number of times each year)
- MLB is guaranteed to have at least two major market teams in the playoffs every year.
Detailed Explanation of the Proposed Realignment
A. Major Changes
1. The creation of a “Major-Market” division in each league
Without a salary cap likely in the near future, smaller market teams need to be given an opportunity at the playoffs without having to go through the major markets teams all of the time (especially the Yankees and Red Sox). Creating the “Major Market” divisions will:
- Have the teams in the major-markets play each of the teams in their league an equal number of times (see the scheduling section below).
- Have the major-market teams playing each other more often, setting up better TV match-ups (again, see the scheduling section, it’s important for this divisional set-up)
- Guarantee MLB at least two major market teams (one in each league) in every playoff year.
- Improve parity in the other divisions in each league
2. The Florida Marlins switch to the American League
In the above divisional set-up, one team is needed in the AL East. The Marlins make the most sense for a number of reasons:
- No strong rivalries with any current NL team will be broken
- Possibility of a rivalry with Tampa Bay in the AL
- Shortest tenure in the NL of any team that could be considered for the switch
- Travel schedule for other teams makes more sense with both Florida-based teams in one league
3. No more interleague play for non-major market teams
Interleague play has run its course and generally fans aren’t that interested in seeing most of the interleague match-ups. Want to see Pittsburgh versus Toronto? You can this year, but you’d be one of the few that really wants to see that match-up.
4. More Interleague play for the major-market teams
There are a couple reasons for this change:
- Teams in the major-markets will play more often against each other, building rivalries that may not have existed previously.
- It’ll likely help the TV ratings, with more opportunity to see the large market teams playing each other.
- It’s necessary for the scheduling (see below).
5. No More DH in the AL
This has nothing to do with realignment; I only put it here because it’s time this change was made.
The playoff structure will remain exactly as it is currently:
- Each division winner gets an automatic playoff berth, with one wild card team per league
- The ALCS and NLCS champions meet in the World Series.
The scheduling is actually quite simple with this structure. There are two different schedules: (1) the schedule for the six Major-Market teams (Ruth and Robinson Division), and (2) the schedule for the other 24 teams. Here’s how the schedules breakdown:
1. Major Market Schedule (6 teams) – Using the Boston Red Sox as an example:
- Play 36 in-division games (18 games each against the Yankees and Angels)
- Play 54 games against the NL Major Market teams (18 games each against the Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers)
- Play 72 games against all other AL teams (6 games against each of the other AL teams)
2. Non Major Market Schedule (Remaining 24 teams) – Using the Minnesota Twins as an example:
- Play 90 in-division games (18 games each against the other Killebrew division teams)
- Play 54 games against the Hank Aaron Division teams (9 games each versus the other AL non-major market teams)
- Play 18 games against the Babe Ruth Division teams (6 games each against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels)
These schedules (in terms of game versus other divisions) will hold true for every team. The parity in the schedules will improve significantly without creating much complexity.
There’s more that I can say about the changes, but I believe that the change to two 15-team leagues proposed above can be made very simply while also improving the parity in the divisions immensely.
Tags: MLB, Realignment